I rest my arm on the back of couch cushions, surrounded by leaders from around the world, listening to their stories. I try to hold back the tears as joy does her work to push back heavy clouds.
“Ten, I have ten kids at home right now,” she says in broken English. Some are her own, most she has collected from the streets of sad circumstance in the Congo. She tells us about how she visits her niece when she is three and discovers she is still not walking. How the parents of this little one separate, go about their lives and leave her behind with aged grandparents.
She hears God say, “how will you live with yourself if you don’t do something for this little one.” So she picks her up, takes her home, raises her as her own. She smiles when she tells us this niece and her daughter are best friends, teenagers now walking in joyful destiny.
Across the room I listen to a church planter talk about how his church reaches urban youth in Chattanooga. How no one else in the city is doing anything to invest in masses of kids who live in abject poverty without hope of pulling out. They scale back from 100 kids to 60 because it’s just not safe to have that many kids with that many needs in one room.
He tears up, looks down and stops silent, tries to stop emotion rising like steam from a well of compassion inside. Says a staff member was jumped by five recently. Beat to an inch of his life in the parking lot of the church. The man has a wife and two small children and just loves Jesus, wants to share the Gospel with the lost. Those offenders didn’t want anything from him, just an opportunity to beat up someone.
Two pastors stand behind me, tell about how they invest in men to be leaders in their respective cities. They share about strategic plans to spread the Gospel message. Tell about how their plans grow like grapes hanging low on vines tended for years now.
And when we bow to pray and thank God for the food we are about to eat, the tears fall like faucet down my face in the closing of the eyes. The sky cracks open and rains hope over my weary heart. I’ve seen the ways God offers opportunity on a plate to those He trusts. Opportunity that looks risky and hard, uncertain and sacrificial, but transforms beauty multiplied with the single drop of yes.