I couldn't say no. I couldn't keep walking and pretending I didn't see them.
I wasn't even sure I really wanted to share this with you all. This was something I wrote in my journal as I was trying to process with the Lord some things that I had seen that really broke my heart. Truth is, I am going to see a lot of amazing things this year. The Lord is going to do (He already has) great and beautiful things. But I'm also going to see a lot of really hard things, and I can't sit here and just share with you all the easy things.
Sometimes the Lord has to reveal the hard things in order for us to come to real brokenness and dependence on Him.
We went to the African Arts market in Accra, Ghana today. We also stopped by a westernized mall. The coffee was great, but other than that I don't really miss America that much to enjoy a westernized mall in Africa. We walked through this area between the mall and market that had many women and children begging.
I saw them tapping on windows of 'nice' cars and pulling on the clothes of those walking by.
The wind was knocked out of my chest and I felt as if I had been slam punched in the gut. Many of them would grab our arms as we walked by. Tightly grasping us, they would ask for food or money.
"Please, I am begging you. Something small. Please please."
My head was spinning as I felt heavy pieces of my heart fall apart and hit the ground. It was as if the world had stopped around me and all I could focus on was the deep brown eyes of the little boy who clung to my arm. All I could focus on were the children running up to our team as we uncomfortably told them no. I saw the excitement in their eyes as they saw our group of white girls, hoping for something. But it wasn't just food or money they were eager for. I saw the earnestness of wanting to be seen and known and the deep desire to be loved.Tears welled up in my eyes.
I stood there for what seemed like an eternity, looking into his eyes, unsure of what to do. He kept asking for something, never letting go of my arm. My teammate Hannah came to my side and helped me escape the uncomfortableness of the moment. When I could breathe and feel my legs again, I lost it. Hannah saw the brokenness in my eyes and held me close. I was screaming on the inside.
I realize it could have been a total scam. I've read where kidnappers will use this tactic to lure people into being trafficked. I'm well aware that because I am white and am more of a target and looked at as one with money. I've seen poverty before. I've seen people in rags and covered in flies. It's sad. Gut wrenching even. But I have never been quite as undone as I was today. I felt ridiculous for the way I was reacting. But if I am being completely honest, I was confused and upset with the Lord. I was suddenly aware of the color of my skin. Not the color literally, but everything that it says about me. I'm American. I grew up in a fairly nice neighborhood and had whatever I needed and much much more.
Why? Why was I safe but the boy that left scratch marks on my arm was not?
Our team had to walk back through the line of beggars to get on our trotro to head home and I was already dreading it.
I couldn't ignore the sour pain in my stomach, no matter how hard I tried.
I couldn't say no. I couldn't keep walking and pretending I didn't see them. I couldn't pretend that my heart wasn't shred into a million pieces.I couldn't just walk on by as if everything was okay.
Because it wasn't.
Madessah didn't have to say anything. I knew she longed to be known and seen too.
So I stopped. And I saw her. Her lips were cracked and her eyes looked tired. She had a wrap around her head and face that said the was Muslim. She was beautiful, and her smile stretched from one dimple to the next. As I kneeled down beside her, her son Abraham eagerly came up to join us.
I didn't give her money or the bracelet on my arm. I just looked her in the eyes and gave her all that I knew to give. She spoke little English, but she listened intently as I introduced myself. My team and I prayed for her and her son. And then we did what was harder than I expected. We said goodbye to Madessah and walked away.
This month the Lord has really put Psalm 139 on my heart as I have been struggling with the desire to be known. Because I may be quieter than others and not the first person to speak up, I struggle with feeling unnoticed. I realize this has been something that I have struggled with for a long time. I can seek to be known from my team, friends, family, or relationships, but I will never be known the way I was designed to be known by any human heart. I have even been fighting to know myself. The only one who knows my heart is the one who created it. He sees me and He knows me. He knit me and formed me so intricately in my mother's womb. He knows when I sit and when I rise. He knows what I will say and things I won't say. He knows everything about me. And His thoughts about me are precious.
Madessah didn't have to say anything. I knew she longed to be known and seen too. She longed to be loved for all that she is and isn't. She was tired from seeking to be known from others and never really being satisfied. I pray that she didn't see our team today, but that she saw the Father and the way He loves her. The way that He sees Her. The way that He knows her and the unimaginable pain she has had to go through. I pray for just a moment she felt completely known, and completely loved. Part of brokenness is giving it back to the Lord and allowing Him to comfort. So I trust Madessah and Abraham to the Lord. He loves them far more than I ever could.
Later we found out from our ministry host that many of the women and children in that area are trafficked from Niger. I know it is hard to imagine such pain and brokenness in the world without seeing it yourself, but unfortunately it does exist. Would you please take a few minutes and join me in praying against the enemy and his evil schemes of human trafficking? We will be going into Asia next month and will begin seeing more and more of this and the oppression that comes with that.
Even though there is evil in the world, the Lord is still faithful and His love wins every time. While we were at the African markets, a few of my team members were able to share the gospel with a few shop owners. They gave their lives to the Lord and one of the ladies was healed! A few of our teammates were able to visit them before we left Ghana and they were excitedly telling them how they were going to be missionaries in their own markets and had started small Bible study! GOD IS GOOD Y'ALL!!