Knowing Christ Deeply: Hawa's Story

12/30/13

Hawa sits with her Bible open and waits for each of her younger sisters to join her in the living area of their house at the Children of the Nations (COTN) Banta Children’s Village in Sierra Leone. After asking one of the others to lead some praise songs and a prayer, she starts to read from Genesis. Hawa has decided to take the girls through this book each evening and they are on the story of Noah. She takes her time to read the passage in English and then explains things once more in Krio so that even the younger kids understand the message of rescue and redemption. 

 
As Hawa finishes with the evening’s Bible lesson she leads the girls in a round of prayers for safe nights of sleep, help with their studies at school, blessings for each of their sponsors, wisdom for the staff of COTN all around the world, and protection for their extended family members in Sierra Leone. She asks that God will provide more for COTN and that he would inspire her sisters and herself to help other people just as people like you have helped them. Following the final “amen” the girls stretch and scatter throughout the house—some to bed, others to books, and one or two to a little leftover supper. It is just another evening devotion in Hawa’s house.
 
Hawa says she studies the Bible so that she can "share with others"
Hawa says she studies the Bible so that she can "share with others [so they will] know Christ just as I have known Christ."
 
What is remarkable about this scene is not that Hawa is leading her family in evening devotions—this is the kind of thing that is expected of the oldest child in the house. What is remarkable is the time and effort Hawa invests in each evening, ensuring that her younger sisters receive solid Bible instruction each and every night before bed. What is remarkable is how different this beautiful, confident, and dignified young woman is to the images that are conjured when we think of the words "African orphan." Like all the girls gathered around her each evening, Hawa's story is one that defies such stereotypes and reminds us that we follow a God of rescue and redemption.   
 
Hawa lost her parents during Sierra Leone’s long rebel war, which ended about a decade ago. The pain of that loss can never be underestimated. But, with the help of people like you, she was brought into the family of COTN in 2002. "Before I came to COTN, I was living with my aunty," explains Hawa.  "I had no bed, and no time with God because they were all Muslim. It was hard to be the youngest because I did all the work."  
 
Hawa (far right, seated) with some of her COTN sisters at the House of Peace
        Hawa (far right, seated) with some of her COTN sisters at the House of Peace in COTN’s Children’s Village. 
 
Looking back on the time when she first moved into the Children's Home, Hawa says, “My life was different because of COTN. I met new family and I had a bed of my own. The greatest thing is they made me to know Christ deeply. They provided someone for me to call my own parents." Hawa has maintained her connections to her extended family members over the years and when she thinks of COTN’s message of transformation she is quick to think of them. “I pray for them every day,” she explains. She also prays for her country, hoping that “Sierra Leone will become a better nation, with good leaders."
 
A popular girl with a serious eye for style, Hawa is also serious about gaining the most from the opportunities people like you are providing for her through COTN. She has not yet decided how she would like to use these opportunities after she finishes school. "My plan is to be a business manager,” she says, “but God has his own plan for me!" One thing is for sure—Hawa is a gifted and sacrificial leader in her home. "Sometimes when you tell [the other girls] to do the [house] work, they won't, so sometimes you have to sacrifice," she explains. "They call me Cinderella in the house!"
 
Hawa is a gifted and sacrificial leader in her home.
 
Hawa has one of those smiles which takes over her whole face and never fails to make you want to smile along with her. She smiles when she is asked about her favorite memory—it is of the day that she was baptized. She smiles when you call her by one of the two middle names she has taken—“Angel” or “Mercy." She smiles when she thinks about the upcoming Christmas holiday—a time when she also celebrates her birthday. She smiles when she thinks of her sponsors and what she would like to say to them: “That God will bless them for sponsoring me. They bless me with their letters and make me feel like I have someone who cares for me, even though they aren't my biological relatives. I am thankful for their concern and care.” 
 
Hawa needs additional sponsors to provide for her complete care. Will you help provide for her today?