Soon exile become much more than a word to me. It encapsulated the stories of hundreds of thousands of children - some who were being held captive by cruel and demanding soldiers; others who were running frantically in the bush, trying to escape their captors; and still others who lived on desolate streets yearning for a home to which they could return.
The ending of their stories can look different from the beginnings I thought. I’ve heard it said that “where there is breath, there is hope,” and they were still breathing, so I knew they were alive.
Doing nothing was no longer an option. Not because I was fearless, but because my hunger to do “something” had become stronger than my fear.
My fear told me that the problems in Congo were too massive - that we couldn’t make a difference in the midst of a violent oppression that had gone on for decades. But my heart told me the true story: the children who had survived war across the word were deeply treasured by God. They were precious and valuable, and it was our responsibility - my responsibility - to make a difference.
Praying for God’s direction and reflecting on the lives I’d encounter, I felt a calling swell deep within my heart. I now know this calling was influenced by all God had walked me through: heart-ache and redemption, trauma and recovery, doubt and faith, naivete and wisdom. I could no longer turn away or pretend I had not seen what I had seen.
Mother Teresa once said, “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God.” She was changed when she came face-to-face with the dying and the poor of Calcutta. I was changed when I looked into the eyes of children orphaned and hurt by war. I am certainly no Mother Teresa. I am simply someone who had an open heart and open hands.
Yes, God. I can be a tiny pencil. Your pencil, I thought.