I love to see a changed life.
There is nothing like a good transformation to inspire a soul.
And, of course, I love a good story. I love to hear people tell their stories and if it’s a transformation story – all the better!
So here it is : a powerful story of a changed life:
Welcome! Bienvenue! Quabo! Three languages, one word. Also the name of an amazing young man in Benin. He teased us for days with his name. We thought he didn’t understand English and he knew we didn’t understand Fon or French. We frequently saw Welcome hanging with the older boys as they practiced their soccer skills. We also saw him helping the little boys and speaking encouragement to the days’ cook. He was honestly sincere and respectful of each person. Finally, we had the chance to sit down in the shade and ask Welcome his story.
Welcome was from a poor family in the village. His mother and father worked very hard and barely made ends’ meet. They were gone more than they were home and Welcome and his siblings were left to figure life out on their own. His older siblings had become involved with drugs and alcohol, some were married, some had children, but none were happy. Welcome is an observer by nature, he saw all of this and he learned a lot from his siblings. He also saw his friends from Exodus House who had TRUE joy. Over 100 of them shared one Mama who was busy yet somehow still present and they shared a Papa God who loved them relentlessly and gave them wisdom beyond their years to make healthy decisions and live purposefully.
This true joy is what Welcome wanted more than anything! He asked Mama if he could be one of her children and her response was “You already are.” He came to Exodus House daily to learn from Mama and the children. He began attending school and church services, taking on regular responsibilities, and building relationships with the rest of Mama’s kids. He is a part of the family. There is nothing Welcome has that he does not share with his new family and vice versa. When we were sitting with him, he asked “Do you see the chickens here?” Of course we did, there were plenty pecking around our feet and crowing in the wee hours of the morning. “I bought those for Mama and the children. My brother sent me money for a new phone and I knew they needed food more than I needed the phone, so I bought chicks and surprised the children.” He had the biggest grin on his face! Between laughs and stories he would pull out his cell phone with a huge crack on the small screen, send a text or show us a photo of his nieces and nephews, then carefully re-tape the battery in place and put it back in his pocket.
Welcome had found true joy in becoming family, loving Jesus and now in giving this gift.
God has blessed Welcome. He is studying for the National Exam and plans to go to University next fall. He has bright hopes of coming back to his village and changing the world for one kid after another. “They are just like me,” he told us. “They feel lost but I know God sees them.”