Linking up with old friends is so refreshing! Kimberly and I recently reconnected with some dear friends that we served alongside for four years in Europe more than 10 years ago. Although our paths have crossed a couple of times since that season, it is hard to stay in touch when you are separated by thousands of miles. Just a couple of months ago, they relocated to our neighborhood and it has been so exciting connecting with them on a deeper level again!
We are designed for relationships. God built us with longings to “know and be known by” the people that He has led into our lives. No relationship is an accident! One of the thrilling aspects of Hope Haven Rwanda is the ever-growing amount of returning volunteers. Almost everyone is willing to try something once, but when we see dozens of people each year choosing to make the trek to Rwanda to reconnect with their dear friends in our community, it is clearly the relationships that draw them back.
It reminds me of Saint Paul’s clear fondness for his friends. As Tony Merida puts it: “Paul was relationally wealthy. He traveled with friends; he stayed with them; he visited them. He worked alongside them; he preached alongside them; he was beaten alongside them. He even sang in prison with friends. He encouraged them, and was encouraged by them. At times, Paul disagreed with his friends. And at times, he reconciled with them. A quick read through Acts shows Paul’s commitment to, and genuine concern for, his friends: Barnabas, Titus, Silas, Luke, Priscilla, Aquilla, Lydia, Onesiphorus, Epaphroditus, John Mark, the Ephesian elders, and more. In Romans 16 he mentions more than 30 names. The whole list oozes with affection; it also magnifies the gospel, demonstrates beautiful diversity (race, rank, gender), and contains moving expressions of honor.”
This summer, a group of students from Valor Christian High School returned to Hope Haven Rwanda AGAIN to continue investing in the families and students there. One of their leaders, Drew, has traveled to Hope Haven Rwanda for many of the seven years that Valor has served there. Drew continues to dig into relationships—and to deliver hope! People like this are the heroes of the Hope Haven story!
We all need friends, and one of God’s gracious gifts to us is sisters and brothers who will faithfully share the journey with us! As Proverbs 18:24 is rendered in King James-era English, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Who can you befriend this week?