Friday, March 27, 2009

My Eyes Have Seen Holy

One part of our everyday schedule at Faith Alive was called "projects". This was the time you could help in the area in which you were interested. I used to like spending this part of the day walking around trying to meet people. There is a counseling unit that is part of Faith Alive's social services. The counselors help patients with how to prevent spreading diseases and how to cope with having a disease

One day I met a counselor named Rhoda. She was a pretty woman wearing a beautiful purple African dress and matching headdress. She was sitting at the desk in her office and waved to me to come in. After noticing an article on her desk by Rick Warren, who wrote "The Purpose Driven Life", I knew she was someone I wanted to talk to. "I am new" she told me. "You are new?" I asked. "Yes, I am new at this . I said "I am new new too! I have never been to Africa or any mission trip before". She said she was nervous. I reassured her. I told her about our church and how most of us had read "The Purpose Driven Life" together. She said "I know my life has a purpose now". She then told me her story.

Her husband had contracted AIDS. She took care of him and her three children. It was very hard for her to watch her husband get sicker and sicker and eventually die. Somehow despite her best efforts, her youngest child caught the disease and died. She cried to God how can this be. She felt guilty and ashamed. She felt like she didn't want to live anymore. She told of how the Faith Alive Family helped her regain hope and how they showed her God's love.

She said she had always had religion In her life. Her family took her to church as a child. But something was different now. She now knew Jesus Christ was her personal Savior. All she wanted to do now was to share her faith and to help other people who are suffering like she had been herself. She said He did not mean for us to be alone. We have to go out, share our faith and try to help people.

I was amazed by her story. As I walked back to the guesthouse that afternoon, I thought of how the AIDS disease leaves women and children alone. There is still a very strong stigma in that country concerning AIDS. So most of the men who get the disease do not seek medical help. Then sometimes the wives get it and also the children who have weaker immune systems then also get the disease. They have nowhere to go. There are no shelters or clinics run by government agencies or non-profit organizations. There are no nearby wealthy neighborhoods for donations or handouts. There is only Faith Alive - an oasis in the desert. And they depend on the mercy of other countries'donations. I wondered how would that feel to have to depend on the charity of another country for survival - that it would not come from a surrounding neighborhood, community, city or state - but another country.

As you walk down the street you see storefronts and houses that are little more than shacks. The Nigerian people wave to you, children run up to you. Everyone is saying "you're welcome" and "thank you so much". They are so grateful for the help they receive from America. I would have to just stop sometimes and catch my breath to keep from crying. They do not want pity. They need support and encouragement. They look up to our country. I think I was so blessed just to be born in our country.

After a few days you know the path very well from Faith Alive to the guesthouse. As I looked down the street before entering the guesthouse, I saw some children playing in the street. I remembered when Fr.Emmanuel(born in Nigeria) celebrated the mass at our church and gave the Nativity Nigeria team a blessing a few days before we left on the mission. During his homily he said "...when you see a dirty little boy playing in the street, will you be able to see Jesus Christ or will you only see a dirty little boy?"

Well, I saw Jesus Christ everywhere at Faith Alive - in all the wonderful children, in smiling welcoming faces, in staff's caring eyes and the mercy and love that is given to Faith Alive by Dr. Chris. I had such a strong feeling that my eyes were seeing Holy.

I played this song a lot on my CD player while I was there: "My Eyes Have Seen Holy" by Bebo Norman. Here are some of the lyrics:

...Mercy, weep over me.
Let your tears wash me clean.
Majesty, be merciful with me,
For my eyes have seen Holy.

Teresa Pompa

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