I am at my keyboard, yet again, typing out stories and more stories. Stories of children with broken hearts and broken lives. Strangely, it is healing for me. Children forced on the front lines of a battle they do not wish to fight in a war they desperately wish to end. But it is not a war at all. Most wars have a beginning and some sort of end. There are rules to a war…..but there are no rules to madness.
If you think I am using the word lightly – I pray you will read on……
Sitting in the middle of eXile international’s one year old birthday week, I am taking a step back. Life has certainly changed since returning from Congo. I think about what this last year has held, and I am simply amazed. Not at myself. Not even at our incredible team that has come together in just the last few months –but of God. Of GOD. I am amazed at His calling. Of the fact that He believes in us enough to fulfill His dreams for these children. I could write pages on the providences that have come to pass this last year. I often get overwhelmed at the doors that He has opened and the people he has brought into my path along this past year’s journey. I talk often of seeing the fingerprints of God on what we are doing. Walking in His shadow – as He leads our work…..and there is no place else I would rather be.
Strange to think of the similarities between who we are as a team and those we are fighting for. Founded by two once-broken women being redeemed by a perfect Lord. Pieced together out of threaded heartstrings. Now surrounded by a team of the utmost talent and severe passion. Supported financially by paper beads made by the hands of former child soldiers or formally abducted orphans, selling photography of a chick who has no idea what she is doing, and the donations we get from random Great Samaritans. None of us do this full time – well, not and get paid for it anyway : ) Why? Why do we do it?
Let me share a few raw stories. Many of you have heard the stories that I’ve shared from the mouths of babes. But our first intern, Kathryn Campbell, recently returned from Uganda on her first trip to Africa with Sweet Sleep. This is a bit of Topistar’s story from Kathryn:
Topistar (pronounced more like Dopista) is a beautiful, intelligent, 12 year old girl that lives at Africa Greater Life Orphanage. I asked her if she could write her name for me. As she wrote, I asked her to tell me about her life. The following is word for word my letter from Topistar. Hopefully it will give some insight into why my heart is broken, and yet full…
my name is Namusisi Topistar.
i am 12 years old.
my brother is called david.
my mother is died when was sick.
my father is died when bad person killed.
my mother when died i am ever so young. (**here I asked her if she felt sad sometimes and how she felt…to which she wrote in response:**)
i feel bad person see me write on paper.
my father is work in police
my father is have young child the bad man came and kill father’s child and father is fight with bad man
the bad man was kill my father
me and my brother david hide my father is left there.
me and david pastor is help us.
think you to help bring beds.
think you. God bless you.
I love you.
The story goes on….Topistor is afraid the “bad men” are watching her. She saw her father die – but not just die. She watched him as he was decapitated. She was afraid to share her story because she was afraid the “bad men” would hurt her. Kathryn said that she wouldn’t let herself cry, and she kept stopping to do something else to distract herself away.
What do you say? What do you say to that? You say this:
He. Loves. You.
He will NEVER forsake you. Even as she and her brother were hiding from the rebels after seeing their father die a horrible death – He was there. Beside of her. Holding her hand. Feeling it or not – He was there. LOVING her.
What did Kathryn say? “I told her she could talk to God when she was afraid and that he held her so tightly and loved her even more than I did……which was A LOT : )”
There is a part of a story you can take with your camera and make it come to life. There is often an even bigger piece of a story that can come to life in film. But there is part of the experience of watching these children learn to share their hidden dark secrets, talk about their greatest heartache, draw God in the middle of their saddest moment – that, well, you can’t capture except by watching it. They leave with a different kind of lightness in their step. They leave with a different sort of smile. They leave with a different kind of Hope – and a knowing that they are not and never were and will never ever be alone. Ever.
When you feed a child, that which fills their stomach will disappear. Hunger returns. It always does. But if you teach a child to Hope, it will be their greatest companion on a hungry night.
Why do we do what we do? Because it needs to be done. We would love for you to join us…….
Thanks for sharing this Birthday Week with us.
Learn more here: http://exileinternational.
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