My Own Little White World – Part 3

KayK2

My dear friends Lindsey and Kay-K.

Even though people are divided on a lot these days, I think most will agree that there is something very wrong with our world. I went to a teach-in recently at Calvin College, and one of the speakers put it well by saying that sin is a great equalizer. To be honest, I need a break from it all. Today, I want to talk about what’s right in our world.

To start, let’s go back to around 2006/2007 (I’m so bad at timelines). Around this time, I started volunteering for the new youth group at church. A family needed a ride to youth group and the kid’s program on Wednesday nights, and I volunteered. As I got to know the kids, I found out that their family was originally from Sierra Leone and that they came to the United States as refugees. Spending time in their home – mostly because they were never ready to go when I got there 🙂 – gave me a glimpse into their family. I learned that their mom, my friend Watta, spoke Mende as her first language. I learned that a lot of their family was Muslim or had a Muslim influence on their beliefs. I learned I could often expect to find the rice cooker going and greens cooking on the stove. I learned about the tragic conflict in Sierra Leone that started in 1991. And, it was in this home that God taught me to listen carefully and love deeply.

Gradually, the Kellahs welcomed me into their family. I started hanging out at their house outside of youth group, taking the kids to the school playground to play basketball and volleyball, and helping them with their homework.

Graduation

The Kellah family at the college graduation for me and my friends Don and Melissa…not sure why I was looking away from the camera. Lol!

I have so many stories to tell. Like when Watta brought me to a bridal shower for someone I’d never met and had me navigate and wrap the gift in the car on the way (I’m terrible at both directions and gift wrapping). Or, Salia’s graduation party where I first saw a Sierra Leonean dance, ate fish heads, was called an African queen, and danced the night away. Keep in mind that I’m not the most coordinated person, so dancing the night away mostly meant tripping over my feet. 🙂 Kadiatu (Kay-K) and her cousin Mamie trying to teach me how to double dutch and the boys trying to no avail to teach me Soulja Boy. Weima taking the scarf off her neck and putting it around mine when I told her it was pretty.

Essa

Essa and I at a youth group camping trip.

Along with the laughs, there were some serious moments mixed in. There were conversations about our eternal hope when a man was shot just down the road. There was deep mourning when a friend of Essa’s passed away. There were complications and long waits when family members were trying to move to the area from Sierra Leone. There were the texts from Kay-K about her faith when she was at college. Then, there were the baptisms. I sobbed tears of joy for each one.

 

It was right, good, and beautiful for the Kellahs and their extended family to welcome me so fully. They have been there for me ever since. I’m sure I messed up sometimes, but I praise God for this family and their love and patience.

This is just one example of something that’s right in the world. God is at work and has been at work. Here are some other things I’ve seen that are right:

  • White Christians searching all over town and the internet to get Bibles in their friends’ first language.
  • A Filipino bishop inspiring Filipino youth (and me) to share Jesus in other cultural contexts.
  • A white grandpa holding his black grandson without claiming he doesn’t see his skin color, but instead seeing God’s beauty in it.
  • Ate Honey and my dear friends from Dagupan sending me words of encouragement from the other side of the world years after we’ve seen each other.
  • A Christian sister from Malaysia buying me a real dinner at a conference because she’d only seen me eat snacks in the volunteer lounge all week.
AteHoney

Me, Ate Honey (we stayed with her family when we visited churches in the Philippines), and Beth

ThePI

The youth group from Hope Dagupan in the Philippines.

ESL

A class picture from ESL at our church.

I could go on, and I praise God for that. While unity might be rare, it exists by the power of the Holy Spirit and the precious blood of Jesus. To Him alone be the glory.

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