Reflections on the residential 3

Kiwoko_gates_into_hosp Posted by Niall Manogue on Wed, 08 Sep 2010 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook


Day 3 and the residential is now over. I am currently sitting in Alisons house, with the team next door chatting excitedly about the safari we are about to embark upon tomorrow.
Seems a world away from what we have been doing these last few days. We finished both youth and children’s programmes today, and I think the whole team is emotionally drained. I certainly am…

In our residential we finished our sessions by affirming the acceptance theme as we encouraged the young people into prayer triplets to pray for each other. We then asked them each to write a prayer for themselves which we took in and placed in front of a contract which was pinned to the wall. The contract said ‘As the brothers and sisters of the Afaayo family, we promise to love, accept and pray for each other from this day on’ After signing this, the young people then took a random prayer – and undertook to pray for that person, using their own prayer points. As a family, we feel each others pain, we laugh when we share a joke, we rejoice in each others success. The Afaayo family is no different. To most of these young people, this is the only family they have.

Personally I found the whole experience exceptionally rewarding, challenging and emotionally draining. The verses I kept receiving over and over again were from Romans 8,where Paul writes that NOTHING will separate us from Gods love, neither life nor death, past or the future, angels or demons – Nothing can separate us from the love God has for us in Christ Jesus. And the other verse is 1 Peter 2: Come to Christ, He is the living stone that people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honoured. And now YOU are living stones that are being used to build a spiritual house. (and verse 9) You are Gods chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests.

We put a powerpoint together with their pictures on it, and these verses on it to really affirm the theme of acceptance and belonging. We finished up with an evaluation of the weekend, where the young people identified showers, the chairs even the tiled floor as a highlight. They couldn’t thank us enough – however Glory goes to God for stepping in and changing our planned programme to the one we did, and in reality the young people were the real reason the weekend was so good.

Such a wonderful group of young people I have never met. They inspired me, humbled me and completely amazed me by their attitude, their thankfulness and their attitude. They have some of the worst lives imaginable – yet not once did I hear them grumble.

This retreat took them away from their everyday lives – from the rejection they face in their communities, from the hard expectations they face from unsympathetic family members, from the reality of living with the most unjust set of circumstances I have seen. Young people living with a condition not of their making, in a culture which rejects them and stigmatises them. It is therefore vital that this keeps going. These young people deserve to know the blessing of a hot shower, a comfy bed, 2 good meals every day.

The passage of Luke 11 comes to mind, where Jesus says – which of you would give your child a scorpion when they ask for a loaf of bread – how much more will your Father in heaven answer you when you ask… These young children are in the body of Christ – they are our children because they have no parents, and they are asking for a loaf of bread… What is our response?

I am struck that when Jesus talks of the poor in the Gospels, it is surely these little ones he is talking about. These are the ones in Matthew 25 Jesus means when he says, when I was hungry, thirsty, naked… It’s not rocket science – today we can be the answers to their prayers – not in a conceited way, but by praying for them, and by giving. £20 a month for example ensures they get transport to their monthly HIV clinic – where they meet the very young people (their new family) they have just been with this retreat. Incidently this £20 has just been cut by the funder of the clinic – why? I haven’t a clue, but I do know that £20 a month would ensure this fledgling family continues to deepen in relationship. £20 for 20 young people…

Finally keep praying with me the simple prayer of blessing upon these young lives – that the promise contained in 1 Peter 2: 9 would come true for them – that they would feel they are special –chosen and part of the royal priesthood of believers.
This is our prayer – please make it yours too.

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