So, I’ve been in Liberia for about three months now and, to be brutally honest, there are still moments where I have no idea what I’m doing here. There are times where I start thinking I’ve made a huge mistake, where I feel utterly overwhelmed, where I want to just run away, where I want to throw up my hands and throw in the towel. “Sorry, God. I can’t do this. You’re going to have to find someone else.”
Now that I’ve been here for a while, the excitement and “newness” starts to fade, and reality starts to kick in: I work with 100+ kids each week, each one with their own story and struggles and fears and hopes and dreams and needs. And I have to try and make each one of them feel special, each one of them know they’re loved. I have to give individual attention, speak life into each child, and encourage them to succeed.
There are moments where I come home from an orphanage and just cry, overcome with the enormity of the task at hand. There are days where I feel just … drained and helpless.
And when I start thinking: It’s only 100 children. There are thousands more out there, just like them. What about them, God?
What about the kids who live at homes without a director or even a caretaker, toddlers who wander off on their own in the community, going to their neighbor’s houses because there’s no food at the orphanage, and at least the neighbor will feed them? What about the little boys who roam the streets, hustling, trying just to make enough money to survive? What about the teenage girls who dream of becoming doctors, yet they’re still stuck in fourth grade; what do you do when you know that their dream isn’t at all realistic, that they’re more than likely not going to finish school? What about poverty and corruption and deep-rooted anger and death and loss? What do you do when your heart aches for what could have been; how do you rid yourself of the “if only” mentality and the deep sadness that comes with it?
Whenever I come to God and lay all of this before Him, I am reminded of 1 Peter 5:7 – “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (NLT). He cares about me, and He cares about the children of Liberia as well. He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future (see Jeremiah 29:11) – and that’s His plan for them, too. And when I believe that and I choose to give up all the worry and fear, it frees me to stop agonizing over the countless number of those I’m unable to help and instead focus on the one or two that I can. When I’m not thinking about everything I can’t do, I am able to see what GOD is doing here. Beyan, a little boy who, one year ago, didn’t even speak, runs to me whenever I come, smiling and chatting and giggling. Augustus, who used to be afraid to speak up in class for fear of giving the wrong answer, is growing in self-confidence as he expresses what he’s thinking and feeling. (Now he’s usually the one who gets the group discussions started!) I see kids starting to believe that they are special and unique because they were created by God. I see kids finally getting the chance to just be kids—playing and singing and dancing and laughing. I see Leemue’s face light up every time she gets a hug, and I watch Ruth smile whenever I ask her if she wants to pray. I see kids learning how to study, and I see their grades improving as a result. I see them getting the opportunity to be creative, to express themselves, and how much it means to them to have someone willing to listen to what they have to say, someone who cares about what’s on their minds.
Those are the moments that I cherish. Those are the moments that keep me going whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or inadequate or under-qualified; they’re reminders that I wasn’t meant to do this work alone, that it’s not even my own to do it all. They’re reminders that God is active in these children’s lives, that He is at work in real, tangible, and beautiful ways.
“…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phillippians 1:6)
Please join me in prayer for these kids as we watch Him carry on His good works. Pray for the fullness of His plans to unfold, for all that He has in store for them to be realized in each one of them. Pray that they know Him and love Him with all of their hearts, souls, and minds.