Kenton Moody: Love is a Four Letter Word

Kenton & Eslie Moody began their missionary service in 1996, as the International Director of Convoy of Hope for 12 years, and as LAC missionaries to Panama and El Salvador. In December of 2015, Elsie went to be with the Lord. Kenton currently serves in El Salvador in church planting, education, and compassion ministry.

“My dad is drunk today, brother Kenton.”

Those words speak of an almost everyday occurrence for Hazel, but they still mess with me. She doesn’t see any love from her parents because they are concerned with satisfying their own personal needs. When I asked Jacqueline how she was doing yesterday, her reply was, “Bad!” She continued, “every day is a bad day for me.” Jacqui is unloved by family, takes care of her younger brothers, and lives on very little. Our church is the only place she feels love.

Religion is everywhere here in El Salvador, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Prophetic churches have service almost every night sometimes blasting their messages via loudspeakers to the whole community. Catholic churches ring the bells calling the faithful to mass. People attend the services, but nothing changes. The true meaning of religion is very seldom practiced because LOVE is a four letter word.

Why is it so hard to practice true love?  For one thing, our love isn’t sufficient. It has limits, boundaries, and conditions. The love of God is endless, with no limits and conditional in the fact that He loved us first. Therefore to practice true love, we have to depend and draw from Him and few people go that extra mile. Second, as humans, we tend to work much better within a framework or set of rules. We make love something that someone has to earn, rather than to simply give it freely. We’ll love them if they perform in accordance to our desires or conform to our set of rules.

Today we had five children from one of the communities to our home. All come from single parent families. None have ever know their dad. Three of them have been abandoned by their moms. The other two have known numerous “step-men”...and I say that because they are in no way “fathers.”  I listened as they talked innocently about their lives, their home, and their family.

Inside I agonized about their situation. What more could I do to foment change? How can I have more influence in their lives because I’m not there all the time and even though they attend our Open Door Church, several hours a week don’t compare to the community’s influence. How can I compete with the gang members enticing the young boys to be involved in drugs and extortion?

How can I persuade the young girls to maintain their purity when they see their own family members in multiple relationships and hear and see everything that goes on inside their single room homes? 

My goal has been to simply offer unlimited and unconditional love, God’s love. When people try to tell me what a child “is really like,” I ask them, “what do you expect?” Even though I can’t be with them, God is. He says, “I am with you always, even unto the ends of the earth.” His love, if I offer it, invades their home, lives, families, present, and future. 

Does giving love work?  Yes, and I have so many examples to prove it. Jacqueline wrote Elsie and I, “I love you both so much, like you are my parents.” I don’t mention this for our sake, but simply to show the impact of one’s love. Another girl and her siblings have come to our church for more than a year. Many times they walk a long way as they miss the trucks we send to the community. They are from a single mother family and are very poor. They’ve seen way too many men pass through their home. For the first 6-8 months they seemed incorrigible. They fought, wrote on the walls, disrespected the teachers, had temper tantrums, and used filthy language. At one point, I had to ban one of the girls from coming for two weeks because of her attitude and actions. 

I tried loving them. I called them beautiful and made it a point to pray for them at every opportunity. I hugged them, bought them shoes, had them sit with me in church, and always asked how they were doing in school. Love has worn off the rough edges. They’re still poor and bad words occasionally slip out of their mouths as that is what they hear at home. They very seldom miss church, they haven’t been thrown out of the Sunday School class for some time, the oldest one comes forward for prayer and sings the worship songs. Others may still seem them in the same light, but I can see what a difference the four letter word, LOVE, has made in them. We’re now their family. They also realize that God is not just a religious icon, but that He loves them too because we’ve become a reflection of Him.

 

Commit to pray for and partner with Kenton Moody here.