I honestly don’t know where to start writing about today! I guess the beginning would be good!! So I woke up at 6am and had a breakfast of bread, ham and cheese…OK that’s a bit boring, so fast forward to our first meeting of the day with the Compassion BF staff. We got dropped off at their offices and as we walked in were buzzin’ to hear the sound of proper African praise and worship! These people know how to celebrate Jesus!! I was privileged to lead the morning devotions for the staff and after that we had a tour of the offices and met with all the different departmental specialists. It was especially exciting to meet the ladies who handle the letters to and from our children. These are the ladies who ensure that we stay connected to our children. Praise God for them!
After this we went straight to the Paspanga region of Ouagadougou to visit our partner church and Compassion project BF201. Paspanga is regarded as one of the most deprived regions of the city, and the streets we drove down certainly support this theory. As we meandered through the dusty side streets past abandoned cars, random goats and the rubble of houses (that were destroyed by recent floods) we eventually arrived at the church. However, as we got out of our van we weren’t ready for what was waiting for us. These photos should say it all, but basically an army of tiny african children lined the entrance to the church wearing ‘welcome’ hats, while some had big white hands saying ‘Dear Hill City Church Pastors, Welcome at Paspanga Church, We are happy to meet you.’ There was also a huge welcome banner up over the entrance and Pastor Robert came to greet us with his wife and members of the Compassion committee. We went into a small room to greet each other, hear each others hearts and look at ways in which Hill City can serve the church and the Compassion project. It was an awesome meeting and hugely encouraging! It was so humbling to hear Pastor Robert – a seasoned, grace-filled and godly pastor expressing his excitement and sense of God’s timing in bringing us to Ouagadougou. There was an instant rapport and unity in the gospel that only the Holy Spirit can bring about. As we munched on peanuts and chatted as we toured the basic premises both me and Jim were blown away by the passion that these guys have to reach and rescue as many kids as possible. Their resources are very, very limited, but their hearts are huge. Basically we are more determined than ever to get children sponsored and help them with practical aid. What was especially poignant was seeing the watermarks on every wall caused by the devastating floods that came last September. The waterline was above my head, yet amazingly the tragedy gave the church unprecedented opportunity to serve the local community and gospel doors were flung wide open! God is so faithful – even in the midst of tragedy!!
After an incredibly tasty (and spicy) lunch at the church we set off to meet our sponsor children. I can’t remember being so nervous in a long, long time. However, as we pulled up in the street next to Karelle’s house she came running up to us to greet us all. What I REALLY LOVED was that she shook everyone’s hand respectfully, apart from Pastor Robert who she gave ‘safe’ to! I flippin’ love this pastor – he’s an inspiration!! We came to the street-side stall where Karelle’s mother sells beans and walked down a small alley into the grounds of their home – a very simple, yet cosy, single-story clay house. Both her parents were there to meet us, as were her brother, sister, cousin and numerous other curious kids. But the atmosphere was perfect and as we sat down to drink water outside the home, I was just overwhemed. I mean 12 months ago I didn’t even know Burkina Faso existed, and now I’m falling in love with the place! I’m leading a church that’s falling in love with place and I have the privilege to sponsor one of the most beautiful kids I’ve ever seen and now I’m being welcomed as an honoured guest to such gracious people?! It was just too much to take in! Karelle was overjoyed by her bag of presents (thanks Leigh!!) and she wouldn’t let go of her doll afterwards! I also bought her family a big sack of rice, some cooking oil and loads of soap, which was also gratefully received! As I chatted with Karelle’s parents it was great to hear their growing respect for the Compassion project. Her father confessed that when he first heard about it he thought it was a small, insignificant ministry. Now, however, he sees it in a completely different light and could not hide his delight! It’s clear that the way that Karelle has been blessed by the Compassion project at the church has made the family more open to the gospel. After our meeting Pastor Robert invited them to come to the church tomorrow night as me and James are preaching. Please pray that they come and that the gospel will take root in that family!!
I can honestly say that my respect for Compassion has also increased today! They are just an awesome organisation doing a fantastic job in places that so desperately need Jesus! I want to assure all my Hill City family that your sponsorship money is in good hands and is being invested well into the lives of precious kids. Your kids love you. On Thursday we get to hang out with them all day and I’m sure the stories and the photos from that day will more than confirm that!
Anyway, following this incredibly emotional visit we returned to the hotel for a short break before returning to Paspanga this evening to minister to an assembly of local children’s workers and Sunday School teachers. The evening started with a time of African worship – which I was loving!! However, as it was all in French I was just grateful for the gift of tongues!! I really do hope God lets the Africans lead worship in heaven! After the worship time James preached a great message on raising children to both love and fear God, and I followed up with a message on the importance of serving children in the Name of Jesus. After a time of questions and a final song we were dropped back to our hotel and trust me – we were ready for some rest!
What a day!
What a privilege to be involved with this church and these precious kids!!
Thank you Jesus!!!