This post is written by Mary Hopkins, a volunteer for the VisionTrust Global Health – Behavioral Health Team.
After months of phone meetings, I saw my teammate Denise for the first time at the C gate in Chicago, from where we would fly to Brussels together. From Brussels to Liberia, where we would see the faces of the teachers and pastors whose courage is humbling and for whom we’d prayed in earnest the past several months. Being a volunteer is a tricky business when you want to make a significant contribution. You ask the Lord what He’s asking you to do, only to discover you won’t do anything; He will do it all.
Our agenda was set: Day1 would have Denise and me previewing our teaching materials for a small group of community leaders to screen for relevance and relatability. Just one long car ride on as bumpy a road as can be and we would share what God laid on our hearts. You can’t help but muse to yourself while trying not to crack your head on the window, how this journey resembles a picture of life — avoiding the potholes, trying to retain energy while taking it all in, in the hope of speaking appropriately with your audience. Our preview outlined how children that undergo trauma have additional barriers to learning and connecting, and was warmly received despite our repeated questions. “Does it make sense? Are the words appropriate?” Over and over we were told, “Thank you for coming and it does.”
We were honored to spend Day 2 with 17 teachers and pastors revealing the hopeful message that though war, illness, and death have devastating effects on a child’s heart and mind, God has designed a pathway through which they can be the conduit for healing, no matter the age or extent of trauma. Days 3 and 4 were spent with 32 more individuals, with whom we shared the same principles on a more in-depth level with the addition of material on leading adolescents. As our time came to a close with prayer, worship, and breaking bread, we were overwhelmed when the time came to testify as to what the Lord had revealed to their hearts. Over and over again we heard specific examples of a struggle or long-standing habit which had been demystified through the teaching Denise and I shared. We just stood there, amazed, listening to God’s hopeful story relayed again and again.
Please join us in praying that we can honor their repeated request for our team to return to Liberia again to offer this teaching alongside other complementary material, and fulfill their request to “not forget us” as we hold them up regularly before the Lord.