Pastor Damour, Byumba, Ruzizi Rwanda Church of the Living

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Pastor Damour and his wife and ministry partner, Gloria.

 

Pastor Damour’s testimony is one of amazing grace and a life surrendered to God’s work in the far regions of Rwanda.

“I was born into and raised in a family of non-Christians. As I grew I was a terrible sinner. I was a drunkard for 17 years,” Damour shares of his history. Later, Damour began reading the Bible. “I read that the righteous would go to heaven forever, but sinners would be in Hell. I was very afraid of Hell,” he says. “I continued reading, and read Mathew chapter 7 on prayer. I decided I would begin praying. I began praying, and I prayed that God would grant me salvation, that God would keep me from dying without salvation.” Damour continued studying the Bible, and realized that Heaven could be his. “I believed, I repented of my sins, leaving them all behind me, and asked God for forgiveness of my sins. I then believed I should become an evangelist.”

After receiving Christ as his Savior, Damour began attending church, he was baptized, and began sharing about his salvation with others. “This was a very difficult time,” Damour shares. Due to his past, many did not believe he could have truly been saved. Many assumed within weeks or months, he would return to alcoholism, but as time continued, and he stayed faithful to his relationship in Christ, they began to realize real change had taken place in his life.

“As I continued to grow in my faith and pray about what God would have me do, I felt God leading me to begin a church,” he says. Damour began his first church in the same village where he was born, raised, and married to his wife Gloria. Many laughed at his efforts believing it would never be possible for him to build a church congregation let alone a building. As the years passed, a small group meeting in Damour’s home grew to a number large enough to meet on a plot of land he owned. They then built a small building, but soon outgrew this building.

In 2014 Love Alive met Pastor Damour, his family, and their growing congregation. Upon seeing this humble servant of God so dedicated in his faithful walk to witness in his community and disciple others for Christ, we chose to partner with this church. In the years since, we have seen God build a large physical church building to house the current membership. As this facility was being built, the previous shelter collapsed. The church membership has continued to grow with new believers, and Pastor Damour and his wife have continued in their mission to carry forth the gospel. They began two more churches in 2016 and 2017.

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The church still under construction.

 

If you were to visit Pastor Damour’s church, during the time of offering, you would notice that very few coins are given, but the church parishioners bring in their offerings of a sack of beans, a few avocados, a small bundle of maize. They are bringing the first fruits of their harvest to God. One of the ways the church has worked to raise funding on their own is by the entire church coming together to farm a field and give the proceeds to the church.

What a privilege it is to come along side a humble pastor who, saved by God’s grace, continues faithfully to share the message of salvation throughout his region. Pastor Damour’s family subsists off of their own farming. One of the needs of his family is the provision of yearly school fees for his children, especially his oldest daughter Sarah who is already a great asset in their ministry in evangelism, music, and teaching the children in Sunday School. While the church facility is now near completion, additional funding would assist the church in obtaining proper seating, making a kitchen area and a children’s teaching area, and assisting the poorest in the church with physical necessities.

Please pray for Pastor Damour, his wife, Gloria, their children Sarah, Abraham, Rebecca, and Elizabeth, and their church congregation. As you pray consider whether the Holy Spirit may lead you to assist this church through stewardship, which would provide them rich encouragement in the ministry God has led them to continue the past 10 years.

 

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Pastor Damour’s daughter Sarah teaching the children Sunday school.

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The church congregation gathered together in their new building.

Mission Team 2015

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Earlier this month a joint mission team led by Poplar Grove, and joined by members of Steven’s Street Baptist Church and Vine Branch all of Cookeville, TN blessed me with their time, their love and compassion, their hard work, and times of Bibles study with hundreds of Rwandans in many locations.

This team was a blessing last year, and they were just as much of an encouragement and support to the people and ministry this year.

The first day, the team ministered to one of our sewing centers, visiting with current students and graduates. As these students shared their testimonies there was a repeated theme: “I had no ability and no opportunity for improving my life, but God opened up this opportunity through this sewing center of Love Alive, and now I have a chance to make a better life.”  The students blessed the team with hand-made gifts and fruits from their gardens, while the team shared Bible teachings and practical gifts. Former graduates invited us to their cooperative to demonstrate for us how they are working together and producing good work to sell in the markets.

