On Thursday afternoon as the children of Boate village were leaving Reading Camp, they called out, “See you tomorrow,” and we Americans were calling back, “See you tomorrow!” And then it hit me, I would not be saying that tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. At best, I will get to say it next year. And the tears started. And even as I type these words, the tears gather in my eyes. Why?
It is because I will miss the bright, shy smiles, and the quiet and somber voices that grow through the week to giggles and sparkling eyes. I will miss seeing the reluctant readers who are fearful becoming excited and enthusiastic as they try. I will miss the seeing the teachers who use archaic methods that teach the mechanics of reading trying modern, scientifically proven methods that encourage the love of reading. I will miss hearing the strict tones being transformed into encouraging voices. In other words, I will miss seeing visible and real… TRANSFORMATION!
But even all of that is not why I’m writing this on my birthday, the day after the closing of two of our three reading camps for 2018, from Ghana. At Debi’s invitation 10 trips go, I came to Ghana for the first time, and I came reluctantly.
So, why do I return? Because the love of Christ compels me… and you, to love and bless and care for those whom he loves, which is everyone in the WHOLE WORLD, including those who are often forgotten, who have no voice, who live in remote places with minimal resources. What does the love of God look like? It looks like sharing our resources, our knowledge and material wealth. It looks like loving a village child and helping them to understand that they matter, that to God there is no such thing as being “just a village child.” The gospel mandate is to incarnate the love of God, just as Jesus became the incarnate Word of God for us.
Our incarnate word is HOPE. Jesus never gives up hope on us. We never give up hope of his love transforming lives, ours and those of the people he calls us to serve. What difference do five books make? They give hope, hope that all children can learn, that all teachers want to grow and learn, hope that these children we serve matter, they really matter, to us and to God. Five books and an American team willing to put God and others first translate into hope… and love. Is it possible that Jesus wants to speak hope and love through you to the children and teachers of Ghana? Never say never, I did that in 2006, and in the last decade I’ve had more birthdays in Ghana than in the US.
”So now faith… HOPE… and LOVE abide, these three…” (1 Corinthians 13:13a)