Driving into the Philippi township on Wednesday morning, I prayed that the Lord would allow me to see the beauty in the faces of the people. I want to see your beautiful face shining here. Show me which of these are your children, Lord.
Women walked up and down the streets, blankets wrapped tightly around their torsos, a baby hidden somewhere in the midst of the bundle. Children ran up and down the streets, full of the same glee as every other child on the face of this planet.
As we were standing around in a medical clinic, I suddenly heard the bursts of uncontrollable joy, attempts at communication from a mentally retarded girl in a wheelchair. Immediately my heart was drawn to her. We had no time to talk with any of the patients -- this was strictly a tour of the facilities. Yet as I walked past her on the way in and out, I could not resist reaching out and stroking her back both times. "This is my beloved." O the beauty of God.
There is no difference between us and them. Money is just so meaningless. We are all in pain, though in very different ways. But what difference does it make really, whether you live in a beautiful mansion or in a one room shack? Is there food? Shelter? LOVE? HOPE?
Don't mistake, I am not meaning to downplay their hardships. They suffer in ways we will never understand. Many people intentionally get sick and keep themselves that way in order that they will receive money from the government to buy enough food. Young girls prostitute themselves for warm clothes for themselves or family. 13 year olds are heads over their younger siblings.
There is great hardship. But there is also great beauty -- because the Lord is just as much there as he is in America. His presence is just as pervasive. His existence undeniable. His image is in every face on earth.
For them: Please pray for hope, and hope realized. Pray in particular for the kids here at the Academy. Pray for a deeper understanding of the power of the reality of the gospel. They know the story, they know the facts. But there is something so different in experiencing its power. So pray that, through my own words and actions and those of the other staff, as well as through whatever means he so chooses, God would reveal his true self to these kids.
For me: Pray for my strength through the week, the first one where I will be working consistently. Pray for wisdom in the words in which I speak- that they might be his and not my own. And I just have this feeling that he is going to show me what it looks like for his power to be made perfect in my weaknesses. So pray that my heart is prepared for that.
And PRAISE him for providing me with deep conversations already, and a genuine, deep relationship already. Praise him for keeping me safe, for giving me rest, for waking me up every morning. Praise him for giving me love for his children. And Praise him for his beautiful vision for these students, and for allowing me to take a part in it.
Hallelujah and Amen.