Greetings from Team Liberia! The past two weeks have been a blur of busy days filled with teaching volleyball, basketball, soccer, dodgeball, and, of course, my favorite, track and field. Teaching and watching each sport has been fascinating from a coaching and leadership perspective. Some of the children are naturally talented athletes who are remarkably quick and agile, while others are not quite so athletically inclined. No matter their talent level, however, the children are quick to respond to positive coaching and encouragement and it has been enjoyable to watch them learn new skills and incorporating the Biblical lessons we have been teaching, especially honoring the Lord in our actions and behavior through our effort levels, teamwork, and attitude whether we are winning or losing. Today we held a track meet with the oldest boys and oldest girls, which was incredibly fun! We had track events in the morning (400, 100, and 4x100 relay) and field events in the afternoon (shot put, discus, and long jump). Us MOAM leaders were coaches and we were slightly stunned at the performances of some of the athletes whom, up until today, have not been athletic all-stars in other sports, but ended up being able to jump, run, or throw surprisingly well.
Watching the track meet today reminded me of a principle (there are many) that I have been learning throughout this trip. Before I came to Liberia, many people told me that being in Africa would make me infinitely more grateful for the things I have in the United States. That by living with sporadic power, absent A/C, and unfamiliar food preferences, these experiences would show me just how good I have it. While this is partially true (I am very grateful for good coffee!), I have been pondering something we have been teaching the children this week. It comes from Matthew 25:14-30 and the Parable of the Talents. It’s a familiar story — the master leaves for a trip, but first divides talents (in unequal amounts) between three of his servants and entrusts them to use it wisely during his absence. However, upon his return, the master discovers only two of the servants have used the talents wisely and invested the money for a 100% ROI, while the third servant did nothing with his portion and wastefully hid it.
I’ve always found it interesting and slightly frustrating that the master gave different amounts of money to the servants. He clearly gives more on purpose to the first and second servant and less on purpose to the third servant. However, this perception is based on not trusting the master’s judgement or purpose and not appropriately viewing the responsibility that comes with more talents. Our Master has a purpose and plan in each of our lives (Proverbs 3:5-6). In the same way, being in Liberia, working with orphans, seeing the poverty and lack of opportunity throughout the country has been convicting as I examine my own life. Am I using the opportunities and talents God has given me to their fullest potential for His glory, or am I just gratefully complacent for my standard of living as compared to other, poorer countries? I believe true gratitude necessitates a response — that it is not merely enough to appreciate a cold room on a hot day or our freedoms or safety or anything else, but we must also be faithful stewards of what we have been given (Matthew 25:21, Hebrews 13:5). What we do and how we act is direct evidence of who we are. As we wrap up our weeks here, I am reminded of the power the Gospel gives our lives and how it changes our perceptions. Whether we are an orphan in Liberia or a college athlete in the United States, may we be faithful stewards of what He has entrusted us with, striving to serve Him better and better with all that we are and have because of what He has done.
- Abby Stanley, Liberty University Track and Field Graduate Assistant
To God be the Glory!
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