My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Before and After

I was reflecting this weekend on the lives of our kids.  The beautiful picture of before and after that they portray.

I used to love those beauty makeover shows.  They kidnap some unsuspecting person for a big fashion do-over--all of the sudden they come out looking almost completely different.  You wonder how they did it and oooo and aaaaahhhh over the whole process.

Sometimes I feel like ooooing and aaaahhhing over our kids too.  Their before and afters are so drastic.  These kids are so different than they were before.

I watched Grace this weekend dancing so freely to the music on Easter.  She said, "Aunty Autumn, I have to dance because Jesus is alive!".  And so, dance she did, with a smile as big as I've ever seen it.  She walks with confidence, knowing that even though she is quirky and sometimes a bit moody, she is well loved.

I look at our little Benard.  When I first saw him in June, he was a knobby-kneed little boy who struggled to put together two English words.  He was quiet and unassuming.  On movie night this week, he was up dancing to the tunes of Roger and Hammerstein's Cinderella (do you remember the one with Whitney Houston and Brandi?).  What a change!

And I look at our Florence, who came and isolated herself from every person here at CORM, until one day, Uncle Steve heard her laugh...and then she began to run...and now she is completely free!  This weekend, we had a massive water fight.  And while John ran around dousing people with the hose, Florence danced in the spray of the water...flooding down over her face and body, she laughed, and she danced.

And Benard and Mershak and Aaron...Robert and Mary and Dora...DK and Abigail and Amenyo.

Those make-over shows have nothing on this.

Before, these kids had no voice.  They worked.  14 hour days.  One meal a day.  Oftentimes, abuse.  No education.  No love.  They were a commodity.

After, these kids have hope.  They have freedom.  They dance.  They sing.  They play.  They worship God, not out of obligation or "this is the way we do things here", but because GOD has done a great work in their life and how could they not worship?  They go to school.  They learn.  They grow.  They fight.  They make-up.  They're children. 

The difference is complete.  The difference is real.  The difference is powerful.

It's not about the make-up or the clothes.  Real and lasting change is internal.  The real change is eternal.  It is spiritual.  It is about giving people the basic human rights that we all deserve.  And then seeing the transformation come about.

And this before and after...it's a beautiful sight to behold.

It is, at times, painful.  It is scary.  It is hard.  It is heartbreaking.

But, oh, it is so good.

I can only imagine what our after-shots are going to look like in a couple more years.  Anything is possible! 

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