The team spent the next 3 days in a village church, ministering both to the church and the community. The goal was to develop a friendship between the local Rwandan church and community and the guest churches. The team held daily services of Bible teaching, Bible study groups of men and women, and children’s classes as well. They visited many families in the community to read Bible passages and pray together, and saw 2 people accept Christ as personal Savior. One of the most unique things the team participated in during this 3 day-partnership of churches was “mudding” the church’s newly constructed building. This mudding process consists first of gathering large quantities of dirt, manure and rocks, mixing them thoroughly together, and coating the outside of the building in order to seal it and protect the building from erosion.  Due to gifts given through donations to Love Alive, we also presented this church with funding to add doors and windows to their facility. They were so grateful for this gift that they had the doors and windows ordered to arrive the very next day.

Before leaving this village, the mission team was able to meet a nearby church in the same community, and provide 60 Bibles to adult believers there. In this church of over 100 adults and children, only one member in addition to the pastor owned a Bible. It is a great privilege to be able to give God’s Word and encourage His people to read and get to know Him better. As I sat in this little church only half constructed of unfinished mud brick, but happy believers actively worshipping, I could not help but contemplate the dissimilarity of the average American church in priority and desire to serve and worship against all odds.

The following day, the team visited our second sewing center of 30 current students and several graduates who came to thank the team and tell of how they are now succeeding with the tools they have gained. It is often difficult to know who is gaining the greater blessing, the team in hearing the testimonies of persons assisted, or the beneficiaries we meet. That same day the team traveled to the hospital with which Love Alive works closely in providing funding to patients in need. After a brief meeting with the staff who welcomed us to openly share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the team went to each room, visiting each patient to pray with them, and bring small gifts to aid in their recovery, remind them they are loved, and that God, our Great Healer, is watching over them. The final stop of the day was visiting 100 sponsored students in this area to share a Bible lesson and play games together. The children were in awe and full of enthusiasm to see and play with the colorful parachutes, something they had never seen before.  Several of our team members were able to meet some of their sponsored students. I cannot imagine that any other experience could make more real to these children and their families the love and compassion they are receiving than meeting the sponsor who loves them enough to enter their world and give them assistance. I imagine that nothing makes the necessity of the gift given more real to the sponsor than seeing the dire needs of these children and their families, and meeting the beautiful lives they are touching and impacting daily than a face-to-face meeting.

The day before leaving, the team visited recipients of one of our most recent chicken projects, delivering more food and nutrition supplements for the chickens, and sharing Bible teachings with the group. After this, the team visited two different churches in this same village. The first church had received Bibles from Love Alive in July, and the visit was to encourage the local believers and strengthen our friendship. It was a blessing to see so many Bibles in use amongst this group. At the next church, the team was able to give Bibles to about 75 believers. Most of these recipients had never in their lives owned a Bible. With each church that is given Bibles, it is our desire to go back and share in Bible teachings and reading to encourage the daily use of God’s word.

Before leaving on their final day in Rwanda, the team was able to visit some of my favorite children, a group of children living in the worst conditions I have ever seen in this country. Love Alive began sponsoring these children after they repeatedly would find me in the streets as they begged for food. They quickly claimed themselves as my best friends, invited me to their home and became some of our first sponsored students. As there was nowhere else to meet or play, the team played soccer and taught a Bible lesson in the midst of heaps of trash and ditches filled with sewer. These children were so excited to have visitors come and see them and play with them. While their living standards are lacking, I could see the effort they had put into making themselves and their homes ready for special guests.

As soon as I see any of the men, women, children and churches visited by this team, their first question to me is and will continue to be, “How are our friends? When will they return to see us? Please tell them we love them and miss them. We are waiting for them to return.”

Mission teams have a way of impacting lives, building friendships and encouraging local communities and believers in a way that no other thing can accomplish.

I thank each member of this team for their love, compassion, their time, efforts, vacation days given and exhaustion from long flights and travel that is not always smooth in this continent. I also thank each church that was involved and supported its members in this journey.

God bless you.

