I’m staying at a place where Christians from the West gather. There are all kinds of meetings happening with natives, foreigners, NGO’s, and men and women.I’ve been listening in, ok so it’s ease dropping, but I like to learn what’s happening and where God is moving. It’s been awesome being in a place where almost every conversation is about Jesus meeting the needs of the marginalized. My heart is being revived.

I was curious about the one American man in his 50’s. He met with locals, Pastors, women in government, other western men working with other NGO’s etc. Finally, after enough ease dropping, I introduced myself. Then I did what I do, I fired away with questions. First, his name. Turns out his name is C.H. Initials?  I pushed, “What do they stand for?” Come on you and I both know there’s a story behind initials.

On to more serious questions.What are you doing here? He shared: he’s helping establish best practices for orphanages in Uganda. There are over 800 orphanages  of which only 35 are sanctioned by the government. Many well-meaning people start an orphanage but their inexperience can lead to future problems.  His mission is to help a country like Uganda become “orphan less.” His organization tries to get kids adopted into kin families along with providing assistance to those kin families (i.e. micro finance loans). Steve shared that Rwanda made that its mission after the 1990 Genocide and they are almost orphan less. That’s incredible.

I continued my questioning. Those who know me aren’t surprised.

“How long have you been doing this?”

He responded, “Twenty years.”

Immediately I had respect. Here’s a person from whom I want to learn.

So I asked him, “If you could give me one piece of advise what would it be?”

His answer? “Listen to the people. Hear their voice.”He went on to explain how too many American’s come to “teach and impart” to the locals when in fact they should come, listen, learn and hear their voice. Then we adapt to their voice.

Profound. I sat for a minute pondering his words. “Well, I guess that’s advise we could apply just about anywhere couldn’t we?”

Friendship. Marriage. Work. Ministry. Children.

Listen. Hear. Learn. Let their voice speak.

I take that mean I’m to hear with my ear, listen and learn with my heart and mind, and use my mouth to speak with a voice inclusive of others.