In contrast, a few meters away, five hundred bright promising multinational children study and play, learn and grow. This is Julia's class last week, and this morning about 30 of them showed up at our house for prayer and cinnamon rolls (a holy combination). They are the future of Africa, and our world, kids with hearts for the poor and with the physical and mental advantages to effect change. At first glance the gap between an RVA student and Ayub seems to be an immeasurably impossible chasm, and we walk the edge between these two worlds, back and forth, hour by hour.
And yet there is a common thread of experience which ties us all together, that of suffering. I think the strong turnout this morning was related to the tragic events of the week at RVA. One of our student health nurses, Loren Harrison, father of 8, died Thursday morning. He was in America this term for a short HMA while his 4th kid started college (3 older are fairly grown, 4 younger are students in elementary to high school). Sunday he had a headache and collapsed, and it turned out that he had massive intracranial bleeding from a cerebral aneurysm (abnormal blood vessel) that had been a dangerous silent threat and then finally burst. In spite of being near a good medical center in MN for care, in spite of being only 51, his life on this earth ended on Thursday. Loren was a man of constant good humor and cheer, who stood in as a father and strength for countless sick students as he worked here for the last decade. This is a small and close community, and such a loss reverberates throughout the students and staff.
We read Romans 8:17 this morning. As heirs of glory we are also heirs of suffering, walking the same path that Jesus did. It always comes as a surprise that godly people who serve others would suffer, even die. Yet if this was required of Jesus, how can we expect anything less?
So today as we prayed for the kids, and as I watch Ayub's mother stranded in this unfamiliar hospital days from home, surrounded by people whom she can not understand at all, I can only ask that the suffering brings us nearer to Jesus, makes us more aware of where He walked, and more complete in Him in the process.