It started with dramatic taglines, banners of injustice proclaimed in “Africa Red”:
THE ORPHAN CRISIS
THE AFRICAN AIDS PANDEMIC
So I came.
I came armed with hugs, kisses, and a few children’s books.
There were mobs of perfectly-brown faces with eyes that spoke of hope and hopelessness, joy and sorrow, broken and whole. And I was right-smack in the middle of the mob with my hugs, kisses and stories.
One on my back, one on my front, at least two clinging on to whatever fingers I had to spare, and two climbing up my legs. I was always covered in children.
Is this what it looks like?
THE ORPHAN CRISIS
It didn’t seem right. Good pictures and warm and fuzzy moments were plentiful. But that’s just how it started.
Then it got personal.
I became part of a family.
I became part of a church.
I became a mother.
I no longer go on missionary-appropriate “home visits”. I go visit my friends.
I don’t go with a goal. I go because I love them.
(And because I get cranky if my baby-kissing quota doesn’t get met everyday.)
And I don’t just go to their houses. I bring them home to mine.
We’ve been hosting outreach teams non-stop since the beginning of the year, so I will often bring a few team members along to each “home visit”. I love watching them love the people I love.
I love when they get to meet THE ORPHAN CRISIS and fall in love with the way Kevin hides behind the door, waiting for someone to come find him… or the way Charity wants to climb you like a jungle gym, taking risky moves, just to make sure someone’s always holding her tightly… or the way Tommy is like a tornado of destruction until he can find some way of getting out everything inside of him, and real joy and laughter wins out… or the way Lifa becomes the DJ and the choir in his backseat throne when he feels at home again… I love when THE ORPHAN CRISIS has names, faces, quirks, kisses and a story. Just like you and I do.
In-between teams this week, I got to visit my families and friends alone… and the personal, most-broken parts of them flowed out like secret fountains.
A 22-year old mother of 4 that I adore told me she’s getting kicked out of the tiny shack she calls home and her and her children, even her 6-month old, are getting beaten by her own sister. She doesn’t know where to go or what to do. She’s out of money and doesn’t even know how to feed her children.
A 22-year old friend and mother who went back to high school after quitting when she had children told me “there are demons at school.” The school is turned upside down by young women “slithering on the ground like snakes” and “screaming, screaming, screaming.” Students are traumatized and having nightmares.
THIS IS NOT THE ORPHAN CRISIS.
THIS IS NOT THE AIDS PANDEMIC.
THESE ARE NOT STATISTICS.
THESE ARE MY FRIENDS.
What do you do when it gets personal? When THE ORPHAN CRISIS is calling you “Mama” and when THE AIDS PANDEMIC is falling asleep in your arms because he’s just so malnourished?
There’s a fine and God-breathed line that answers that question, I think. I usually trip over it instead of walk on it…. Or kneel before it. I don’t think I should be losing this much sleep, or feeling this oppressed, or even feeling this lonely in the middle of it.
Maybe if I trip over that line enough times, I’ll learn where it is. And learn how to build an altar there. How to exchange my yoke for His there. Learn how to love and be loved there.
It’s supposed to be personal.
Jesus didn’t die for a statistic.
And there’s supposed to be enough. Enough arms, enough love, enough grace, enough healing, and enough of us to bring what we have to those who do not have.
One time Jesus and his disciples saw a mob. Mark 6 says their tagline of injustice was something like SHEPHERDLESS. The crown remained a nameless mob and a tagline to the disciples, so they told Jesus to send away to find something to eat.
But he answered, “YOU give them something to eat.” Mark 6:37a
It’s supposed to be personal.
They said to him, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
“How many loaves do you have?” he asked, “Go and see.” Mark 6:37b-38a
There’s supposed to be enough.
There was a miracle that day, and well over 5,000 ate.
They took what they had, Jesus blessed it and broke it… and there was enough.
That’s where the line is. The point where power and provision meet.
The harmony of Family, the faith in bringing everything I have, and realizing that it’s supposed to get personal between Jesus and I first - because He’s the One who made it personal, and there’s always enough in Him.
Jesus, here’s what I have. Bless me. Break me. Let there be enough.