Friday, July 2, 2010

Changing Lives

On Sunday, the PR team had the opportunity to go into Lome and attend a real African church service. Kossi is a 16-year-old boy who had a facial tumor that disfigured his nose and was slowly affecting his mouth and jaw, also. He came to Mercy Ships to get help. As any 16 year old would be, he didn’t want to hang out with his friends…much less see any girls. He quit school. Most likely he was depressed and wondering why God did this to him.

Kossi’s father is a very inspirational man. He is the preacher at their church and a leader in the community. Kossi stopped going to church when the tumor got worse. No fellowship with his father, or his church community. That can never be a good thing for a child—who, by nature, is desperate for guidance and support from peers and elders.

Today Kossi is tumor free and looking good!! He received his surgery before I got to the ship, but writer Joy Cleary (of New London, Texas!) covered Kossi’s story. Joy is known as his second mother. She even got up at the church service and said so!!

We arrived in force at the small gathering--Video cameras and still shot cameras in hand—I think we scared a few of these people to death!

When we arrived, there was a small circle of chairs and about 15 people in attendance. As the service progressed, more arrived and chairs were brought in for them. There was praying. There was preaching. And God knows there was singing.

A church member was gracious enough to translate for us. When Kossi’s father stood to preach, there was a vivacious spirit in his eyes. He thanked us many times for coming, and said that, because Mercy Ships was here, stories about Kossi would now float all over the world.

I think he said it jokingly, but it is absolutely true.

After the service we went into the small school room adjacent to the open area where we had church. Lewis asked Kossi a few questions. It was clear that Mercy Ships had given Kossi his life back. Also, the bond between Joy and Kossi was evident: His white, “second mother.” It was a wonderful opportunity to see first hand, the difference we are making.

When you live in a world of comfort, with more than enough money and friends and material things than you could ever need----the struggles of people living in Africa seem worlds away. It’s virtually impossible to relate—to imagine what on earth you could do to help. The phrase “make a difference” gets thrown around a lot. But how can you truly make a difference in someone’s life? Someone far away. A positive change. Restore their spirit. Repair a broken mind. Give a person self esteem. Let me tell you--Mercy Ships does this for thousands of West Africans every year. We just did for Kossi. And he is one of MANY:

To date, here are a few Togo numbers. (20 weeks of service) Mercy Ships has performed:
543 surgeries (tumor removal, cleft lip/palate, ortho, plastics, etc.)
1,637 eye surgeries
7,363 dental procedures

Changed Lives—each and every one :)

I am so lucky to be one small part of this mosaic of community members who come together to change people’s lives Every.Day.

Here are a few photos of Kossi’s Church Service.

Kossi :)

Kossi's father preaching.
Kossi with other kids--praying. thinking. praising God.
Interviewing Kossi.
I think he has a crush.
Very proud father.
Kossi with his second mother, Joy

Kossi before.

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