The book of John tells about Jesus giving the gift of sight to a blind man. The beggar had been blind his entire life until he had that encounter with Jesus. It’s a story I’ve heard numerous times, yet, until a few days ago, had forgotten how miraculous it really is. Someone who couldn’t see suddenly could, and it changed everything for him.
Check out John 9:1-11.
The beauty of that encounter with Jesus was brought to my attention last week by Beatha and Therese. I was leading the Peace House women in a brainstorm session to help them find a name for their co-op and product line. We wanted a name that represented the ladies, where they’ve been, and where they’re going.
To get our creative juices flowing, I asked the ladies to pair up and answer a few questions. What was your life like before you became a part of the Peace House program versus how it currently is? What characteristics of God have you seen during that transition? What verses or stories from the Bible do you identify with? Answering those questions ended up not only giving us a big pool of ideas to work with, it also provided a lot of opportunities for the girls to talk in-depth about what they have been through. The story from John about the blind beggar was among those answers.
Eventually, we narrowed the choices down to our three favorites, the Kinyarwanda words agaciro (value), ndabona (I see), and ndi muzima (new life).
As a group we talked through the top three choices, and each girl shared specific ways each term was true in her life. What the women shared was honest and sometimes heartbreaking to hear. Much of it was centered on how the truths of God that they’ve learned within the last few months clash with how they were previously living. They were not shy to tell of how drastically different their lives are now. A few times the girls got so excited that they clapped and cheered when someone finished sharing.
“I thought because I wasn’t educated, I couldn’t learn new skills and have a safe job. That’s a lie.”
“I have value because God says I do, not because of what people think of me.”
“Now I know that I am loved by people. I didn’t know anyone could really love me.”
“I am worth something. I used to think I wasn’t so I would do whatever it took to make money for food and clothes and a place to live. Now I know I don’t have to do that. I am worth more.”
“Now I think it’s important to love other people, and I try to do it. Before I didn’t think anyone wanted the love I had to give.”
“Because of my life before I came here and what I thought about myself, I couldn’t see anything straight. When you can’t see, it’s easy to get confused. What is right looks wrong. What is wrong looks right. Now that I see God, how I see everything else has changed. I want to see myself how God sees me. I see a better life than what I had before. I can see straight.”
We eventually settled on Ndabona (I see) as the name for the women’s co-op and product line, and I think it’s perfect. Like one of the women said, “now that I see God, how I see everything else has changed.” Much like the blind beggar who couldn’t see anything, now that the women of Peace House have encountered Jesus, they have good vision.
I walked away from the Peace House that day with mixed emotions. Excited and thrilled to know the miracles of God in the lives of my new friends. Heavy-hearted after hearing of the desperation and confusion from their days before Peace House. Inspired to look at myself again with new eyes to see where God is at work and where I need Him to give me new vision.