12 February 2020
A New Identity
Have you ever wanted to change who you are or what you have said? Have you ever wanted to turn the clock back and start over?
A Church Minister told me recently she was attending a health and safety training session when the trainer, who was talking about looking after yourself in the work place, turned to her and said “….and as you are pregnant, you need to be extra careful.” That would have been fine, except the Minister wasn’t pregnant!
At such times we would love the floor to just swallow us up, to turn back the clock and start again. In the Western world, we do have opportunities to make changes to the place we find ourselves, to maybe ‘turn the clock back’ and reshape the future.
But across the world there are very many adults and children who live in such difficult situations that it is almost impossible to get out of the poverty trap they find themselves in.
So, God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Although Genesis 1:27 states we are made in the image of God, many children and adults find themselves in a place a long way from the person God designed them to be.
Our identity initially comes from our family and then from what we do with the talents and skills we have as we grow up. What if your family broke up? What if you grow up without any parents? What if you have no paperwork to say who you were?
We are shaped by the places we find ourselves and the experiences we go through. Some of these can be helpless, war torn, poverty-stricken places where you are a nobody and there seems to be little hope of opportunity or change.
At the Potter’s House - Jeremiah 18:1-6
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.
Visiting Guatemala City, it was clear to see that the potential for children and adults to be manipulated was huge. Gangs exist all over the city and many people are controlled by them. Poverty sits next to affluence. An uncomfortable place to be. However, in the middle of this chaotic city, where there are four million people and a million cars on the road, The Potter’s House project thrives. It seeks to serve the Dump families that live at the top of the municipal dump.
Potter’s House, a ministry partner of Worldshare, serves communities in Guatemala City, Chiquimula and elsewhere in Guatemala, who are living and scavenging on refuse sites. The ministry serves the communities through Christ-centred community development, healthcare, education and microenterprise schemes. Potter’s House’s aim is to dignify people’s lives and they really help people in the community to feel valued. In fact, they call their benficiaries “treasures”, highlighting their value in God’s eyes.
Finding our identity is not easy when it has initially been defined by others. But a Christ-centred approach seeks to ‘mould’ us into the person God has planned us to be. The confidence in the Bible’s message is that it is possible for our future to be successfully redefined. Although it is not a quick fix, those at the Potters House are being given an opportunity to find a new life of hope, both in a very practical way and with Jesus at the centre of their lives.
John Bunce is on our Board of Trustees and visited Potter’s House, Guatemala, in 2018.
*header photo credit: Alastair Arthur