Hello from Africa!

I am currently in Agenda, a country that has been devastated by war and by the AIDS epidemic. It’s hard to imagine the things that the people here have experienced. We are traveling with a team that includes Mark Brewer, Senior Pastor of Bel Air Presbyterian Church, and EnocK Di Assis, the Missions Pastor of Bel Air. All together, there are 11 people on the team. Today was our day to acclimate, but we visited with Tabitha Phillips, who is the Executive Director of Westside Pregnancy Center, and a kindred spirit. Tabitha and her team have been here in Agenda for nearly two weeks, and are ministering to young girls who have been raped or sold into slavery. Orphans are here by the thousands, and they often sell their bodies for as little as $1, just so they can afford to eat. Tabitha just happened to be here from Los Angeles at the same time we are here. It was so good to get her perspective.

We heard many heartbreaking stories today. It was almost too much to bear. And tomorrow, as we travel to Congo, we expect to hear of further tragedies. There are times, whether here in Africa or back in the U.S., when our heart would cry out and ask how could these things be so? Sometimes pain seems as though it is too excruciating, and human suffering has perhaps gone unnoticed by God. But, honestly, I think that all human suffering, though horrible at the time, has buried deep within it the potential for God’s grace to be revealed. No other place causes us to love Him more or turn to Him so eagerly as does the place of suffering. Jesus told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Here in Africa, there is evidence of that as we see people who have lost loved ones but are still smiling, still filled with hope. I don’t believe in a gospel that shares who Jesus is without demonstrating His love through action. And yet, sometimes all of our best efforts are still far too small to make a significant impact. That’s when the miracle of Christ’s love and grace bring healing and hope. He can do–through His people–what is otherwise impossible. I don’t know yet what the solutions are Agenda, Congo, or the streets of Los Angeles, but I do know that Christ’s love is sufficient. He will make a way for orphans, street Kids, and sang members. Let’s make ourselves available to help!