Sharing His Love, Saving Lives & Expressing Our Gratitude
Gratitude reveals itself in many forms. The typical expression comes through simple words: "Thank you." We at Joyce Meyer Ministries are honored to hear many of those “thank you's” as God touches people's lives through the sharing of His Word. Gratitude flows from a changed life.
There are also many other faces of "Thank You," and a recent opportunity to share Christ and serve others in two African nations taught us much about the beauty of gratitude.
Our first stop was Madagascar, an island off the continent's southeast coast. Madagascar has an extremely large population of children living in the street. These children live in deplorable conditions. They beg for money, scavenge for food and fight for a spot to sleep on extremely dangerous streets. Each day is a struggle of survival for these kids and it is evident by the deep sorrow in their eyes.
We went out late one night and I met a family of six brothers and sisters. They were very guarded and hesitant to talk at first, but when we assured them that we didn't want anything from them, they began to open up. They showed me how they find a spot on the street to sleep each night, lay cardboard down for a bed and drape filthy plastic over the top like a tent to protect them from the weather.
They told me about the dangers they face each night. They take turns sleeping so they can watch each other's back. Tragically, many children are picked up right off the street and trafficked into even worse, unthinkable situations.
After some time, when we said good-bye there was an obvious expression of Thank You even though the words were never said—an unspoken gratitude for taking the time to listen, for showing interest in them in a world where most people consider them trash to be swept away.
Through our mission's arm, Hand of Hope, we have been feeding many of these children regularly but felt a strong burden to do more. So we’ve been working on a project to provide many of them with a safe place to sleep. We call it the Hope Center, and the time had come for the grand opening—a very exciting day for all.
When the children first entered the new building, there was a joyous eruption of laughter and cheering as they ran into the first place they could ever consider their own. It was a fantastic moment. Sometimes "Thank You" comes in ruckus shouts of pure joy.
After a day of games and merriment, the sun began to set and we laid out mats, pillows and blankets for some of the smallest children to rest. It was the first time these sweet little ones had ever laid their heads on a soft pillow or cuddled beneath a clean blanket. Almost immediately they slipped into a peaceful slumber.
This beautiful "Thank You" came in the rhythmic breathing of sleeping children—no fear of being forced from their spot or someone hurting them in the night. The subsequent expression was our own gratitude to an awesome God, overflowing in all of our hearts as we just watched them sleep. This was one of "Thank You's" quiet moments, soft yet powerful, and I will always carry it with me.
After Madagascar we traveled to the country of Namibia: from the jungle to the desert. Namibia is very different than Madagascar but also faces severe poverty, and many families simply cannot afford to feed their children. Hand of Hope has been feeding children here for some time and teaching them about the love of Jesus. Meeting them today we found some of the happiest children we have encountered anywhere.
Arriving at the little school where the children spend their day, we were greeted with smiles, waves, songs and many hugs. Each one was anxious to tell us about themselves and immediately took us into their little family. We parted that day with a new "Thank You": a huge group hug from dozens of children, the kind that pulls you to the ground in sheer delight.
The next morning we returned and the children told me, "Oh Ginger, we have missed you so much!" What better expression of love and gratitude could I ever need? I spoke with their teacher, Miss Erica, about the difference she sees in these kids from the time they come to the program hungry and frightened to today’s group of happy, loving children. What a difference a good meal and consistent expressions of love make!
Through tears she told me that there are no words to express her gratitude to you, the partners of Joyce Meyer Ministries, who provide the daily food and spiritual curriculum for these children. Perhaps some of the most rewarding "Thank You's" of all contain no words...they simply flow from the abundance of the heart.
Yes, "Thank you" comes in many forms—in words, smiles, laughter and tears. Each one enriches our lives just a little bit more. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for playing a vital role in each and every one.