We gathered as close as we could to hear Pastor Geoffrey give the tour of Acres of Hope (AOH). To be able to see all the many things that have been accomplished just in the two years since we were here . . . was just astonishing.
(Check out pics on my Facebook page to see parts of AOH – Andrea Fare Smith).
It started with his saying, “You are standing under the roof that West built.” (So a huge shout out to the West folks who are willing to be a different kind of church so that we can be missional in that manner).
Then he led us through the parts and pieces of AOH, the piggery, the garden, Aquaponics, a new brick making system (they make their own bricks), goats, cattle, chickens . . . not to mention the five pod houses and all the sponsored children.
The conversation was great . . . but there was one moment when he began to beam and you couldn’t help but notice how much joy radiated from his eyes.
“One day one of the house moms was weeping. I found that to be very disturbing because it is important that the house moms are doing well so that they can care for the children. I wanted to make sure she was ok so I approached her to ask what was wrong and if there was anything I could help with.”
She replied, “Oh, these are tears of joy. Before being a part of Acres of Hope, I was lucky if I could provide my kids and myself with two meals a week. Normally it was just one. Many times I would not eat so that my kids could. And now – I can’t believe it – that I am here. Not only am I helping care for the other kids, but I am now able to provide for my own. I now get meals every day of the week and I’m not hungry anymore.”
When Pastor Geoffrey told us that – his face beamed! The small room we were standing in – the joy was contagious.
“You know – I knew that Acres of Hope would help the kids. But I had not thought about the impact it would have on the adults. Truly this is an act of God.”
The look on his face . . . that was something you can’t fake. It was absolute true joy. And not because of something “he” did . . . but instead because he saw God at work. The rest of us, however, could/can see how God is at work through him.
In a silence that was heavy with love and compassion we paused to pray for him . . . laying hands on him and praying that God would continue to use him, surrounding him with God’s presence, peace, perseverance, and strength.
As he knelt on the concrete floor with his knees on his sandals, we were all humbled.
Then and now, it felt and feels like we are the ones who should be kneeling. Our lives are so rich that we can’t begin to see how rich we truly are. Gives new meaning to Jesus’ words, “The last and least shall be first.”
Tomorrow we will try something new.
Eighty women are coming from at least ten churches for a first “Women’s Conference.”
I’ve always watched other “big time preachers” do things such as this and think, “Wow! How very cool!”
The longer the afternoon wore on, the less “cool” it began to be and the more gut wrenching.
One topic they wanted me to discuss is how can they balance caring for their family and familial responsibilities and still having time to nurture their relationship with God.
As we turned down the path to Acres of Hope this morning there was a lady hoeing her garden with an infant strapped to her back.
When the biggest stressor I’ve faced was balancing raising kids and being a wife/mother/pastor . . . I think any context I can understand pales in comparison.
Even if I have picked a few veggies from a garden (and maybe sweated a little) . . . we’ve always had enough food to eat.
If the children ran a fever, we had medicine to give them. A little girl today was running a 104-degree fever. Luckily Laura and Becky discovered it, and because of the girl being at AOH, she was cared for within a short time.
I’m realizing I am rather inadequate at leading this tomorrow . . . but I also know God uses all people in his/her context if the person is willing to be used for Love.
Even though we are on opposite sides of the world when you read this, I hope you’ll join me in spreading Love. Even our most minuscule efforts can be used for good.