Last week the Allen family went to Gainesville to see the World Vision Experience. Trinity UMC is hosting this museum quality exhibit that takes you through the life of four children living in Africa. These stories are real, the children are real, and the issues they face are very real. But the biggest issue they each face is the danger of AIDS.
According to the United Nations, 22.5 million Africans live with HIV and 90% of all children that are HIV positive live in Africa. The four children whose stories are told, Babirye, Mathabo, Kombo, and Emmanuel, all face an uncertain future. Their very survival is anything but guaranteed.
We followed the story of Babirye, a young girl whose mother was infected with HIV. We were given headphones to listen to Babirye's story as we walked though the exhibit and saw pictures of Babirye and her sister, their dirt-floored home, their church, and their village. We heard the fear in Babirye's voice as she talked about the emotions she endured when she thought of losing her mother to this disease. We listened as Babirye shared her predictions of what her future might look like. We cried as she described how lost, alone, and scared she felt.
I was instantly reminded of Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Babirye needed rest. She needed someone, some place, where she could turn for comfort, reassurance, mercy, and peace.
At the end of the exhibit, you find yourself in a chapel, similar to one you would find in Africa. There you are encouraged to pray for the child whose story you just experienced. They even provide paper and pencil for you to write a prayer and pin it to their prayer wall, if you desire. Also in this area there are packets of information about children in Africa that you can sponsor. While we did not allow Parker to listen to the Babirye's story, he was so moved by the pictures that he asked if we could sponsor a child. He and Wesley picked a little boy from Malawi named Precious, that was born one day before Wesley. If you adopt a child you are then given the opportunity to write them a letter. Parker jumped at the opportunity and we sat down and wrote to Precious.
I would encourage each of you to take the time and go see this exhibit. To experience for yourself what life is like for these young children. It runs through Friday, October 14th and is free. I would also encourage you to take some time today and thank God for the blessings in your life, for the interest God takes in your life, and for ways you can use your life to impact others for God. We do serve a God of love and for that we can all be very thankful.
Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!