I considered my mother to be quite a religious person. You only had to listen to her pray to conclude she had developed a personal relationship with God. She prayed whenever we received visitors, before and after every meal, before going to bed, immediately she woke up, and on every occasion she thought praying was necessary. I remember her praying on occasions I refused to listen to her counsel. I was the opposite. I was impatient during the prayers and did not like them. My mother pleaded with me to know how to pray even if it was just the Lord’s Prayer. She insisted that prayer gives hope during times of despair. I did not think much about such counsel because I was under her care and did not see myself lacking anything at least in the near future. I did not know that my inability to pray would be the source of my embarrassment one day.
One year ago, eight of us from college formed a charity group where we focused on visiting children’s homes and donating whatever we could afford. These children were mainly orphans or those who had been neglected by their parents and subsequently rescued by authorities. We wanted to inspire these children that they could achieve anything in their lives as long as they were determined, focused, and worked hard. Three members of our group had been raised in similar facilities and had positive experiences to share. We also thought being in college gave us the leverage to make an impact on the society-we were not just in college to achieve personal goals, but to make a difference in other people’s lives.
We named our group EMMAD (Eight Members Making A Difference). Our mode of operation was based on shared responsibility. We were all equal participants in the initiative, and therefore, there were no senior or junior members. However, when we started visiting the first children’s homes, one of our members, Cate was the most active. She would introduce the whole group and we would just have to nod whenever she mentioned each of our names. She would pray before we talked to the children, and everyone was pleased with her. She made it quite easy for everyone; we only had to prepare to talk to the children. At least for the first two visits, everything ran smoothly and everyone was encouraged by the good progress.
A visit to the third children’s home did not auger well. The county education officer was present to listen to us as we interacted with the children. He had already heard about our initiative and had been impressed by it. He had come to witness the talks and as we had planned, convince him to provide us with more resources. As usual, Cate started to address the gathering by thanking everyone for attending, and then introduced us. I thought I had not heard clearly when she mentioned that I would lead the team in prayer before we started. Since I was standing on the far end, I could not catch her attention to turn down the request. I was not even creative enough to request another member to pray. All I remember was me telling the gathering to close their eyes for prayer, but did not utter more than three words. I stood at the podium trembling while more than three hundred children laughed uncontrollably. Although Cate ran to my rescue, the whole group was embarrassed. I did not gather the energy to talk to the children at that event.
Since that day, I have not participated in other charity groups vising children’s homes. I usually have a feeling that some of the children from that facility might have been transferred to other facilities and would laugh whenever they spot me. However, I have learnt to pray, not necessarily to avenge for the embarrassing moment but for my own good. I hope that soon I will find the strength to participate in similar charity activities.