In a world where more and more people seek to get more than they seek to give, be one of those people who offer love and support to those who need and ask for it. Look for opportunities to give to those in need. To put a smile on someone’s face. Give and life will give back to you tenfold. Be one of those people who give with an open heart without expecting anything in return.
Growing up in a polygamous family, Jeneba was her father’s only daughter. Her mother was forced to leave because she was contending with three of her father’s wives. When Jeneba’s mother left the house, Jeneba did not go with her because her father did not allow it. So, Jeneba stayed with her father and her stepmothers in the house. It was not easy for Jeneba as it was such a very large family. Every day there were countless abusive words and fights among themselves. Jeneba had to do most of the chores for all three of her stepmothers every day before going to school and after school, and she did it all without complaining.
Next door to Jeneba’s house was a small church which used to host our children’s Good News Club. Because the church was next door to Jeneba’s house, she would sneak away at any opportunity she had to go and meet her friends around the neighborhood. The Good News Club was an escape away from all the endless conflict, abuse, and fighting in her house. It was a risky act for her to do, because she knew if she was caught by her father who was the head of the Muslims in that community or by any of her stepmothers she would be in serious trouble.
Jeneba had a friend named Esther who was the daughter of the pastor of the church near Jeneba’s house. Because of their friendship, Jeneba liked going to the church every week.
Esther was the one who constantly advised Jeneba to always remain steadfast in the things of God no matter the situation. She was always advising her to be there to give a helping hand to her family no matter the challenge or circumstance and to always remember the teachings they received at the Good News Club and encouraged her to put them into practice. One thing that she constantly told her is that Jeneba should learn to give freely without expecting anything in return and would always say that “The hand that gives never runs dry.” Jeneba developed a beautiful heart of giving. She would make sure that she shared whatever little she had with her stepfamily.
Jeneba grew up this way, through primary school until high school and she always prayed quietly when things were not going well with her. Esther sometimes helped Jeneba with her school homework and Jeneba would do the same thing for her brothers and sisters at home but she always kept her church attendance a secret from everyone at home. Jeneba was also forced to go the mosque with her family. She was afraid of what might happen if she refused, so she remained submissive to her father. But Jeneba kept going to church and prayed silently in her home.
When Jeneba’s father passed away suddenly, there was no one to take care of her and provide for her needs. Esther’s father decided to support Jeneba because of the intimate friendship between Jeneba and Esther. Jeneba’s mother later came home and Jeneba went on to become the architect of peace between her mother and her stepmothers, and their family lived out in reconciliation. Even when they were all together Jeneba made sure that she continued serving her stepmothers and also helped them with their work. She remained humble to her stepbrothers and stepsisters and helped them with their school work. And they began to live happily together, with less quarreling, abuse and fighting as was common in the past.
Sometimes, submission can be difficult. But Jeneba’s story shows that we never know what our faithful submitting to God and others will look like, even in the midst of trials. He is a rewarder of those who dilligently seek Him and seek to give selflessly. May we be inspired to carry out lives of healthy submission and giving, whether or not we ever see a return this side of heaven. May we trust that in our submission, God is faithful.
Teah Maxwell Dugbeh is the Good News Club and Frisbee Coordinator at Word Made Flesh Sierra Leone. He also works with the Vulnerable Person Protection Department to address abuse cases in Kroo Bay.
Teah was born in Liberia and came to Sierra Leone during the 1991-2012 Civil War in the sub-region. After several years of serving in a local church, he finally answered God’s call to be the senior pastor of New Life Assemblies Church in Kroo Bay. He has faithfully and intentionally been serving at WMF-SL since 2012 as a volunteer, servant team member and now staff.
Connect with Ryan: firstname.lastname@example.org