I have just returned home from a 10 day trip to Burkina Faso, Africa. I saw hunger, disease, hope, joy, generosity. I felt hot, dusty, thirsty, loved, appreciated, encouraged, hospitality, inspired. I was filled with heart-breaking experiences that consumed my heart with compassion. I wish I could put it into one simple post and tell you what what all this means. But I cannot.
Pastor Herb asked me, prior to leaving on this trip, if I would help tell the story of Jesus at Tabitha House. He wanted to use John 3:16 as the basis of our message which I just happened to be writing about that day as I was knee deep in planning summer camp. So I quickly had an idea. We had a rough draft and plan within minutes.
But when he walked away, I was humbled, and yes a little intimidated, considering I’d be traveling with ten senior pastors from ten churches. Certainly they were more qualified and certainly I had made a mistake in saying yes. I held on to that thought for a few minutes, when I remembered that when Herb asks for something, he usually means it. And he wouldn’t have asked if he didn’t want me to do this.
And so, I had the honor to share with the women of Tabitha House that Jesus knows each and every one of them. And even knows them by name.
Pastor Herb opened by telling the story of a conversation Jesus had with a woman who walked up to the well where he was resting. I don’t know if he said her name out loud, but he knew enough about her to catch her attention. That intimacy, I believe, made it a lot easier for her to fall into his story and grab ahold of his offer of Living Water. That intimacy made it real enough for her to want to share it with her village. Right away. She couldn’t hold it in. Things just began to happen.
That’s one cool thing about Jesus. When he speaks, things begin to happen.
I continued with a story later in the Bible. One that took place in a garden three days after Jesus was taken down from the cross. Mary Magdalene was at the tomb crying because it was empty. But through her tears, she hears her name. And in that moment, Mary knows it’s Jesus before she even turns around. She must have heard him say it many times before. She knows the sound of his voice saying her name.
I wanted these women to know that Jesus knows their name, too. I wanted them to know he knows everything about each of us, loves us anyway, and calls us by name. And to listen… because when he talks, things begin to happen.
I love to tell stories. But I learned that day they are hard to tell through a translator! So my prayer continues to be that they heard something that went home with them that day. If nothing else, before leaving, Pastor Herb asked each woman to tell us their name. He said, “We would like to hear your name.”
Each woman spoke their name out loud for us. Some said it shyly. Many said it with a smile.
I love it when someone remembers my name and calls me by it! I try to call the FaithWorks! children by their name. That’s one thing I try hard to do. I know it makes me feel special. And I want them to feel special too.
I don’t know when I’ll see these women again. And I know I won’t remember every name. But in watching this TED talk given by Bono, I trust their living situation will be better the next time I see them – if we keep doing what we’re doing. (He gives encouraging numbers about how we are changing our world for the better and the differences we can see by 2030!) And I am hoping that by hearing their names out loud on this day, and being reminded of how special each one of them is to Jesus, that they will draw closer to him.
And see things begin to happen.