Our first summer team of the year is on the ground in Malawi. The teams first days have been filled with joy as they got to know all of the children that live at the Grace Center. All of the pictures Karen has sent me thus far were what I would expect from the first few days in Malawi. Team members holding babies, running in the red soil as they play soccer… pictures of infectious laughter from our children as they receive an abundance of attention from our team! So much joy captured within every shot!!
The text I received from her shortly after is something a photograph will never capture. “The team has had some deep emotional experiences…. They have been deeply affected by the children and their stories.” Sometimes we forget what our children have gone through. We see picture after picture of bright smiling faces and bright beautiful eyes. But, beneath those smiles and behind those eyes is a story.
Each one of the 57 children who now live with us full time has a unique story. A story of pain, loss, abandonment. A story of fear, abuse, and destruction. A moment of realization occurs when a team is in Malawi. A moment when you are holding a newborn baby, you look into their eyes and realize that their mother has died. You realize that their family could not provide for them, and gave them away in hopes of a better life. As you laugh and play with the boys on the soccer field, a moment of realization occurs and you understand the pain they have gone through. This child was abandoned and left to provide for his brothers. He had to steal and beg just to find food. There is a moment when you realize that the kids I am holding have gone through more hurt and pain than I would see in a lifetime.
It is important for us to know and understand where each child has come from. It is even more important to hold tight to the Truth we find in Scripture! In John 9:5, Jesus proclaims that “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the World.” Our children know so much darkness. But, we can hold true to the fact that light will always over power dark. Jesus will always over power the darkness of their pasts. We don’t need to be burdened with the stories of our children, for Jesus has come and taken that burden upon Himself.
The 57 children who call the Grace Center home no longer live lives of pain, loss and abandonment. They no longer live lives of fear, abuse and destruction. Jesus has brought light into their darkness. They have hope!
It is my prayer, as our first team is feeling burdened by the stories of our children, they hold firmly to the truth in the gospel of John. Jesus is the Light of the world. His light shines in the darkest of places. He has come and has taken the burden of their pasts so that we don’t have to!