It so encouraging to see the words of Peter in his first letter to the Christian church being lived out in the ministries at HEAL Africa, especially our new outreach to street children in the city of Goma here on the Congo-Rwanda border. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 Last Saturday, we had 121 homeless children come through our gate; each welcomed warmly by the 30 servants who have been trained to care for these children. Even before they arrived, all 30 volunteers (many from our Sunday School leadership group) gathered the day before for an all-night prayer vigil for the children… all night!
As the children arrived on Saturday morning, I watched this group of young, dedicated servants interact with a hundred plus street children; some played with them on the playground, others engaged and led them in dance and songs, counselors met with the children individually, Koko, whose heart for these children started the program, talked with them about Jesus and shared the Bible. All the while a group of dear women from the church came together to cook and serve porridge; others washed the children’s ragged clothes cast aside as they went into the shower before receiving new clothing.
By noon as the children departed with energized spirits, the volunteers, exhausted from their all-night vigil and then hours (6am-noon) of counseling, nourishment, and love, nearly collapsed in their chairs, though with a renewed sense of purpose. They talked about the hardships these children face day-after-day living on the street … stigmatized, lost, forgotten, some having experienced unspeakable tragedies. The volunteers expressed their joy for the opportunity to serve in this manner and to show these children that they are precious in the eyes of the Lord, even if society has seemingly cast them aside.
During church service, the sermon topic for October has been servanthood. These volunteer teachers and dear women of the church with hearts for the children certainly show that every Saturday. It is not easy for any of us; it pulls at one’s heartstrings to see the scars and wounds many carry… the skin infections, the fatigue, and the intense desire for attention. But I believe their lives are being changed slowly; the word of God and loving hands are amazing healers!