The day will be seared into my brain until I die.
It was my first visit to Africa.
It was the first time I stood in the home of an orphan.
It was the first time I was wrecked.
I looked around at his “house” and I felt sorry for him.
He had nothing.
Not a bed.
Not more than an extra change of clothes.
Not even parents.
Water dripped through the holes in the tin sheet roof on our heads and I could see people urinating outside through the cracks of his walls. I could hear the death rattle of sick children coughing in the distance and the beckoning of young girls prostituting for food.
He lit his one candle and showed us how he did his homework. The tiny flame lit up the dark master-closet-sized home and illuminated the huge smile on his face.
You have nothing to smile about, I thought. He looked up like he could hear my thoughts. “Does anyone have any questions?”
I couldn’t clamp my sweaty hand over my own mouth and I blurted out, “How can you be so happy?”
He looked at me, probably offended but still grinned huge:
“Miss, I have Jesus. He is enough.”
His words were like a slap across my face. The sheer force of them made me stumble backwards. Because I had Jesus, too. Oh, I had a lot of Jesus. I had Him in the dozen of dusty Bibles in my house. I had Him on the radio presets in my car and on my t-shirts and crosses hanging on my walls. I had Him in a nativity on the entry table and on ornaments hanging from my tree.
Yes, I had Jesus.
But He wasn’t enough for me.
I left that orphan-led home in 2010 a different person.
For the first time in my life, I understood what home really is. It isn’t a place, it’s a Person.
And I am determined to spend the rest of my life bringing pregnant teen girls, oppressed wives, marginalized widows, lost girls–home through the work of Mercy House.
This is why I exist. This is my purpose. This is who I am.
It might look like fair trade product made of clay in Haiti, paper in Uganda, brass and bone in India, leather in Ethiopia, and birchwood in Ukraine–and maternity homes for traumatized girls in Kenya– but my purpose is to provide jobs for women so they can provide for their families because this is more than food on their table–it is our access road to the Gospel so they all can come home.
Home is not a place, it is a Person.
And He opens His arms wide and says to each of us: “Where are you, wanderer, trafficked, abandoned, isolated, forgotten, lost little one? Come home.
Where are you empty, bored Christian? Where are you saint feeling down and depressed this time of year and wondering who you are and where I am. Come home.
Come away from your sadness, lay down your hurt, taste mercy, you’re not too far to come home.”
More than 2000 years ago, Christmas changed the world. The birth of Jesus is the story of redemption, second chances and hope. And today, we have the opportunity to spend less on ourselves and give more to those in need. Christmas can still change the world when we remember the reason behind it.
Our culture celebrates Christmas with more stuff, more stress and more debt. Let’s celebrate this special time of the year by providing a place to call home for women around the world.
That’s why our goal at Mercy House for the month of December is to raise $50,000 …so we can provide hope and the love of a home this Christmas. We need your help to make it happen.
Yes, we give to meet a need, but more than that, we give because we have received so much. Nothing feels better than sharing what we have with those who don’t have enough.
Help us bring her home.