Allow me to take this opportunity to assure you that you have a standing invitation to come to Rwanda and join us in the ministries and see God working. Whether you would like to come as a church mission team, as a family, group of friends, or an individual, you are welcome. Please feel free to contact me via our contact page and let me know what you might be interested in. We can work together to craft a trip according to your desires for ministry and international experience.

Needs here that can be addressed through short-term trips include:

Bible teaching to pastors, church leaders, teachers and lay-persons.

Children’s ministries through sports, play, Bible Clubs, Vacation Bible Schools, Sunday School Trainings to church leaders, and teaching children in schools.

Encouraging and supporting local trade, and increasing creativity and ingenuity. If you have a passion, a talent, an art form that you can teach, it may be very valuable to come and teach that.

Ministering to individuals in hospitals, prisons, and homes, sharing encouragement, prayers and friendship.

The Boy Who Wants a Leg

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He doesn’t remember the accident. He has no recollection of having two good legs. They tell him it was an accident that caused it. He knows only that he was very young when his mother died, and that when he was far too young to remember, his father also abandoned the children.

What he does know is that 3 years ago, when he was only 9 years old, he had had enough of the abuse by relatives. He climbed in the back of a truck, and made his way into the city, hours from home, to try to make a living on his own.

I met Eric one day as I walked through a major intersection just outside Rwanda’s international bus station. This heavily trafficked area is home to many boys who at some point decided that life on their own must be better than the life they had at home. I saw Eric with two other children. The other two were fast asleep on the curb. Eric sat hoping for a few coins to get food for another day. As I saw him, and noticed he had no leg, I felt compelled to sit down with him. I plopped myself on the curb with him and his two sleeping friends.  A white girl sitting on the sidewalk with a few begging children, draws quite a large crowd. Eric and I soon found solace in a nearby café. As he sipped his orange soda, he filled me in on his story.

For the past 3 years, he has come to these same streets daily to beg. He usually is able to get between 50 and 75 cents per day. He comes to the streets by maneuvering in a crab-walk fashion with his 2 arms and one leg. He is often mocked and shunned by other children and pedestrians as they pass by. He had a wheel chair at one point, but someone stole it one night. His one source of support has been a young man who noticed Eric in the streets. A young mechanic noticed Eric, took time to get to know him, and soon began allowing Eric to sleep in his shop or at his home. This is the only friend or family Eric has had for the past 3 years.

I asked Eric how I could help him, if there was one thing I could do for him, what would he want? School? Food? Money? A bed? Eric quickly answered, “I want akaguru {a leg}. He has heard of prosthetic legs and dreams that if he had a leg, he could run and play and go to school like other children, that he would not be shunned because he is different.

I later met with Eric’s mechanic friend, and later this week, we will begin seeking out a doctor to see what can be done to help Eric. We will learn if he is a candidate for a prosthetic leg, or whether other assistance is more appropriate for him.

My day with Eric has been a strong reminder of the needs all around me here. I’m blessed to know him, and look forward to learning together if we may be able to find assistance for his physical needs.

February 2015 Update.

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Dear Family, Friends and Partners of Love Alive,

Psalm 145:3 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.

I cannot believe three months have passed by since I last updated you. Before I plunge into the news and updates, let me just praise our Heavenly Father who is working here and blessing this ministry. Next I wish to thank each and every one of you for your prayers and your taking part in this ministry. In the month of December we had several individuals and churches that sent gifts above and beyond the usual in order to bless recipients here with education, vocational training, Bibles and sustainable projects. I thank you so much for your involvement, because you are very much a part of the ministry allowing God to work through you.

December was a busy ministry month in which we were able to hold two children’s Bible schools in rural village churches. At each Bible school about 200 children each day came to learn about Jesus Christ’s love for them and salvation through Him. We also held another Sunday school training with teachers and pastors from 10 churches coming together to learn how to effectively teach God’s Word to the children in their congregations and neighborhoods.  As Christmas approached, we had the joy of blessing hundreds of children in hospitals and Sunday schools with Christmas gifts. Incredibly, though each gift bag has toys and candy, families are often exceedingly thankful for the personal care items such as soap.  With each gift, we share the message of Jesus Christ being the first Christmas gift. This year, I had the joy of taking 2 young boys, formerly “street kids,” now our students with me to deliver gifts. It was a special joy to watch them tell others about Jesus’ love for them as they shared gifts.

