Eyes of Your Hearts

"May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones..." Eph 1:18

 I love this line of scripture in Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Paul speaks to the Ephesians about unifying belief and behavior when they are torn apart in this broken world of sin. He says to have faith we must look through the "eyes of our hearts." To accept what seems unacceptable and in time to forgive what is unforgivable we must pray for enlightenment that can only come from Him.

 Paul's words in the Message are this: "I ask - ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory - to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for Christians, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him - endless energy, boundless strength!" Wow! How beautiful. That pretty much sums it up. If we as Christians could "grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life" and basically just trust him what a difference it would make.

 I witnessed this faith lived out in the people at the Faith Alive and Anawim communities in Nigeria. As I departed on my first mission trip to Faith Alive, I planned to bring the Nigerian people a strong hope for the future. What actually happened was the Nigerian people instilled me with much hope from observing how they lived their lives.  I watched them rise very early in the morning every day happy to greet that day. They knew their purpose. They set about doing the work that they felt was God's work. At Faith Alive it was all about serving God and serving others. This was true at the Anawim Home too. There were people there to serve us - any missionaries that were there. One of the first things that was done everyday was to retrieve the clean water from the well. They had to take a truck down to the only working well and fill up big plastic garbage cans for each room of the guesthouse to have where most of us stayed. This has since been improved thanks to the Nativity Nigeria Advent Water Project. Three large hot meals were served to us everyday. They worked hard for the meals to be something that we would find appealing as Americans. I will never forget the cook whose name was Babba. He was an elderly man who had served as Faith Alive's cook since it started and also had been a cook since he was a young man. He was a sweet man always smiling asking if everything was okay. Most people there have malaria. One day he was sick with malaria symptoms. He did not stop working. He said having malaria is normal here. You just keep going. In between cooking and serving the meals for a few days he would lie down on the sofa. He did not make a fuss. Something about this touched me. I often make a fuss when I am sick. I can be quite noisy! When I am nauseous you know it! They made sure we were comfortable giving us all the bottled water we needed and offering us rides to the American style drug store for any medicines or snacks we needed. We were taken to church on Sundays by Goddy our faithful driver. They also offered to wash our clothes and towels. We declined this offer. They would have had to do this by hand. Electricity service was sporadic. They kept asking us if WE were all right! We were so humbled! They did all this while working at the hospital and taking care of so many sick patients. The important thing is that they did it joyously! Their belief and behavior were unified! They grasped the "glorious"life and they obviously had "boundless strength!"

There in this far off place from my home in the world, with no clean water and hardly any electricity (some living in mud huts) - extreme poverty that I could go on and on about here -  how can I explain to you how I felt so close to God? I did not see this place as God forsaken as some did. As I stated in my previous post, I did feel like my eyes had seen something holy. I saw so much more than can be explained in a few posts. I do not have any answers for why some people suffer more than others. But I do feel changed somehow for what I saw. It did feel like I was seeing things through the "eyes of my heart." Although my Nigerian friends lives were hard, most of them were very poor, sick and even HIV patients, they were able to grasp the "glorious" in their lives. It is amazing how even during times of great struggling and suffering, people of faith continue to survive, grow and even thrive. What I was able to witness were people living out their faith and defying darkness, being a beacon of light and source of hope not only for the visiting missionaries - but what I want to share here -  for all the world.

Top photo: Babba, the cook at Faith Alive guesthouse
Bottom photo: the sitting room at Faith Alive guesthouse