Guest Blogger: Victoria Vazquez, Age 18 years
What would happen if, as Christians, we all got up and made disciples of all nations? What would happen if we all went and cared for the least of these? What if we fed orphans and gave them homes? If each one of us who claim to be Christians proceeded to go, as we are called, then there wouldn't be thousands of fatherless, starving children... The bible tells us to go and make disciples of all nations. It tells us to care for the widows, orphans, and the least of these. It tells EVERYONE to go and do this.
I have always lived in America with a mindset that I was not American. I did not believe myself to belong to a culture that always wanted more. I did not want to belong to a culture that had a passion for comfort. My heart would break as I was reminded of the starving children in the world and my overflowing table. I would be reminded of the fatherless children and the way I many times took my own father for granted... So now I am in Ghana and I feel more American than ever before because I feel as if I am not doing enough to share the love of Christ.
I have been pushed beyond my borders in my fears, hopes, failures, and everything one can think of. I have cried and wept for a hug from home thinking I could not take on anymore. I have curled up in the arms of my Heavenly Father countless times seeking a comfort and peace that only He could provide. But there are others who die for professing the Gospel... There are others who are persecuted, killed, tortured... I want to do more, but honestly I do not believe I can take on anymore. In reality, I could not even take on this trip in itself. God has shown me that I am no longer in control, but have to render control to Him, the Great I Am; and honestly, I would have it no other way.
A few weeks ago, the older Beebe boys and I stayed at Nyame Dua, an orphanage in a rural village. We were able to love on the children there and play with them. It was a blessing to be the hands and feet of Jesus there. The night we stayed there the power went out. I recall already being a little freaked out to sleep in a room by myself with the Muslim prayer call going off right outside my window, so this power outage was NOT in my plans. We sat outside in the dark night with the kids and watched the bright lightening in the sky. This was the same beautiful sky in America. God is the same there as He is here. That night I rested peacefully knowing that no matter what was to come the same God who had taken care of me all my life would continue to take care of me in Ghana.
The next day was one of tremendous humility and heartbreak. We were able to visit a little girl named Victoria who has a powerful story. Let me tell you about Victoria...
Victoria's grandmother was carrying baby Victoria when she fell into the sewage-filled gutter. The grandmother continued to have problems after the fall, so it was assumed that little Victoria was a witch who had caused this turmoil. Victoria was not fed by her mother and grandmother; they would simply send her out to collect water sachets to sell and feed them. While Victoria was out collecting and doing this gruesome work, she would beg for food to survive. Victoria has since then been sponsored and now attends school. Victoria has hope now!
When we went to visit Victoria, we asked to see her school. As we walked through the village to see her school, she was sneered at. Many did not believe someone as poor as her deserved to even walk with "Obruni's", white people. As she was sneered and jested, the little girl did not say a word; she took the abuse silently. This little girl has a tremendous story of despair yet full of hope... A young girl with the same name as I, a totally different story, but loved and cherished by the same Almighty God!!!!
After returning to Nyame Dua, we asked a beautiful thirteen year old, named Sophia, if she would share her story. She responded with silent tears. She could not even fathom to put her story to words because there was so much pain from her past. She is only thirteen years old... I do not know her story, but I can see the pain and hurt that still haunt her. This young girl is now sponsored and attends school! During my stay at Nyame Dua, I was able to go and see the classroom where my young friend learns. I was also able to help her with her schooling. Her passion to learn is extraordinary.
Every month, we celebrate the birthdays of the children at the orphanages GMI and Nyame Dua. Something so simple, but yet it makes the kids feel so special. This past Saturday we were able to take the younger kids to the beach for this special celebration. The beach did not have the expected clean, white sand, but on the contrary, it had trash filled waters and a seaweed, trash covered sand. Personally I found it very gross, but yet these children were having a blast! So many times I take that cleanliness for granted, yet these children were thankful for the opportunity to simply swim. WOW!
As we were at the beach, I watched young Cynthia (13 years old) act as a mother to this little girl. She didn't really know the little girl on her back, but all she knew was that she was crying and needed to be held. When little Sarah fell asleep in Cynthia's arms, Cynthia backed her and that was that. Cynthia is a skinny, 13 year old and to carry a kid on her back for a few hours was extraordinary. I pictured my 13 year old sister back home and realized culture hadn't made her step up like that. The perspective and contrasting pictures were something that made me desire a deeper understanding of Ghanaian culture.
After the beach, we returned to GMI and simply spent time with the kids. One boy was glued to me for most of the afternoon. This little boy was named Emmanuel. He wrote me a letter and simply talked to me. Emmanuel was used to stir something in my heart that I simply cannot explain. So many kids are like him, tender, sweet, and loving, yet they have no family. How much would it take for us, "The Church", to step up and give a family to these kids? Why can't we depend on God and go for it? I pray that we can not only continue to sponsor children, like my young friend Emmanuel, with food and schooling, but that we can step up and offer a family to them.
Being in Ghana has changed my perspective on the world. It is no longer my safe zone to step up only when I am convenienced by it; it is my mission field. And what is my mission? To love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, and soul...and then to love my neighbor as myself. We are called to care for the widows, orphans, and least of these. We are called to go and do something about the brokenness in the world. We are called to care for these children like Emmanuel, Cynthia, Sophia, and Victoria. Followers of Christ, it's time to step up. Let's do something.
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love, and of self-discipline." -2 Timothy 1:7
"Jesus looked at him and loved him. 'One thing you lack,' he said, 'Go sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." -Mark 10:25