January began first with relocating and then enrolling new students for each of our sewing centers. Last year, our first sewing center began to help a few ladies learn a skill. This year we have 65 women in our sewing centers. Many of these women never had the opportunity to complete elementary school, and are only able to find unskilled labor mostly in plowing and harvesting fields. For working in the fields an entire day, they are given only $1, yes One Dollar, for an entire day’s work.  The greater part of the expansion this year includes the addition of many mothers of our own sponsored students. These women requested to learn a skill to be able to better support themselves and their children. Many of these women have no other assistance or support.

Our sponsored students began a new year of school on January 26, 2015. This year, by God’s grace and with your benevolence, we have 285 children we are already sponsoring. If you sponsor a child, please pray for your student, that they will have the nutrition they need each day, peace in their homes, understanding of their materials, and a desire to know and follow Christ.

January also was the beginning of a new chicken project wherein we were able to give 160 chickens divided up among 20 families. Each of these families was ecstatic at the prospect of raising chickens for nutrition and income-generation for their families. In short, each chicken, purchased for about $5 has the capability of reproducing $50 worth of eggs. In deep villages where many families do not earn even a dollar per day, this is a big boost to their welfare. It is such a joy to be able to tell them that this gift comes to them because of Christians, and in this case children, who want to share Christ’s love with them.  As we gave the chickens, a village leader addressed the recipients stating, “Truly, this is a gift of God for people in America to think not only of Africans, and not only even of Rwanda, but to find our village hidden out here and bless us. Only God could lead them here.”

Finally, as we continue to distribute Bibles, this year we are making an effort to bless entire church congregations with Bibles for each member. The goal is to be able to be able to give Bibles to one church each month. I believe that great spiritual growth can come when people are able to read and study God’s Word. A special thanks to those of you who regularly give specifically for the distribution of Bibles.

Once again I thank each and every one of you for the part you have in this ministry.

God bless you richly!

For His Glory,

Laura Yockey

Ephesians 6:23-24 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

Wrapping up 2014

Wrapping up 2014

Dear Friends & Family,

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I have just returned from 4 days in a rural village a few hours from here where we saw several visitors come to Salvation during the Sunday morning service. Monday through Wednesday, we held a Children’s Bible school. While the church normally has about 60 children in attendance we saw 200 each day for Bible school. Our emphasis was on Jesus, His miracles, His love for us, and His great Salvation.

Last month I was thrilled and blessed to have our first mission team come to visit. The team made up of members of Poplar Grove Baptist Church and one member of Stevens Street Baptist Church, both in Cookeville, TN participated in a full week of ministry outreach from children’s programs in local schools and churches to encouraging believers in the church and in their homes. Upon visiting a rural church and learning that only 5 of the 60 adult members owned a Bible, the team provided Bibles for this church. The team was certainly a blessing wherever they went, and I am so grateful for their visit. If any individuals or teams are interested in visiting here, I will do all I can to arrange accommodations and help you plan a great trip.

After being in the US for several weeks, I was glad to see that both of our sewing centers were continuing on well. Our first sewing center will have its graduation in December, and a new class of women will begin in January. We have already had more than 20 women apply to be part of our next center. Many of those applying are parents of our sponsored students who realize if they had a skill they would have the ability to provide for their own families. We will also expand our second sewing center in January with an additional class added there.

Many of you may have seen my recent post referring to a young boy I had met in a hospital who was suffering terribly, but unable to receive treatment due to lack of funding. As he has the social healthcare here, the cost for his treatment was $1.65. As a result of meeting and helping this young boy, I was able to meet with doctors and other staff at this local hospital where we have begun a fund where people who are unable to receive medical treatment will be treated through this fund. The hospital was very grateful for our help, and I am grateful that we are able to be the help to alleviate suffering for many.

