The rain beat with force on the tin roof all through the dark night. Not that I could sleep, I was too excited. The morning would bring not only the light and perhaps a little relief from the pounding rain, but it would also bring a huge transition for Circle of Hope and change the face of the Grace Center forever.
As night turned to dawn the rain slowed to a steady drizzle. The landscape was all deep brown mud and brilliant green corn. The chief, carrying his umbrella, came striding with long legs across the field. In a line behind him were three small children, Betha, Lino and finally, Joe, his small legs struggling to match the stride of the chief.
For two months, the children had begged from door to door in their village, their mother dead from AIDS, their fathers unknown, their grandmother recently passed away. Each night they would curl up to sleep on the porch of their uncle. As they slept, their uncle would weave his witchcraft around them, drawing them into terrifying dreams. The children would wake screaming from fear.
Finally, the chief brought them to the Grace Center. They were afraid of me when I welcomed them in. But my bowls of porridge were warm and my coloring books and crayons were interesting and new.
Pastor Phiri arrived at the door and shouted his greeting over the increasing volume of the rain. Joe looked up and leapt to his feet. “Abusa (Pastor)!” he shouted. He locked his arms and legs around Pastor Phiri’s leg and refused to let go.
That was the first day. They were our first children.
Joe, Lino and Betha, I see God’s fingerprints of grace on your faces. How he has transformed your lives from bondage and fear to joy and peace.
(Befa is pictured in the first image, she is in the top row on the far right. Lino is in the second photo, Joe in the final photo with the hat.)