We used to call it the tree in the middle of the road. Why? Because the road passed on either side of the tree. For years and years, decades and decades, centuries and centuries, this tree was in the middle of the road. That is, until now. Earlier this year, the local government decided to remake half of the street into a pedestrian walkway, with park benches, tables and nice brick work adjacent to a wide side walk. Now it's the tree formerly in the middle of the road. Even to the locals some of its lustre is lost.
Why am I telling you this? Because this tree represents some of the identity for the people here. History tells us that this tree was here in 1635. It's name "Palo de Los cuches" means the street of the pigs. Back in those early days they sold pigs beside or under this tree. But that's not all they sold. They also sold slaves! They sold slaves and pigs in the same spot! That's the value they placed on the lives of other humans - equating them with swine, sold for slaughter, sold as a resource, dirty, disgusting animals...allow that to sink deeper into your mind and heart and be honest with how it makes you feel.
We come to build houses, it's true. But as Tyson reminded us last night, it's the least important thing we do. The greatest thing we do is to help people who feel they have no worth to discover how immeasurably valuable they are to our God who created them and their Saviour who has paid the price of his life so that they can fully experience a relationship with Him, together with us.
We are no different than they are, in their history - we can be guilty of diminishing the value of others based on their perceived differences. However, we can all grow in our understanding that we are all equally created in the image of our Creator God - and allow that truth to change the way we respond to others; compelling us to be ambassadors of Gods peace among people.