Glimpses of God are everywhere – in the small actions of churches loving neighbors, speaking out against violence, loving the differently abled. They appear in amazing acts of culture change when one lesson changes the way that a community looks at women. They are also in the stunning miracles that we hear where God turned up and did something that none of us can explain. Sometimes, it is just in the compassion and love that is shared by some of our team.
Last month I visited our Wholistic Development Center (WDC), a vocational and discipleship school. It’s lead by an amazing couple who are models of Christ’s love expressed in everyday life. I can’t name them because they work in a country closed to Christians and I don’t want to be responsible for causing them to lose their visa. It’s probably just as well, they aren’t the type that like being boasted on. For ease of writing I am going to give them the names Joe and Susie.
Joe and Susie have six children between the ages of 1 and 15 who they homeschool. That in itself seems like quite the feat to me. Beyond that they have another two guys living with them who are graduates of WDC – these students were orphans and are not quite ready to go back to their home towns and face the reality of being a new Christian in a hostile area. So they are living with Joe and Susie and continuing their studies at high school. Since before attending WDC, these two guys had a grade 5 education, they need quite a bit of coaching.
If that wasn’t quite enough confusion, they also had two children living with them over the summer for six months. The youngest needed significant surgery, so they cared for her as she went through that experience. In the midst of that, the children’s parents died – meaning they had two more mourning orphans living with them. If you have lost count we are now at six of their own children and four orphans they are also caring for. If that was me, I would consider myself slightly heroic and definitely wouldn’t be taking on any more. But that’s not true of Joe and Susie.
In addition to all of that they run the WDC, where they bring in students in all sorts of need and help them to know and love Christ while learning practical vocational skills. In past years students have included those escaping from child marriage and those who have come out of a trafficking situation. This year there are two students who have had one parent who was martyred. One has a mental illness and local doctors had given him significant amounts of medicine which seemed to be making the problem worse. Since he came to WDC, the team have taken him to a foreign doctor who has helped to wean him off his medication; he now shares he is feeling much better. The other student turned against God after losing his father and started to party and drink. Since joining the center he has rededicated his life to Christ, has been baptized and has told staff there that he wants to make his dad proud and serve God in the future. He now loves God. These are just two of the twenty-five students at WDC, each with a story, many of them difficult to imagine.
Joe and Susie live just a few doors away from the center, so WDC students are constantly dropping by. Each evening, Joe and Susie take all their kids down to the center to hang out. Joe and Susie spend their time listening, loving and helping students both succeed at the center and understand what it means to be loved by a great God. So all in all that’s 6 children, 4 orphans and 25 needy students. It’s a lot of balancing and pouring your life out for others. Watching them joyously move through life with what seems like relative ease, I am always left asking myself if I make enough space for others. Am I willing to be constantly interrupted by the needs around me?