I have been forced to see the America in me, and it does not please me. I am so disappointed to realize all that I lack for the sake of all that I possess.
I am doing life among purest servants of God, and I fear I have nothing to give them but things money can buy, while they are filling my spirit with eternal treasures that are more beautiful and priceless than anything God has ever revealed to me.
I am tainted, my joy is disturbed, my faith is full of comfort and cushion. Although I am truly very grateful for the opportunity, family, and wonders of life America has afforded me, I am deeply deprived in my abundance. I have never in all of my life lived in lack. Not like this.
I am so profoundly aware of the tremendous difference in perspective on relationships. In both America and Africa, relationships are everything – but in such different ways. Our perspective is full of need and want and lust and selfish desires of fulfillment. For example, the first day we arrived, when I saw Solomon holding Shanna’s hand constantly, thoughts crept in to my mind… Americanized thoughts that do not understand this culture . I speculated that Solomon, this college boy that has lived in lack all of his life, would probably be tempted to have inappropriate affection for this beautiful, busty, need fulfilling white woman. In my mind, holding hands is a sign of intimacy for small children with their parents or for couples. Solomon & Shanna are neither in my mind. But as I continued to witness the culture, grown boys were holding hands with one another, and they wanted to hold my hand, too. Shanna explained it to me well, saying that they cannot see us as anything other than mom because that is the hole we fill and that they are desperate for. In America, teens are desperate for for boyfriends and validation through dating, driven by lust and addicted to intimate relationships that have to do with anything but God. But, here, the orphans are offended if you presume or joke about them feeling that way for their brothers, sisters, and mums they call family. Their relationships are driven, sustained, and flourish by the love of God. As one girl said of her fellow orphan brother, “I love him because he talks of the things of God.” It didn’t take long for them to transform my ways of thinking and reveal to me that their relationships are not disturbed with media, social pressures, and desperation for marriages, but they are soaked in shared worship, devotion, and commitment to one another out of the bond of suffering and survival they share.
Smiley Miley ~
Margaret is 17 and a senior at school. She loves Miley Cyrus, purple, and she feels a special bond to Chris and I since before she met me because we share the same last name and “maybe God bring me you because I have found my people”. Last night, sweet Margaret wished to share her story with me. She brought her journal and I read her many written prayers to God. Prayers asking for health to go to school, for help to learn better, and crying out, “God please help me forget the war”.
Margaret was 8 yrs old with her mom and dad at a farm when the rebels came. They demanded money from her father and cut her mother’s ear off in front of her little eyes. Then they drug her parents away, leaving her at the farm alone. She has never seen her parents since.
As I wept for her, Margaret sang me songs she made to comfort herself on sad days and nights that she cannot make her memories stop. As she sang, I thanked God for sparing her life on that farm that day, for giving her songs of comfort to survive day by day, and for her prayers – the purest prayers I’ve ever read, that He has faithfully answered for her one by one.
Pineapples for Jesus ~
Richard is a white man living among African brothers at New Steps, a place where the young boys go that do not get to college but can learn trades and skills. Richard studied agriculture at OSU and moved here last year. I was blessed to see his humble living quarters and the fruit of his sacrifice resulting in not only acres of hundreds upon hundreds of pineapples that are giving young men and source of livelihood, but even more so in the precious relationships he has built with each of them. To see him here, completely sold out to them in every way – time, money, home, and spirit – I was so inspired and in awe with a fullness of gratitude that there are such amazing people in this world that actually DO the kinds of things I have only SPOKE about. To leave everything… only to give, to serve, and not to receive anything in return. May God bless this great man of God and every pineapple he grows. Oh, Lord may you grant him a return so that he may stay here as he wishes to and continue to be your hands and feet of hope to these precious, hungry people.
Pastor Hassan, a father to the fatherless.
So many fatherless.
When I tried to get here 3 years ago, the trip was cancelled due to allegations made against the pastor that rescued each of these children and lives here with them and his family. I could go on and on about details, but to save time I will just say that as we sat in court yesterday awaiting a trial that continues to be put off by the plaintiff attorney, the seats began to fill with sweaty children that have skipped school and rushed through the challenges of public transportation to be in attendance for their dad. It would be as if our son Skylar attended a trial to examine my husband and his father – multiplied times over 50 sons and daughters that defend the man that took them off the streets and out of abusive homes and spends his days and nights caring for them in every. way. imaginable. He has tended to cuts on their feet, sat with them overnight in the hospital, fed, clothed, and nursed them. It was a humbling honor to go to court with him and be a “white woman” representative of support for him. Even when the initial trip was cancelled, I was so disappointed for the children, that they are the ones who suffered, and were re-orphaned yet again by sponsors that took 1 man’s word and went on about their lives, leaving the children without so much as a goodbye letter. Out of sight, out of mind… but not for them. They remember the names and still have the letters of those people who so easily abandoned the relationship that once brought the children such hope and refreshment in their hot, dry days of perseverance.
