This is a guest post from CRF President Milton Jones’ blog, Through Orange Colored Glasses.
Sacrifice. It means that you give up something. But it means that you give up something that you miss. If I don’t really suffer a loss–it may be a gift, but it isn’t necessarily a sacrifice. Emmanuel makes sacrifices.
If you have ever heard me talk much in the past couple of years or read my writings, you have heard of Emmanuel. I first met him in Kisumu after he walked two days to see me without knowing whether he would even get to talk to me. He told me that he was a teacher living on a very small pension. He told me that he was a farmer in a famine (the first I had heard of what became the historic famine of the Horn of Africa). Then he told me that he had 126 AIDS orphans on his farm. It was true. But not for long. He later had 319. Now he has over 400. And he has a second place now where he takes care of another 300 war orphans. He has the right name—God with us.
One of the greatest regrets of my life was not helping him on his initial visit. He merely thanked me and gave my country and me a prayer of blessing. But things change. You can always repent. And people who have heard the story of Emmanuel have been moved to help his children.
When I first went to his farm, I realized that they didn’t have hardly any food. They didn’t have water. They didn’t have electricity. The children were sleeping in the open on the ground. They had a makeshift school. Their clothes were tattered at best. And there were children everywhere.
Emmanuel can truly leave no child behind. If an orphan is abandoned or without hope, Emmanuel lets him come to his farm. There is not enough, but shared food and the spirit of Christ somehow are better than loneliness and despair. And people have responded to the story. They needed food, and you have sent food. They had no water, but you drilled a well. They had no place to sleep, but you gave them dorms and mattresses. They had no place to learn, but you gave them classrooms. And on and on it goes. It sounds like Matthew 25 to me. As you have done to the least of these, you have done to me. And it is a little bit easier to make the connection when his name is Emmanuel, isn’t it?
But Emmanuel is sick. He has diabetes. He has lost probably 50 pounds since I saw him six months ago. I couldn’t figure out what was happening. Then I realized that there was still such a shortage of food since he was bringing in all these famine victims, and Emmanuel was giving up his medicine and his own food to help give more food to the children. That’s sacrifice. I don’t know how to describe someone with that kind of passion for children. He wears the right name, doesn’t he?
I made a covenant with Emmanuel. I told him that I would make sure that he got some more funding for his personal medicine and food if he would eat his food and take his prescriptions. I told him that we needed him alive. I told him to train his 16 personal children to help him with the load—they are an army of teachers. I told him that we would try to help get more food and lodging there.
It seems to me that we really needed him to not make such sacrifices. It seems that his sacrifices were too much for the common good. But then again, I don’t often comprehend sacrifices and why they are needed if not essential. I pondered the cross. Emmanuel.