This is my second trip to Light of Hope. Already, it is every bit as emotional as my first trip was. In my post last night, I referred to Jesus’ teaching that greatness comes when we welcome the child. I wondered how those words would be lived in the next day. Little did I know that God had a plan that would break the hearts of everyone on our team for what breaks the heart of God.
After lunch, our team was invited into a classroom. The 66 girls, teachers and staff were standing in a circle. We were welcomed into the circle. Then three girls were introduced. That morning, three members of our team accompanied two staff from LOH. There were three girls and a boy ranging in ages 11 to 3 – children raising children. Their mother had died. They were being raised by their grandfather, but he is currently hospitalized and not likely to return. In an emotional morning, the three sisters said goodbye to their three year old brother (LOH only takes girls, leaving the boy under the care of a neighbor boy.), were taken to the hospital to say goodbye to their grandfather, taken to a store to be fitted for a school uniform and their first pair of shoes, and then taken to LOH where they received the first shower of their lives, were given new dresses that you provided, ate lunch, and finally introduced to us all. I tried, but I could not keep my tears from flowing.
Today you welcomed three children and in doing so, you saved the lives of three girls. By the end of the afternoon, all three had been embraced by the other girls. The smiles on these three faces was amazing.
Last Sunday, I preached during worship at LOH. I told the story of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10, where a lawyer asked Jesus, “who is my neighbor?” The swahili word for neighbor is jirani. I told the girls they would have an opportunity to be a jirani. I told the adults that they would have an opportunity to be a jirani. In that gathering after lunch today, I stood in the presence of room filled with jiranis – and I have no doubt that there was much joy in the Kingdom of God.
Today’s readings: Genesis 25-26; Psalm 6; Luke 10
We lead complicated lives. Our interpersonal relationships can be complicated. Our personal health can be complicated. Trying to understand our lives is often difficult. Even seeking to be faithful can be complicated. The priest and the levite were focused on being faithful and believed that stopping to help the wounded person by the side of the road would violate their understanding of what the Law taught them was necessary to be faithful. What does God expect? Love God. Love your neighbor. The more we love God, the more we will love our neighbor. To the extent we are the Jirani, we will live God’s love.
What a blessing to be a part of being, and seeing faith in action.
Always welcome the Jirani, never enough, and sometimes we choose not to see, but you did, and the world is a bit better for it.