I wish to give a special word of gratitude for all who have contributed money for Bibles. We have been able to give almost 200 Bibles to individuals requesting them just in the past several weeks. A couple weeks ago, I had stopped in a store to make a purchase. As I went to pay, a worker in the store saw a Bible in my bag and requested it. When I gave it to her, she began shrieking with delight, causing a second worker to request a Bible. These two young girls fell on their knees, arms lifted heavenward, praising God, and then called to their friend to come see that they had Bibles. The friend requested and took the third and final Bible I had with me that day. I continue to see these girls frequently, and they remain thrilled with their Bibles. Thank you. Next week, I will be able to give Bibles to each adult member of a second church congregation where only a handful have Bibles of their own. Imagine the church growth that can come as a result of each member having a Bible to learn and study God for himself.

As a new month approaches, I continue to meet daily with persons desiring sponsorship or vocational training. In the month of December we have scheduled another Vacation Bible School, and a Sunday school training of various churches, graduation of our first Sewing Center, and Christmas projects for children.

Each time I write an update, I am reminded of the wonderful things God is doing here, and I am grateful to be a small part of this work. That said, in the past 2 months, I can tell you that Satan has been fighting on many levels working to defeat me, and the ongoing ministry. I appreciate your prayers for the power of the Holy Spirit here and that we would see God work in marvelous ways. 

May God bless each of you as you remain faithful to Him. Enjoy this season of Christmas.

With gratitude,

Laura Yockey

Sponsorship FAQ

Sponsorship FAQ

For many who now have a sponsored child, you may have questions specific to your child and his/her information. I have tried to list some questions I presume may be frequently asked and provide answers for you.

Why does my child not have a birthday listed?
While dates, including birthdates, are extremely important here in America, most Africans give little attention to time including details such as dates. Birthdays are also not celebrated or recognized in any way for most. Most children do not know their birthdays, neither do their parents. Frequently even confirming the correct year of birth is difficult. For example a child may state he is 7 years old and born in 2009. Obviously one of these two statements is false. Furthermore, if there is documentation such as a birth certificate or other identification, the date was likely made up.

My child appears to be in a school uniform in the photo. If he was already in school, does he still need my help?
Yes! Your child needs you! Some students were sponsored to attend school in 2013 by Love Alive International, but were not matched with a specific sponsor. Others may have been admitted to school on the understanding that their fees would be paid at a later date; however, when the fees are unpaid, the child is removed from school. Finally, some students have come to us specifically with a specific need or situation warranting their need for help. Never doubt that your sponsored student needs you and is greatly blessed by your support.

Some of the students are young, but I also notice that many are older teens. Why do older students still need sponsorship?
Very young children are the first to find sponsors. They are adorable, innocent and helpless, and their need for help is easily understood. Sometimes it is not as easy to see that inside older students are the same children needing our help. They are still coming from rural villages where their families survive off of their family gardens, money for school fees is difficult to accrue, and this child still has no means of self-support. Education is still vital to her future and the potential of overcoming the cycle of poverty. One reason that it is vital to support older students is that they are so very close to the end of their secondary education. They have come too close to attaining that level of education to quit now. If a student is able to perform very well in lower secondary school, she can be offered a placement in a quality school for upper secondary. If a student is again able to excel in upper secondary school, the government often will award scholarships to such students.

My student is 15 and only in fifth grade, why? Does this mean he is unlikely to succeed?
While a student so much older than his grade level is almost unheard of in the USA, it is rather common in Rwanda. The reasons for this are various. Factors include poverty (inability to pay for school fees, uniform and supplies), family needs (children often work for the family fetching water, sticks for fire, cooking and washing for the family, tending the animals, or, in some cases, are sent to work for other families to provide income for the family), illness, or major changes in family systems (death of a parent, lack of food meaning a child is sent to live with another relative, thus leaving his school). All of these factors, prevalent throughout third-world countries, impact many students; thus it is not at all uncommon for children of widely-varied ages to be together in one classroom.

How can I contact my sponsored child?
You are welcome to email a message, family photos, and even request an update on your student at lovealive4africa@gmail.com.
Emailing provides a free way to communicate. There is no residential mail-delivery system in Rwanda, and at this time we do not have a specific post office for student sponsorship mail. I will personally deliver any emails and also see that your sponsored child communicates with you as well.