The trial was, for the 4th time postponed, and Pastor’s attorney explained to us the years of thorough investigation that has brought them to the cross examination time that the other attorney is avoiding – “He has not a question he can ask to examine, he will suffer embarrassment because the reputation and character are clear. He (the attorney) does not wish to be shamed in court!” It would suck to be that guy. No wonder he keeps getting sick around the court dates. Justice comes rightly harsh and right on time to those who come against the protected servants of God. I’ve seen it myself and all I can say is may God have mercy on those men.
The American Boy
History was made today for the legacy of the orphans!! I still cannot believe I was granted to be here to witness this miracle day for them. Up until now, no orphan of the war in Sierra Leone has been granted a Visa or the possibility of American citizenship, because essentially they have nothing to offer America and are not thought to likely ever go back. But TODAY!! OH SWEET JESUS, TODAY!!!
Not only does Komeo support the orphanage of the children, but those children that have grown up since the war as well, and now attend nearby universities. I have been told that these boys are so devoted to their studies that the orphans from here are always at the top of their classes and are smart above and beyond the norm. College girls pursue them for “tutoring “ but they are fiercely determined to stand strong in temptation because they understand the value for their success is not only for them but their brothers and sisters they are paving the way for. They are fierce students driven by their redeemed lives and their faithful courage is rewarded by the anointing and favor of God.
I saw Bakarr so focused going over government document, studying for his Embassy interview for hours. He has fasted and prayed, he has studied diligently to show himself valuable, educated, and prepared. After court, we waited and waited and waited until finally Pastor received a call that would change their lives forever. And with a big thumbs up and the widest smile only a proud father could have, He said, “YES!! HE DID IT!” When I saw Bakarr coming from down the crowded street, I could not help myself but run to him in tears and yelling praise to our God for this great great accomplishment!!! I have only known him a few days and he has changed me – I cannot IMAGINE what Pastor felt in this moment, the man who took this college boy in when he was alone and had nothing and raised him as his own into this beautiful, strong young man with such Godliness and so much education that he will begin working on his master’s when he comes to America! OH YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE SMILES AND TEARS AND YELLS OF HIS BROTHERS AND SISTERS AS EACH OF THEM FOUND OUT!!!! It is indescribable the pride and joy I saw in their eyes, they were overwhelmed for their brother, and alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll that this means for them. It’s not that all of them will come to America, and I hope they don’t – because I would hate for America to make them like me… I’d rather be here and be transformed by them. But the beauty is that the many orphans finally saw an answer to their many prayers and fasting, finally see God do a NEW THING done for their GOOD, and a door open wide to the POSSIBILITIES and OPPORTUNITIES and dreams come true for them after all these many years of JOYFUL, PATIENT, SELFLESS PERSEVERANCE.
Their FAITH is bearing FRUIT. Fruit like the pineapples that as they die will bear 3-4 more in their place. Faith that was for them worth nothing more than a tiny mustard seed… I am not worthy to see these things, to know these saints, to be loved so quickly, freely, and unconditionally by them.
If I could just bottle up all of the big, wide, beautiful Africa smiles of this day… Pastor’s, Shanna’s, Bakarr’s, every smile of the many children… I could bring them back to America with me and change the world.
The day began with 16 of us piling into a car, heading down the busy, crowded, streets… Shanna read Psalm 93 and 103, Pastor MS prayed, and the children led us to sing… this is the day.. this is the day that The Lord has made, that The Lord has made… I will rejoice, I will rejoice and be glad in it and be glad in it…
And the day ended with a flood of orphans in our room, singing praises, giving thanks, and celebrating this special, big day, singing
How great is our God?
Sing with me! How great is our God?
And all will see how great, how great is our God!!
And I just keep getting smaller and smaller.
Oh Jesus, Lord God WHAT… what what what Father???
what am I doing here?
These people don’t need me.
I need them.