Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Each night while the team was in Nigeria, we met to read scripture together and reflect on the day, specifically what we encountered, how it made us feel, and how we saw God working.  Since we've been back, some of the verses from the trip have been popping back into my head. Here's one I just stumbled across again, it's Galatians 5:13-14:
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
Called to be free! Paul explains earlier in Chapter 5 that freedom means Christ came so that we don't have to live a life of burden, a life enslaved to sin and its temptations.  Instead, he has won for us a lasting freedom that we are to use for service, to "serve one another in love," to "love our neighbors as ourselves."


From the moment we stepped out of the car at Anawim, we were loved. The boys and girls ran to us, hugging, touching, holding, loving us. They braided Lisa's and Christy's hair. They sat on my lap asking why my skin and hair were different from theirs. (One boy, Jude, went back to his room and came out a minute later with a small packet of shampoo -- he told me to have it so I could use it to keep my hair clean and beautiful.) They asked us to read them stories and play games with them. They begged us to stay out of the sun so we wouldn't get too hot. They offered us their seats when we came to see them. They danced and they sang. These children, these beautiful, happy little boys and girls -- they knew love; they loved love! And they loved us, people who looked strange and talked differently, people who couldn't understand their situations, people who came from far away and were leaving soon enough, they loved us all the same, they loved us as themselves.

Daniel and John Bosco.  Happiness, Blessing, Mercy and Anna.  Favor, who wants to be a nun, Elizabeth, who wants to go to law school to help Sr. Oresoa with the adoption process, and the boys who all want to be soccer players! They have all been given freedom, a freedom that only Christ can give, and they all have chosen to use their freedom for love.

Then, in an instant, it dawned on me. I broke down. Someone decided these children were worthless, not worthy of food, not worthy of attention, not worthy of life. All of them, every single one, had been left behind, many discarded by their own parents, shunned by older siblings who just didn't care or relatives who couldn't bother. Pictured here is Paul, both he and his twin brother Peter were tossed to the streets as infants. He told the story of how they begged for food in the streets and ate mostly from trash cans.  Paul explained that their relatives rediscovered them after a period of time and threatened to kill them, and then Paul went on to say that his older brothers lived in the next state over, one working as an engineer and the other... the pastor of a church!

One of the most touching moments of the trip was when our leader, Rob Devereux, was playing a few songs on his phone for one of the orphans, named Sunday. Then, Rob told him about a song that he sings at his church back in the United States, Nativity. Rob explained how whenever he hears it, he always thinks about Nigeria, about Anawim, and all the boys there. As the tune began to play, Sunday stopped, and his mouth slowly dropped open. He just stood, listening. Once it ended, Sunday said to Rob, "That is the most beautiful song I've ever heard." The song was Love.

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