What exactly does my $35 sponsorship cover?
With the gift of your sponsorship, your sponsored student will be provided a uniform, school fees, and all necessary school supplies (usually consisting of various paper notebooks, pens, pencils and math tools). Occasionally, when a particular school’s fees are lower than budgeted, we are able to provide classroom resources such as a soccer ball, flashcards, classroom decorations or other materials that will enhance the learning experience of our students.

What else can I do for my sponsored student?
Please pray for your child. You will be considered a part of their family by them. If you send a photo, it will be hung on their wall. They will tell others about their American family who loves them. You give them the pride and joy of being cared about. If you ever have any questions about your sponsored student, you are always welcome to contact me at lovealive4africa@gmail.com, via the website lovealiveinternational.com or via our Facebook page Love Alive International.

The Flip Side of Sacrifice

Often when people think of missions they seem to equate the idea of sacrifice right along with it. While this can be true, I’ have personally always focused on the opportunity, adventure and potential in the mission God has given me.  I really cannot recall the great number of times others have lamented to me their pity for the things I live without. These things usually include ESPN, electrical appliances, fast food, hot water, and so the list goes.

I thought I should share some of the benefits of living in a third-world country with all of its “sacrifices,” randomly listed here.

While the thought of not owning a car is unfathomable to many, not having a vehicle means I don’t worry about the price of gas, I haven’t had a ticket in the time I’ve been in Africa, my mom doesn’t have to worry if I text and drive, I don’t worry about the insurance renewal bill coming in the mail or my tags expiring, and I get free exercise every day. No gym membership required.

Healthy, organic and all-natural foods are at my disposal. Sure, I live in a world without hamburgers, French fries, pizza, Oreos or ice-cream, but if you’ve done grocery shopping lately for your family you’d be excited about 50 cent pineapples, 15 cent avocados, and  10 cent bananas. Meat doesn’t get any fresher than picking your own live chicken or making your own selection of whole-cow.

Having no refrigerator, hot water heater, oven, microwave, air-conditioner or heater means a host of appliances that I don’t have to worry about repairing and replacing. It also means I don’t get frustrated with things that don’t work the way they’re supposed to, or technology that has to be reprogrammed. You’d be surprised what you don’t miss when it is not an option.

When the main concern of everyone around you is survival, no one has to worry about the latest fashion trends or “keeping up with the Joneses.”

In Africa, there are very few mirrors or scales. As a matter of fact, the only mirror in my home is a hand-held make-up mirror, and I haven’t been on a scale since I left the States. Any woman knows what a relief that is! There’s a certain freedom in not seeing your image reflected at you in every store, bathroom, bedroom etc. This means far less self-evaluation and deprication and more time to focus on the really important things. And, ladies, I haven’t seen a 3-way mirror since I landed in Africa. I think the benefit of that is self-explanatory.

So, the next time you start to pity the poor missionary without the zillion things you think you could not part with, remember the flip side. They get some pretty sweet benefits.

It Gets a Little Messy Being the “Good Samaritan.”

It Gets a Little Messy Being the “Good Samaritan.”

Haven’t you always just loved the Good Samaritan? Each and every time I have heard this story as told by Jesus in Luke 10, my heart is full of joy for the deeds of the Samaritan; but I must admit a great deal of disdain for the Priest and the Levite. I find it easy to feel contempt for them as they walked past this poor man in need simply turning away. I suppose, that you, like I have, have always determined in your heart to follow in the path of the Samaritan rather than the priest and Levite.
With all the frustration I have felt toward these religious persons who seemingly turned away from the need in front of them, I have recently begun to reread this passage and offer the slightest bit of grace to the priest and Levite that I had previously withheld. The passage doesn’t actually tell us where the priest and Levite were going or why they did not stop. It is quite easy to assume they were simply too pious, too busy, too self-righteous or self-consumed to stop, but what if it was none of those? What if they were in a hurry to get to the temple on time, or were on their way to work at a charity, had an important meeting to which they were afraid to be late? How many times have you thought of stopping to help an elderly person carry a heavy load, or thought about stopping to help someone with mechanical trouble only to realize you had only 5 minutes to be on time? How many times does our urgent agenda overshadow our opportunity to be the Samaritan?
Even more thought provoking, what if seeing someone maimed, needy or begging in the street was so common place they hardly noticed, or looked the other way simply because they could not help them all? I’m not certain of the conditions of Jericho and Jerusalem at this time, but from my American perspective, it was formerly hard to imagine more than one person in such great need simultaneously. In my current location, though, I see this as a great possibility.
You see, I’ve always envisioned myself (maybe you have too) as the one who would most certainly go out of my way to help the one in need. Recently, however, I’ve been surrounded by the maimed, the mad, the orphaned, abandoned, forlorn, homeless and destitute. While I often go out of my way to help one or a few, I simply cannot offer the empathy, compassion, encouragement or resources to the masses that I wish were possible. I may see a woman in the streets cradling a sick child, while I stop to help her get her child medical aid, I must walk past a man with no feet left on the side walk to beg, a woman blind and severely disfigured, and a barefoot child in ragged apparel who is picking trash. While it may be easy for a bystander to applaud my kindness to the one, my heart is overwhelmed with the multitudes needing their “Good Samaritan.”
It’s interesting how much we can add into a Bible story that is not actually in the Bible. Don’t we just assume that after the Samaritan took the victim to the inn and paid for his keeping that everything turned out happily? The truth is we don’t really know what happened. We don’t know if the man’s injuries continued to require treatment, if he survived, if he was found to have ongoing needs that the Samaritan needed to continue to aid. We don’t know about the bystanders and what they may have muttered. Can you hear the possibilities?
“Who does this Samaritan think he is.”
“He should just leave this man alone.”
“Leave this for the authorities to take care of.”
“That’s not how I would have done it.”
“Doesn’t he know this is dangerous?”
And what about the innkeeper? It’s not every innkeeper who is thrilled with the idea of being responsible for a man “left for dead.” Can we say, “liability lawsuit”? Wouldn’t it have been easy for him to complain, wonder why he had to take on this burden, or feel distraught that this would detract from the image of his inn, or interfere with the environment of other guests?
Sometimes, helping people feels really good. It’s rewarding and gratifying, but I’m realizing that being a “Good Samaritan,” actually gets a bit messy. It’s not all “happily ever after.” You see, helping people isn’t always easy; at times it is tricky, tiring, and even overwhelming. The answers are not always obvious, and others involved are not always supportive of the work you do. Believe it or not, sometimes the very ones you have worked the hardest to pick up from the rubble are not even grateful for what you have done. Yet, we are still called to love. We are compelled to have compassion for the hurting and wounded. We are asked to walk in the footsteps of Christ.
These are simply ponderings of my heart. I realize it is a parable, leaving much to the imagination. Feel free to share your thoughts, your wisdom, your lessons learned. I’m simply sharing a piece of my heart.

Have you ever had someone walk into your life, and almost instantly you know you will be changed because of this encounter?

