When Paths Are Washed Away, by Jordan Kauffmann

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This summer I had the opportunity to go on vacation in Peru.  I spent four days hiking on the Salkantay Trail.  I was part of a group of twelve strangers, and we camped with two other similar groups.  On the third day, the trail had been partially washed away at certain points by some flooding which had caused small mudslides.  It was still passable, but at some points it became very narrow.

One woman froze on the trail.  As she looked down the cliff while standing on the narrow trail, she became paralyzed by fear and could not move.  This was understandable.  None of us knew what was still ahead or if the trail would get worse, and at that moment, all she could see was the side of the cliff and the loose dirt under her feet.  Her daughter tried to comfort her but she would not move.  None of us quite knew what to do.  Her guide was pretty far behind bringing up the rear, and none of us were particularly keen on the idea of trying to help for fear of her causing us to lose our balance and fall.

At that moment, Nilton slowly slid past us and up to this woman.  He barely knew her but still spoke softly to her telling her that they would slowly walk along the trail together— the trail that was only wide enough for one.  Through her tears, she nodded in agreement and they made it through.  The shock at his grace and patience was felt by myself and my nonreligious companions.  In the end, sometimes we just need someone who will venture through difficult times and trying circumstances with us, regardless of the cost.

This describes not just hikes in Peru, but our work at New Person Ministries.  How do we respond to a resident who learns he has a tumor just when it is looking like his life is turning around?  In many situations, there are no easy answers prepared for us.

We continue to walk alongside of the men God has brought into our ministry, no matter how narrow the trail gets.  Though this involves hardship, we also celebrate when God opens doors to expand our reach to others. We are thankful for our weakness because it makes us depend on Jesus.  And we are thankful for the opportunities to help others as they navigate through their narrow trail.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The author, Jordan Kauffmann, is the Executive Director of New Person Ministries, PO Box 223, Reading, PA 19067, which is a non-profit ministry providing community reentry services to citizens returning from incarceration.  Mr. Kauffmann can be reached at 610-777-2222 or newpersonministries@gmail.com

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