How do you do home visits when the kids you work with don’t have homes? Well they do have homes. . . their homes just look very different from what you or I would call home. . . . even very different from what many Africans would call home. But what is home anyway? Is it so much about the house or apartment or hut that you live in? Or is it more about the place where one finds love, relationship, community, and belonging.
Today I had the privilege of visiting 2 of the places that some of my boys call “home.” The first one was an overgrown field behind some apartment buildings. Hidden back in the trees is a small community where 8 or 9 men live together. On first glance, it appeared pretty trashy but as I sat with the guys and really took time to look around I saw the individual houses built with such care. I saw the art projects one of the men, Ivan, was working on. I saw how it could be called home . . . because it is in this field that these men find the belonging that they look for.
Next we went to an abandoned house where a few teenage guys and girls lived along with 5 young boys. The boys were all involved in Masana at some point but are no longer coming. We went with the hope of convincing them to return. We walked into a large open room where the teenagers lay sprawled out on a mat. One of the young boys quickly gave up the crate he was sitting on so that I could join them. Down the hallway were a couple of rooms with sheets covering the doorways. Just past the rooms, was a large open area where the roof of the house had long ago caved-in. As I watched one of the teenage boys, Manuel, interacting with the younger boys, I saw the love that they have for one another. It’s that love that makes that dilapidated house a home.
I pray that more and more, the Lord would give me eyes to see as He sees.