I went to downtown East Lansing this morning to check out the Sidewalk Sale, and ended up in Kirabo, the fair trade store. At the checkout counter, there was a basket of these tiny crosses. They are made from spent bullet casings left over from the brutal civil war that raged in Liberia in the 1990s. The artisans who make them created them to witness to the triumph of hope and healing over the hatred that destroyed so much of their lives and well-being.
My last parish had a number of Liberian members, refugees from that civil war. Their stories were challenging, horrifying, and tragic. Although many of them, in the end, were able to tell their own tales of redemption. The one story each person always told however, was of unswerving faith in God. When a roomful of Liberians sings "It is Well With My Soul" at the top of their lungs, and when you know what they have come through and risen above, how can you not believe?
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul.