The Emotion from Saying Goodbye

Learning what it means to love 140+ kids Posing with all the kids
This photo was followed by hugs and tears

I’ve been on more than a few missions trips. Each one had spectacular moments of God showing up, of miracles, joys, sorrows and stretching, but I think I have never felt the emotion of the last moments with the kids in the way that I felt it on our last day with them. They have been through horrors I can’t even imagine. Thirty of them watched their fathers kill their mothers and then take their own lives. Forty percent of them lost their parents through suicide.  Some were placed on the black market for sale… How far down does a person have to go to be called “the least of these?”

And yet there is a joy there. The kids would light up at any interaction. They prayed and sang fervently. We went there to love them. They loved back. 

I am both amazed and ashamed. Amazed that God’s love transcends so much of the trauma that mankind’s evil has created in their lives. Ashamed of the times I indulged myself in self-pity over things that now seem so small.

I won’t remember most of their names, but I can’t stop seeing their faces and wondering if I am doing enough to help feed them. What goes on here is a miracle. It is life changing for them and for us. I’m both overjoyed and overwhelmed. There isn’t enough support for them yet – but by God’s grace we will get there.

The bottom line is that it takes $7000 each month just to keep them housed and fed. It doesn’t seem like much to sustain so many kids, but it’s more than we have been able to send. I don’t know how we’re going to raise the rest, but I know we have to try.

Of course this is more about bottom lines. It’s about people of God’s creation and what He wants us to do about the needs of those He puts in our path. What a responsibility. What an honor to know God can use me in some way.

So, we said goodbye. Pastor Kiran sat us down, invited some of the kids to put flower garlands around our necks and told each of us what we had brought to them. Then he invited us to start hugging. Some of the kids went to their storage boxes and grabbed whatever they thought was of value and brought it to us. I had tho most powerful feeling I did not expect. It was the same feeling when on three occasions an Indian Christian has knelt down before me and touched my feet. “Wow. I don’t deserve this…. Do they understand how flawed I am?”  It’s a high dose of both humility and grace with a shot of redemption. Nope, nothing I could do would make me worthy of anyone’s gratitude at that level. But it’s God’s grace makes us worthy. I was thinking of that as the kids came up to us and began to give us whatever they had. This humbles me, and that’s ok because I need to be more humble. This day made me understand love just a little bit more, and that’s ok because I need to love more.

So what should CTL’s slogan be? “Come to serve others and be completely humbled in the process?” Hmm, I don’t know if that looks good on a brochure, but that is what happens. Above all else, God is big, and way way bigger than me or what any human can do. But He calls us to be an important part of it. This mission was never about what we can do for God. It’s about what He does for us. 140 smiling and crying faces helped teach me something I can’t get in a sermon. I wish I could express it better so everyone could feel what I felt, but I know it’s a God thing and only He has the power to reach into a soul like this.

Go and find those moments in your life, in whatever path God leads you through. It’s worth the journey 🙂

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