Confident Children out of Conflict (CCC) is the organization that provides a comfortable place for me to eat, sleep, and access the internet. Aside from taking care of me, CCC has a much more challenging and important task of providing for female street children and orphans. Recently, I stopped past CCC’s newly constructed center to say hello to the girls and see the center’s progress. When I walked into the center, the girls saw me, yelled “uncle”, and greeted me with a plethora of hugs. I must say the girls truly know how to make a person feel received.
I talked with them, and they showed me some of the projects they worked on that day. Each one showed me the miniature tukuls (traditional huts made with mud walls and straw roofs. I have a picture of one of the homepage of this blog) they constructed alongside miniature fences and storage huts to keep grain. Then they played together. I observed them smile and laugh as each one responded to the personalities of the other. As I watched them, I remembered how good it is to spend time with peers for no other reason than to enjoy their company.
Life in South Sudan is in many ways similar to life as I remember it in DC. Networking is a constant necessity, and I’m here to accomplish a specific task. In such an environment it becomes easy to view people as a means to an end. People become those who help us achieve goals – land the next job, achieve the next promotion, complete our projects, or become acquainted with a higher social echelon. Similarly, as a minister, it becomes easy to view people primarily as those we serve.
Spending time with the girls reminded me that all the aforementioned views are problematic. When God created, the only thing wrong with creation was that the first person was alone. God said it was “not good”. If we move past all the obvious necessities of romance and procreation, it can be understood that “aloneness” was problematic because there no one with whom to share life experiences. The first person didn’t need another person because of a lack of food or housing, or even to help him till the ground. God had already created plants and animals and gave the first human a brain and to take care of those needs. After all the necessities for physical life were given, another person was added simply to share in the journey.
My church choir used to sing a song with the lyrics, “I need you, you need me, we’re all apart of God’s body”. I would resist singing along with the choir as they sang this song because I adored another song with the lyrics, “As long as I’ve got King Jesus, I don’t need nobody else”. I couldn’t balance the lyrics of these two songs, so I loved the later and disregarded the former. I remember talking to my mother about it, and she replied, “That’s because you haven’t lost someone close to you.”
In hindsight, I suppose both songs have their place. When Christ calls we follow the call to the extent of hating mother and father, brother and sister, wife or husband. Thus, we find ourselves alone. But God’s call to Christianity isn’t a call away from genuine human interaction; in fact it’s quite the opposite. God always provides people to be with us for no other reason than to travel the journey alongside us. Christ called 70 disciples away from their homes and families, but gave each one a companion, sending them out, two-by-two.
The girls at the center have left their families. Many of the habits and viewpoints carried by their families are prohibited at the center. Still, God has provided them with others, not to help them eat, sleep, or accomplish goals but, to share in their journeys. Of course, through the sharing of journeys, burdens are lightened and goals are accomplished, but it is a by-product of relationships and not the purpose. I fear that many, including myself, haven’t fully grasped the understanding that people are primarily those with whom we share our lives and not those whom we serve or have serve us.
When God came into the world as Christ, God came not so that we could accomplish goals, become political leaders (as many expected), or even to institute a new plan to serve people. These may be by-products, but the purpose of God’s coming was to enable us to have a deep and lasting relationship with God, so that we could share in God’s journey and have God share in ours. Christ taught his disciples that it was by the measure of their sharing – otherwise stated, the measure of their love – that people would recognize them as his disciples (John 13:35). I recognized Christ in the interactions of the girls from CCC, and through the sharing of their lives with me, they taught me something about my Savior.
Praise God for them!