Two days ago, I returned from my fourth trip to Congo to spend time with the incredible and humble ministry, Mwana Villages. Among many other purposes for this trip, what will stick with me about this particular trip is that I got to take a front row seat to one of the biggest days in any family’s life: the day they meet their child. And as I reflect on what we experienced, I think on the concept of Grace. It’s what characterized each interaction and is the only word that could perfectly capture every broad emotion and experience of this wonderful time.


As I watched children come to know their parents, I marveled at the grace which had been shown to them by the consistent, warm love of the mama caregivers at Mwana Villages. This grace allowed these children to have a sense of “self” that did not balk, fly or freeze in fear at meeting their new parents. This grace allowed them to have a sense of confidence that they are loved, important, and cherished. This grace also allowed them the safety to process a deep and difficult experience unfolding before their eyes: becoming someone’s child.


But the grace was also evident in the parents’ love. It was a love of action (though certainly not without emotion), shown in the patience called for as families come to know each other; shown in the attempts at crossing language barriers; shown in the quiet persistence of breaking through the newness to establish precious familiarity. These parents took in stride their children’s trauma and where many would buckle under the fear of a past of hurt or the anxiety of what’s to come, grace steeled their determination to be part of the story of healing.


There was grace in talking with the maman who has known the depths of poverty, and because of the grace shown to her through a little ministry seeking to help, she now opens her home to women in crisis. There was grace in the humor and relationship building between people of two languages, starkly different cultures, near opposite educational backgrounds. There was grace in the small gifts of mercy from a Heavenly Father who orchestrates every detail from logistics to travel to interactions to farewells for some and no more farewells for others.


GRACE defined our trip. It’s only grace that captures the inexpressible joy, humble spirits, solemn commitments and promise of hope. And as we walk forward from there, we profess that it’s grace that sustains us, grace that guides us.