While I’ve traveled to Kenya and South Africa in the past, the impact of being in Africa is never lessened. After every trip, I’ve found myself processing cultural questions, mission questions, development questions, and personal questions. Each time, I am in a similar place as those former visits, wondering what to do with what I’d seen.
How do I engage this world in deeper ways? How do I empower people from our congregation to understand, to see the urgency, and ultimately to act?
But then I returned to our CarePoint in 2017. We found ourselves driving through the chaos of Addis Ababa and reuniting with the children at Abenezer CarePoint. We found ourselves eating food we weren’t used to, having conversations (once again) about the nature of poverty and how God’s mission is intended to intersect these places where darkness seems so evident. We found ourselves (at least those of us who had been to Ethiopia before) facing the same tensions but with a different perspective this year.
Because this year, the children were our friends and the CarePoint was our family.
The power of the work we’ve fallen in love with through Children’s HopeChest is built on relational commitments. It is built on deep and long-lasting investment rather than short projects more focused on my own personal experience. It is, at the simplest level–relationally super-charged.
Before we left (and in nearly every “partner visit” I’ve ever led), the inevitable questions someone from our North American context asks is, “Why go there? Why Africa? Why not just send the money instead of spending it on travel?” As one of our team members and I talked this year about these very questions, we framed our answers in terms of grandparents who live far away from their grandchildren. For us, these questions feel like saying, “Why go visit your grandkids? Why not just spend the money you’d use to travel to send them for a college fund?” The answer to this question, of course, is simple.
Because we’re family. Because we love each other.
We found our CarePoint family. We intensified relationships. We returned to a place that continues to build a deep connection to our souls and helps us keep moving in mission through the course of the rest of our years. We are partnered with Abenezer CarePoint to help provide hope, but of course we are finding that at many points in this journey we are the recipients of hope ourselves.