When I went to Liberia, I was given the privilege of bringing soccer balls to give to schools that didn't have any soccer balls. (Thanks to the Antwerp Soccer Association, Dooley Funeral Home, and Floyd Ramsier for purchasing and sending me with these balls). The way our luggage worked is that I would have two suitcases. One that would be used for water systems and supplies for Hope 2 Liberia and one that I could use for the stuff I would need. I crammed my one suit case with fifteen soccer balls, air pumps, and needles. All my personal items were in my carry-on. I was going to bring soccer balls (footballs to them) to those that didn't have any soccer balls.
Before leaving, I thought giving away the soccer balls would be the best time of the trip. I knew that I was providing water systems that would give water that allows life. I knew that I was teaching lessons that would present the Gospel that would share the Living Water. In contrast to those things, soccer balls seem relatively meaningless. But, for some reason, I thought giving away the soccer balls would be the best thing ever.
And then I walked to the school to give away my first soccer ball. It was a school of around three hundred students. And I walked in. The students were crammed into rooms, receiving an education that will, hopefully, make their lives better.
The principal pulled the oldest class away from their studies for me to present the soccer ball to them. And grief just struck me. I don't know what it was. Maybe it was all of the eager students stuffed into rooms. Maybe it was the fact that these kids loved the soccer ball so much and had so little. Maybe it was the fact that my kids can misplace one of their many balls and forget about it while these kids have absolutely nothing.
When we gave away water systems to the families, I also had the privilege of giving away crayons at the end of the presentation to children. One crayon per kid. A crayon that would be their only toy. A crayon that they would love and cherish. A crayon. Just a crayon. The smiles. The joy. That just a crayon can bring.
I'm not going to repeat myself here (Opened Eyes - A Call To Help The Least of These) except to say that we are so blessed. And we let Calvinism creep in and think that this is just the way God wants this world. Or we let Americanism creep in and say that if they would just work harder they would have a better life. It's so easy for us to say that they need to do something. But if you were there, walking on those crowded streets, looking into those young, hope-filled eyes - if you could see those dirty streets and those old, hopeless eyes - you wouldn't think they need to work harder or they need to do this or that. You would say, "What can I do to help? What can I do to empower you to reach your potential and transform this nation from a place that was on the precipice of hell to what God intends it to be? What can I do to help you attain a better life?"
It's easy to tell people what they should do. It's much more difficult to ask, "What can I do?"
|The Mother Keebeh Academy in Monrovia, Liberia.|
|One of the Classes at The Mother Keebeh Academy.|
|The Class with their soccer ball.|
|A little boy who received a crayon|
along with a water filtration system
to keep him alive.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
|A picture of our bucket of crayons|
taken by Kelly Kuker
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:14-18 ESV).