On what I thought was a fluke, I ended up being the only male who traveled to the schools and orphanages today. It turned out to be blessing from our Father.
The differences in the students we visited was vast. At the first school the children gathered in an outdoor classroom (out of necessity, not preference) and were neatly dressed, prepared, and well behaved. Though a few were distracted from the lesson, most were attentive and responsive. It was obvious they had been well-trained in the ways of education. The lesson was on peace and Sam, as always, spoke with power. We concluded with the children composing a letter to Jesus thanking him for the peace he had given them.
The second school, which doubled as an orphanage, came with a forewarning from Sam that these children were 100% more misbehaved. He didn’t exaggerate. There was no obvious teacher, the children were more sickly, and definitely more interested in “le blancs” (white people). He warned us not to allow the children to sit in our laps because all children would desire to do so and more chaos would erupt. The children were so unruly that Sam decided to skip the lesson and go straight to the letter. The teacher in me was instantly frustrated with their behavior–messy, disobedient, and disorganized. But in the midst of all this chaos, God revealed his heart.
These children needed love. They didn’t need rules, order, and a lesson. Their hearts weren’t ready for it. They needed a hug, a smile, and to laugh when the bearded man fell down during Ring Around the Rosies. They needed adults who allowed them to braid hair, look at digital cameras, and teach them new games. They needed love. And Christ said whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me. As challenging as it may have been, we were loving Christ.
Which brings us to the next event. Some how Sam gathered a group of children at a local church. Word spreads quickly around here but at the beginning only 10 to 15 kids were present. Since Sam had been feeling a bit fatigued, I volunteered to teach the lesson. It could not have been better timing. After a quick briefing on the topic I began his lesson on peace. Not being sure of how certain questions would be received, I opted for more open-ended questions. Using Matthew 6 as a reference, I asked the kids about some of their worries. At first they gave typical kid answers: making bad grades, getting disciplined by parents, etc. But what broke my heart was when they provided more revealing responses: shoes, lack of food, being hungry.
By this time more kids had filtered in, almost doubling the attendance, and I was able to share with them some powerful truths. If they look at the birds that fly, the beauty of the ocean, and the fruit of the trees, they see the love of God. But even greater than this, God made them beautiful. God made them in His image. If He takes care of the animals and trees, how much more will He take care of them. Not only are they beautiful, but God wants them to trust Him for everything. Everything.
Earlier I said that teaching this lesson could not have been better timing. I’ve been struggling with some fears during this trip. Fears related to safety. I have never valued safety in a way that hinders me from taking risks yet, recently, I have found myself being hindered, or restricted, by my fears. Fears to speak. Fears to move forward. Fears to hug sniffling kids. Fears to obey the command of Jesus to “Follow Me.” I intellectualize my fears and justify my resistance. Yet, Jesus says, How much more will I take care of you. Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow has enough worries of its own. Follow Me and you will have no reason to fear. Sam was quick to bring up to me that the very lesson I taught was the very truth I needed to hear.
Please continue praying for our team. Please pray that God would save us out of all our troubles, or restrictions related to fear that keep us from obeying (Ps. 34:6). And please, please continue writing comments. We read them as a group at night and celebrate when one of us receives a comment from a loved one.
P.S. I love you, Tracy. We’ve been praying that Lucy sleeps better. All the kids loved the video of her eating the tomato.