The Gift

July 13, 2011 | 21 comments

I smooth the red ribbon with my fingers, stretching it out nine feet long. I measure it exactly, because I want this to be just right. And that’s when it occurs to me what I’m doing: I’m making a gift for a terrorist.

I stretch a second ribbon beside it, and then a third. Three crimson lines lay parallel across the table where we laugh over coffee and poppy-seed muffins on Sunday mornings. I’m making a present for a terrorist on the table where we potluck.  

My mother-in-law, with scissors, asks if I could take the Sharpie marker and write three words on every gift: Dios es amor. God is love.

I write it three times. We will tell the person who kills and kidnaps and maims that God is love, God is love, God is love.


Somewhere deep inside me, I feel it. A part of me finds this revolting. It’s that prideful, ugly part of me that thinks that some people are beyond the reach of God’s grace. It’s the ugly part of me that finds another person’s sins deserving of God’s justice, yet I somehow stand in the safe shadow of His mercy.

Wouldn’t it be better to do mission work for Haiti babies, or the hungry homeless, or the ones who were maimed by the terrorists?

I recognize pride, a cousin to my self-righteousness.

And pride falls hard, pushed down by the humbling Truth of my salvation. And I hear my pride shatter on the inside, like a glass, and the shards cut. I bleed. For this is Truth: Once upon a Hill, God fashioned a gift for former terrorists like me.

I once was lost — an assassin in my flesh,
a terrorist by birth,
a guerrilla, deep in a jungle of sin,
a wretch, unworthy.

I am part Pilate and part Peter. I am the doubter, the mocker, the Pharisee.

And I am the criminal on a cross beside Jesus, deserving the punishment He got, but receiving the gift instead.

I cut more ribbons. I know who I was: a former terrorist. I know who I am: child of God, saved by grace. 

My two girls — hair held back with leftover red ribbons — cut huge circles from cream-colored cloth.

Sandy sews three ribbons to a creamy circle, and now we’ve made one single parachute. This is our gift — parachutes to carry Bibles to terrorists. We will make 29 more. Joyce ties each parachute to a bag. Inside each bag: a Bible and a shortwave radio, pretuned to a Christian station. And then, our 30 parachutes will be dropped from a Cessna, over a guerrilla camp somewhere in Colombia.   

This is not a conventional means of delivery. (Neither was crucifixion a conventional means of salvation.)

This is humbling work, the making of gifts for guerrillas. I run my fingers along crimson ribbons one last time, and I wonder if it will make any difference? These parachutes will land in a tree, or on the jungle floor. And we pray that someone will hear the music and pick up the bag and read the Bible inside. And I have no idea how or who or where. I don’t know much.

But we cut and sew anyway. None of us knows.

I feel small here, next to the ribbons and the unknowns. And maybe that is the very best place to be — feeling small and humbled by crimson ribbons of Calvary and a vast, immeasurable love that saved even me … a wretch like me.

Dios es amor.


Writing in community today with Ann Voskamp.
She asks us to consider the Practice of Humility.  

by | July 13, 2011 | 21 comments


  1. Cherry

    Thanks for sharing about this … what an act of love and humility. I’m coming over from Walk with Him Wednesdays … my first time here. I love your blog title and the header photo … and your heart behind it.

  2. Missie

    Your words are always so beautiful

  3. Tay

    Wow. That is so amazing that you are showing love…even to terrorists. What a wonderful oppurtunity to show love to EVERYONE!

  4. amy @ to love

    I love this. Love it. So challenging, gut wrenching, true. This one will stick with me long. Thank you Jennifer.

  5. S. Etole

    One can’t help but think of the immense potential waiting in those dropped Bibles and prayers.

  6. DS


    I love this Jennifer. I admit, it would have been difficult for me to tie those ribbons.

    To tie my heart so closely to humanity, no matter how wicked, that I care so deeply for their souls.


  7. sharilyn

    i want to believe myself better than those terrorists. i want to believe they deserve to go to hell. i want to believe this is a waste of precious resources.

    but, in truth…in Truth… i see myself for who i am…but for the Grace of God. the very same grace extended to them by the very same God Who loves me so. and so this day, by your beautifully-written reminder, i pray for these men and women as you prepare the gifts to be sent to them…

    God’s mercy is for us all…

  8. Laura

    I find myself humbled by your humility, Jennifer.

  9. Linda

    He takes what we give and makes something miraculous. This is so precious Jennifer.

  10. Beth Herring

    so humbling. we indeed tend to forget that we are all sinners. we are all just as vile as the next person. we just have the amazing grace that comes from our Lord.

    love to you Jennifer!

  11. Diana Trautwein

    Ah yes, the crimson ribbons, that red rope of life – swung over the wall by Rahab, tightly knitting Ruth and Naomi, grabbed for dear life by Esther, winding its lovely, redemptive way through the genealogy of Jesus, spilling down from Calvary – for all of us, terrorists each and every one. Thank you so much for this, Jennifer. You stand in a long line of valiant, redeemed women of faith. Hang on tight!

  12. Glenda Childers

    Wow. What a creative idea. Heaven will reveal where each parachute lands. And your hands made them. I love that.


  13. Connie@raise your eyes

    Oh Jennifer…to think on those parachutes coming down…with news of Grace…praying for them to truly see…

  14. Sheila Lagrand

    Jennifer, I can see these opportunities drifting down. It’s a beautiful image. Bless you.

    And as I read you words I think how much easier life is for people like me, whose sins are less visible to the casual observer than some other sins are…

    And how humbled I am to remember that the One who sees all does not look casually, and loves us–and the terrorists–anyway.

  15. Simply Darlene

    This is rare for me, but not a lot of words here. I am slack jaw over this.


  16. Lyla Lindquist

    And you make me think of one other parachute drop, one pure white sheet, crimson tied (crimson tide?), landing right in our guerilla camp to be kicked aside and abused.

    Amazing look at this “simple” act your group did.

  17. Ann Kroeker

    May God bless the reading of His Word.

    And the work of your hands.

  18. David Rupert

    Wow! Sweet Jennifer a terrorist? Oh… i get it.

  19. debra

    No words. Just so …. touched by this. By Him. By His amazing grace for everyone. So thankful He doesn’t judge as humans do. May those parachuted gifts be seeds and water.

  20. Charity Singleton

    I was sure you were speaking metaphorically when you were talking about terrorists. And you were. But also so literally. You are literally making gospel gifts for guerrillas. Oh to face the reality of my own guerrilla heart and accept the gospel gift I have been given.

    You’ll tell us if you hear from the terrorists, right? Or, do you leave contact information when you are dropping things out of cessnas?

  21. Jenny

    This is not a conventional means of delivery. (Neither was crucifixion a conventional means of salvation.)



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