Family Without Borders
by Kelsey Meadows
It's been a little over two years since I first felt pulled to travel to Sierra Leone. It was right around the time that Charles and Ally Currie began sponsoring triplet boys at the center and were considering traveling to meet them. At the time, I really had no personal connection to anyone there; I wasn’t adopting or sponsoring any kids. So, before I shucked off three thousand dollars on a short-term mission trip, I needed to know why exactly I should go, instead of just giving support through the child sponsorship program. As I was praying through this, I felt a real strong sense from the Lord that I needed to go because we have family there that I needed to meet.
"I felt a real, strong sense from the Lord that I needed to go because we have family there that I needed to meet."
Initially, as I reflected on that revelation, I thought about the Roberts and Smith families who are adopting children from the center. I thought about Malikie, Abigail, and Santigie (who is literally on his way home as I’m writing this!) and how those are kids who will one day be in Jackson, TN, members of City Fellowship, and involved in City Kids and Student Ministry. I tried to imagine how intimidating a transition like that would be for those kids and to consider how just one more familiar face, one less new person to meet, one more person with a shared experience might make City Fellowship and Jackson, TN feel a little more like home. Perhaps the Lord was asking me to be a part of closing the distance between the worlds of Sierra Leone and Jackson, TN for the sake of those kids.
"The Lord was asking me to be a part of closing the distance between Sierra Leone and Jackson not just for my own sake, but for our sake as a church as well."
So in June of 2016, I boarded a plane along with Charles and Ally Currie, Ronnie Smith, and David Roberts to Freetown, Sierra Leone. And as we spent our week hanging out with the children and staff at the center, it became more and more clear to me that the family I needed to meet there wasn’t just the children being adopted by our City folks; it was Pastor Daniel and Auntie Augusta who are prophetic witnesses of God’s provision in difficult circumstances; it was Katie, the American director, who needed prayer and encouragement for the hard work ahead; it was the older girls who have a more stable sense of their identity in Christ as high schoolers than I have at age 27.
I realized that the family we have in Sierra Leone is much larger than 3 children, and that while the Lord was asking me to be a part of closing the distance between the worlds of Sierra Leone and Jackson, TN, it was not just for the sake of these kids but for my own sake as well. I needed to meet Adamsay, who I now sponsor and get to Skype with every month. I needed to swap stories and songs (she loves to sing, too!), to share language and traditions, to pray for and to receive prayer from my sister across the ocean. But I believe that the Lord was asking me to be a part of closing the distance between Sierra Leone and Jackson not just for my own sake, but for our sake as a church as well. God’s family is one without borders. So as we work to build a multi-ethnic family of faith on mission with King Jesus it's important to remember that our work may start in Jackson, TN, but it goes way beyond these Jackson borders; it crosses oceans and even reaches down into Sierra Leone.
"while family requires many sacrifices, in the end we get each other. and that’s a gift worth sacrificing everything for."
A lot has happened since that summer in 2016. I never imagined that in just over a year we’d be planning a City Fellowship trip to support Charles and Ally who are now living in Sierra Leone! As you are considering the trip, pray about why the Lord might be asking you to go. What are the barriers that would keep you from going, and what are some creative ways to work around them? While the expense of the trip might be a factor in your decision, don’t let it be the only factor. There are ways to budget and fundraise that might require some sacrifices, but are well worth it in the long run. After all, we are building a family. And while family requires many sacrifices, in the end we get each other. And that’s a gift worth sacrificing everything for.