We hope in knowing that one day God will return and fix it. Every longing we have for things to be made right is really our longing for heaven. When it will be. Until then, the fragrance of Christ in us is the comfort meant to intersect the world’s raw and broken parts…the beat down and left for lost parts….the ignored, the overlooked, the set aside parts. Grace. It doesn’t self-protect. It doesn’t coward in the face of suffering. It doesn’t hold back. It abundantly pours out. It wildly chases down. It always leaves us in a better condition than it found us in. Ambassadors of grace, of comfort, of hope…as we ourselves have received, so then we pour out. This is our assignment. This is how the world hangs on until His coming.
When we selfishly shield ourselves from encountering suffering, from entering into another’s pain, we short change the cycle of His grace. HIV threatens to rob the lives of this mother and son. But passivity brings an equal threat to my own soul. To numb myself against the aches of this world will ultimately smother His light…the inactivity causing my heart to atrophy, to callous, to grow lukewarm. A deep type of bravery is this: to sit and be still with another in their suffering knowing you cannot even offer a solution, nothing to fix it….but can only, simply allow your heart to bleed with theirs as they walk through the valley. It seems not enough. I stand at their side - quiet. She is one of a hundred faces I have seen today. But something about her son reminds me of mine. And the thought of her plight being my own takes me over. They are dressed in their Sunday garments. But it isn't Sunday. They dressed up just for us...as if to offer us their best...all that they can. Now, will I do the same? As the tears well up, I realize it's here...bending low with another...choosing to make my heart available to help shoulder the burden of their load...this is where the heart breaks, spills open, COMES ALIVE. This is how apathy dissolves, how darkness is pushed back.
Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. |Luke 22:24-26|
In Ghana, you cannot separate the spiritual from the physical. If you desire to make a spiritual impact, you must first choose to reach out and make a physical impact….meet a physical need. One piece of our trip was visiting two separate villages in which our friends Nick and Typhanie and their non-profit, The Move Project, have dug three water wells to bring the communities clean water.
There are hundreds of water wells that have been dug in Africa but in reality equipment breaks down, things go wrong, the villagers are not taught how to maintain the pumps. Many wells sit broken and defective because of lack of follow up and no relational focus. Nick and Typh are in for the long haul. This will be a committed, ongoing relationship between The Move Project and the communities of Tsipasi and Gbanabey. This trip we were blessed to be there to support the beginning chapter of their partnerships with these communities.
Women carrying their water from the clean water well in Tsipasi, Ghana.
I could not have ever imagined a more beautiful, peaceful, joy-filled place for the needy in Asikuma than our mission center...now in full operation. This was my first time visiting it in person. It is perfect, warm, comforting...a retreat away from the harsh village life.
***Will you stop for just one? "It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for...the masses." -Dag Hammarskjold, UnitedNations-
The breathtaking beauty of the shore of Cape Coast seems almost to be a masquerade from the heavy oppression and darkness that suffocates this city.
Just a short walk from the cleansing, rhythmic ocean waves sits the drug house...the place where the addicts hide, the prostitutes live, and the enemy manifests himself inside souls and behind doors. Our once Saul-now-Paul guide, Claudius, leads us back to his ministry...to the very ones that he gets ridiculed and chastised for tending to. "Don't mix with these people," the townsfolk say to him. "Do not involve yourself in doing anything for them." But these are the ones that his heart cannot forget, because their chains are all too familiar. "One prayer I always pray is that God will make those who hear my voice not to rest until they find salvation." He pursues them as God pursues us. And Jesus' voice reigns louder than the Pharisees. "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." So we go up the heavy stairs. We breathe in the burdens and the lost identities and the pleading eyes that beg to be freed from the prison of addiction. And it's here that I know it more. It shouts loud and wild through my veins. What the Pharisees miss. Right now in this jacked up, messed up, drugged up, roughed up, darkness. This is where I am to be FOUND because His presence is NOT BOUND to a church and to the cleaned up and the high up. It's right here. Right here is HOLY GROUND.