Have you ever had someone walk into your life, and almost instantly you know you will be changed because of this encounter? I still do not know all that this little boy has instigated in my life and mission, but I know he is the beginning of something. He has certainly drawn me into the circle of street children and has me researching and learning as to what can be done. I was walking home from language study when I saw him- caked with dirt, barefoot, wearing only a shirt, carrying a big bag over his shoulder and picking trash. I instinctively walked up to him and put my arm around him, asked him his name and asked him to come with me into the market to get a pair of shoes. At the entrance of the store, he instinctively withdrew. Street children are often shooed away from storefronts as they are seen as a nuisance to customers who don’t want children begging or stealing from them. “It’s ok.” I told him. “You’re with me.” I bought him some shoes, some bread and milk, and soap. By the time we left the store, he realized we were friends. He asked for some clothes. I explained that I was out of money, but we could walk together to my hotel, get him a bath, and I could see about buying him some pants. One of my favorite memories of this little guy is what he did next. We had walked about a kilometer when he suddenly took the large bag he’d been carrying over his shoulder and tossed it into an open field. It was as if he realized he did not need to be carrying that burden anymore and he tossed it aside.
We continued to walk along, him drinking his milk and eating his loaf of bread, while I worked on a plan of what to do now! He explained (with the help of bystanders who interpreted) that he was 10 years old, was very unhappy at home due to many family issues, and had hopped the back of a banana truck to come to the city where he had heard he could live. Now though, he just wanted to go home. Hotels are no fonder of street children on their premises than are stores and restaurants. Once at the hotel, he bathed and I washed his clothes and found some of mine for him to wear, at least until his dried. I could not tell you when the last time he had had a bath. His clothes had certainly not been washed in a long time. I hand-washed them four times, but they continued to wring out in filthy, murky-brown water. Once he was clean, he made himself at home in my room. I lent him my laptop and let him watch The JESUS film. He watched it once and wanted to see it again. He watched it again, and then fell asleep in my bed watching it for the 3rd time.
Now, I was stuck! While he was sleeping, I contacted several people asking about laws and protocol in Rwanda. No one seemed to agree on what the right thing to do was. The next morning he awoke and smiled brightly as soon as his eyes opened. I told him I had to go to the village and asked what he was going to do for the day. “Stay with you!” he replied. We spent the day together, with him tagging along as I ran errands and met with other people. He watched The JESUS film two more times. After consulting several persons whom I trust, I decided that the best thing to do was to get him home as soon as possible. Surely he had a mother begging God to send her little boy home. As much as I wanted to go with him to learn more of his story, or how I could help his family, after much prayer and recognizing my own limitations, two days after I met him and inadvertently invited him into my life, I took him to the bus station, put him on the bus, paid his fare and explained in great detail to the Chauffer exactly where to take him. I looked in the bus and found him crying. “I just want to live with you!”
I told him I’d see him again, and had to walk away. I knew I had done what I could, but was it enough? I have only a temporary visa, no permanent lodging and no means of or intention of permanently caring for a child. The culture dictates that if children are found in the street, the appropriate thing to do is send them back home. But I have to wonder what must be going on at home for a ten year old boy to decide that living alone in the streets with no shelter and little food was better than home. This was the question I could not answer, but that I wished to answer. I prayed for this little one and asked God that I could one day know what happened to him. I had sent my name and phone number tucked in his pocket in case he or his family ever needed anything. Walking away, I knew I had to learn more, to collaborate with others and find ways to help in more beneficial ways than a 2-hiatus from the streets in my hotel room. I knew this little boy would not leave my heart, and that something was being stirred deep within.
I put him on the bus on Sunday morning, I went back to the bus station twice that week to try to ask about his whereabouts and if he had made it safely home. Throughout the week, I came in contact with several other street children to whom I gave bread and milk and shoes where needed, but none followed me. I also met with a man here who has begun a ministry with his wife to feed street children 3 times per week. He’s working with sponsors in trying to help teach skills to the older teens living in the streets so that they may someday get a job and earn a living.
Friday night, I was walking through town to the bus station when I noticed a little street boy. They’re quite easy to pick out. I walked out of my way, just to see if they little guy needed anything to eat. As I approached, he turned around and to my great surprise there was the same little boy I had put on the bus and sent home only 5 days before! If there was any doubt, he was still wearing my shirt, which now was filthy and had holes in it. I hugged him and exclaimed, “What are you doing here? I put you on the bus!” With some help interpreting from bystanders, it became clear, that once I had walked away, he had decided he was not going home, and had gotten off the bus. He took my hand and asked to go get something to eat. As much as I would have loved to wrap him up and carry him home with me, I knew I could not take him with me. We live in a world of international child trafficking, and I wanted to be very upright in how I handled this. As we walked down the street, I saw a police officer and approached and explained all of the above. They said they had a “program” for street children and would escort him back home. I again gave them my name and phone number stating that if his family needed anything, or if I could pay his school fees to send him to school to please contact me. As I said, “goodbye,” I noticed he was again crying. Had I let him down? Had I failed him in some way? And again, the nagging question of what must be going on at home for a child so young to so desperately want to be free.
I don’t have the answers yet. It is possible with this little boy, I may never know his full story. I don’t even know what it will mean for the future that our paths crossed. I do know that he has left an impression on my heart, and that I will continue seeking the answers for him and all of the little boys sleeping away from home tonight.