May 29, 2013 Tom Berlin

A Warm Welcome

Arriving at the Child Rescue Centre is always a warm welcome. It has been more than two years since I was here last and a great deal has changed. The children live in smaller family units in a reconfigured facility. Many of the staff have changed, especially the “aunties” who work with the children. Even the children have changed. Most of the kids whom I have known for years now live in the town of Bo with families who have taken them in. The children who are still at the CRC have grown so much in two years that they are different as well.

But one thing has not changed, and that is the warm welcome kids give to us as their guests. I am here with a team that is primarily college students. Many have been hearing about the CRC since they were children. After the kids at the CRC led them by hand to show them their homes, dining area, computer lab, library, and sewing lab, they sat and talked with them about their life and schools. There was a lot of talking and laughing. When it was all over and we were walking toward the place where we were eating dinner, one of our team said, “That was the coolest thing I have ever experienced in my life!” While that may not be completely true – I am sure she has done a few cooler things in her life – I am glad it made her top 5 or top 10.

I was glad I was there to see it and hear her experience of that time. While I am sure that this ministry to children in Sierra Leone needs us, I am even more sure that we need this ministry, and these kids. They teach us how to have great joy when you have few possessions. They teach us how to embrace new friends readily and joyfully. They teach us the pleasure of sharing our faith with others – the joy of Christian community, which was reinforced when we went to evening vespers and sang and clapped to the music and listened as a 10-year-old gave a prayer that was one of the most sincere and pure of heart I have heard in a very long time.  I find that I am in need of the renewal of what such love and faith have to offer to one who knows what it is to be, as the hymn says, “rich in things and poor in soul.”

Tom Berlin

Rev. Tom Berlin is the Lead Pastor of Floris United Methodist Church. Tom was raised in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and has lived in Virginia most of his life. He is a graduate of Virginia Tech and his Master of Divinity is from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He has co-authored three books and is the author of several small group studies. Tom and his wife Karen have four daughters.

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