What Love Can Do
“Small things done with great love will change the world”. – Mother Teresa
While serving in Lancaster, PA I worked very closely with the Pastor of the Greek Orthodox Church, Fr. Alexander Veronis (now retired). He was President of the Board of The Council of Churches I led, chaired the Crop Walk Committee that my ministry spearheaded (an effort he started fifty years ago), and was recognized internationally for his lifelong support of missions. He and his family became very dear to Pam and I. On Monday of this week, Pam and I called to congratulate them on their family’s upcoming mission project to Migori. a small town in western Kenya, August 2-16. They will build several wells for fresh water and take well-drilling equipment to seed a local effort that will allow villagers to drill their own wells in additional remote areas. Sixteen of the Veronis’ children and grandchildren are taking part in the Africa project that will also build a small school. Several grandchildren will help lead a bible camp for 250 children in the village of Chavogere where in 1988 Fr. Alexander Veronis and his wife, Pearl, had led a 25 member summer mission team that built an Orthodox Medical Clinic. At that time, the village had no running water, no electricity, no paved roads, no bus stop, no school, no clinic, and no established church community.
It is amazing how God has worked in this village since the original mission trip. At that time there was only one drinking water source three miles away and the “Mammas” from the village would carry five-gallon buckets on their heads every day…even more water was needed for cooking and daily baths for their American guests. Participants wrote about the long hard work of building the clinic from handmade cinder blocks to scaffolding, hauling water from a local river to mix cement for mortar, setting windows and doors and building a roof. At the same time, a team of two doctors and four nurses treated over 300 people daily. When the Clinic was finished in six weeks, the villagers held their first Liturgy in the completed clinic.
Fr. Veronis and Pearl remember distinctly how the village Chief kept shaking his head and asking why a group of foreigners would come and help them, as poor as they were. But that’s when God works best in everyone’s hearts!! The church mission team experienced such extravagant hospitality in return. Many natives walked barefoot for up to five miles from neighboring villages on hazardous roads to attend worship…and even got there early!! And the mission workers were deeply moved by having hundreds serenade them in Swahili, bearing baskets of fruits and vegetables plus one chicken and one goat….from their meager provisions. And, the dancing and worship was so powerful, genuinely exciting, and humbling.
In the intervening years, the Orthodox Christian Mission Center has sponsored additional teams to the same remote area. Chavogere now has nurses’ quarters, a church, and a high school. The community is now thriving and growing and educating their children. There is employment and opportunity no one could have dreamed of twenty years ago – EXCEPT GOD!!
Look what Love can do – it changes the world one village at a time. And, even more dramatic – the real change is in human hearts as they partner to “make disciples of all nations”.