“We were hungry, and you fed us.” I’d never had anyone say it that specifically to me before. Emmanuel Kai, the business manager of Ford-Madden Christian Academy, plainly said it. He told the story of Liberians and their children in the midst of war and hunger, and then he said no one but Christian Relief Fund came through to feed them.
I had obviously heard that phrase before, but it wasn’t from a Liberian but a Galilean. And the statement seemed to be about all that really mattered to him. That’s why it kind of bugs me that I haven’t heard it said to me specifically more often. I guess my goal is make sure the man from Israel says it to me at least one more time at a strategic moment.
And then Mr. Kai told me all kinds of history related to the United States and Liberia. It was interesting and surprising how little I know about my own country at certain points in history. He explained how he had similar roots to me because of the settlers that came from America to Liberia. Then he told of his recent president, Charles Taylor, and how he had taught the people of his country that the United States was the enemy. But now with the new president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, he had been taught that we are not only friends but family. He expounded that since we came from common roots that we share the same blood and are family. But then he said something even more profound. He shared that his new friends from the U.S. were also family because we both share in the blood of Christ.
I told Emmanuel that we were “Double Brothers.” We were rooted in the same family and rooted in the same Lord. We share physical and spiritual roots.
As I am about to leave Liberia, I have made a lot of friends. But I have also found a family. Someone shared how there had never been a white man from the United States to come and personally visit him before. I couldn’t quite comprehend the significance of that from his perspective.
I left them with a message. It was the message of hope. It’s why I wear orange. Hope is a joyful anticipation of the future. I have that for Liberia. I have that for the Ford-Madden Christian Academy. I have that for my friends and family here. Hope.