Beauty from Ashes: Repairer of Broken Walls

Photo courtesy of Anna Goodworth

Photo courtesy of Anna Goodworth

While on a Vision Trip with the Women of Vision Columbia-Willamette chapter to Mozambique in 2009, our team was struck by remnants of beautiful Catholic churches that had been destroyed through the 15 year civil war that ended in 1992. These once extraordinary structures, ornate with design, lost their walls to bombs, now housing only weeds. War killed, but the poverty and disease that continued to reign is what truly burned the hopes there. Only ashes remained.

Luckily God springs life through ashes, and even death. Isaiah 58 was a passage that was familiar to many on the trip. Yet, when we were asked to give a devotional presentation for the Mozambiquen World Vision staff, we saw this passage in a new way. We each presented a portion of the scripture and reflected on the amazing work we saw the World Vision staff giving their lives to. It went something like this:

6 – “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?”

(Through AIDS education, sex workers were able to change their lives.  We met strong  girls who, through sponsorship, were being given opportunities of education and leadership, changing the whole communities’ view of women.)

7 – “Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

(We saw communities empowered to take care of their own orphans and widows.  Youth were being mentored to be compassionate leaders.  A new standard of community was being established.)


8 – “Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness
 will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”

(Medical clinics were reducing maternal and child mortality rates.  AIDS victims were being tested and cared for by “committees” within their communities.)

9,10 – “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

‘ If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.”

(Entire communities were turning to God for their hope, help and source of truth.  Families simply because of what they read in the Bible.  Men were rising up, no longer letting women carry the heavy load of work and children, but they were involved and invested.)

11 – “The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.”

(Healthy, green crop-giving fields rolled along hills revealing not only a food source for a community, but a lifetime of educated, proud farmers.  Water wells shone at the center of ever healthy community, as the place where it all started, at first drop.)

12 – “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
     and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
     Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

(In various stages of development, were repairing the broken walls of their community. These brave men, women and children were rebuilding ancient ruins, but not of Catholic churches that had been destroyed, but of relationships, health, their future and faith.)

That sounds just like our Lord, doesn’t it? It sounds just like what He came to do…to repair our brokenness. Only He could bring beauty from the ashes of despair these people have gone through. Only He could empower these communities to restore not only their homes, but the dwellings of their hearts. What sweet words we might hear of us as we work with God in His redemption: “Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

by Anna Goodworth, WOV Hartford, CT

*Read more WOV Lenten devotionals in our “Beauty from Ashes” series.

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  1. […] Read this full Lenten devotional on the Women of Vision website. […]

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