Reflections on the residential 2

Kiwoko_gates_into_hosp Posted by Niall Manogue on Mon, 06 Sep 2010 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook


Day 2 of the residential is now over. What a day!

The young people continue to amaze me – but then doesn’t every person who has ever worked with young people in Africa say that? However I think I am in a very privileged few people who have had the honour of leading a youth retreat with teenagers from a different continent.

Just yesterday these young people seemed quiet, giving monosyllabic answers to the questions we posed – giving what we in Northern Ireland may call clichéd answers to life’s most difficult questions; but today things have changed. Let’s not forget however that when these young people give the clichéd answers, they are the very ones who defy the cliché. The words do not trip off the tongue easily – for they truly know the meaning of pain and rejection, so when they talk of love and acceptance from God, then we must do them the honour of believing them.

Today we began the session by doing a life river – basically a tool used to outline the most important events in an individual’s life – e.g.: born 1995, went to school 2000, made my first friend in 2001 etc… However the significant events in the lives of these young people were very different.
One after one got up to read off when parents, sisters, grandparents had died… This was a very hard session – one which left me feeling way out of my depth. However they were beginning to open up. They were beginning to share and to tell us something personal about themselves.

William (the chief nurse with us) reassured us that what we did was part of the healing process, a sentiment shared by Alison. In talking about the pain, it can begin to be dealt with. The session ended with us debating some statements: criminals belong in jail, murders deserve to be killed, you can love God and do what you like… We shared what we thought of these people, where they belonged – before we came back inside and drew some mini-me’s. We then stuck them to the wall, on a scale signifying how we thought we were accepted. Out of the 28 here, 26 said they felt accepted, 2 however did not feel this way.

We moved this afternoon into making Videos of a drama the young people made up themselves focusing on the theme of rejection and acceptance – we will watch these tomorrow, but the young people had fun making up lines, dressing up and filming their efforts which was so encouraging to see.

Tonight, though was special. We had a camp fire where people shared about how they felt the last couple of days had gone – after I did a short introduction, I remained silent for the next 2 hours as the young people took over. They shared how they felt rejected as various stages in their lives, and how they feel now. They shared how hard things can be, and also said what they got out of the sessions this last couple of days. How they will remember the label God has put on them as a child of God, and not the labels the world puts on them.
This was a deeply moving experience – one I will never forget because these young people remind me so much of the youth I work with back home – they look the same, they laugh the same, they get tired the same, they smile the same – yet they live a completely different life, with completely different reactions to hardship and pain. Their simple faith is astounding.

I am deeply humbled to be in their presence – pray with me that God pours out blessing on their young lives – that they know His touch, and He will strengthen and empower them and provide them with people in their lives who see past the labels, who love them because of who they really are – chosen special people, a royal priesthood of believers in the body of Christ. These are the ones Jesus came to set free, to give sight to, to liberate… These are the ones we need to pray for and need to respond to. These are the little children, the poor, the homeless, the orphans… look no further; but don’t get me wrong – they don’t need our help, we need theirs as it is not them who will be judged at the end of their young lives; it will be us for how we responded to their need.

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