Alessandra made it into the terminal and even there she was just beginning to panic when she ran into Wesley, a young businessman that she had met back at JFK. He stepped up to guide her up to the custom desk with the skill of a seasoned traveler. As she made it past the booth, she saw a young man with a sign with her name on it. He introduced himself as Dan Carson. Alessandra introduced Wesley, her new friend. Once the trunks came off the conveyor belt and were loaded into Dan’s Land Rover, Alessandra waved good-by to Wesley, wondering if she would ever see him again.
Along the drive from the airport, Alessandra’s senses were quickly bombarded by the activity that was teeming all around her. The ride from the airport to downtown Kinshasa was the most eye-opening trip of her twenty-two years. Only a few miles down the street, they came to the Kinshasa slum that Dan said was called Masina. A river of walking, talking people seemed to flood her soul with the reality of their existence. Once as their vehicle came to a stop near a dirty, open-air market, she glimpsed a baby sitting on the filthy ground. He sat crying with fatigue as his mother stood by trying to sell sandals, probably to buy enough food for that day. She felt shocked by her own thoughts and feelings, disgusted by the filth. Dan interrupted her thoughts.
“So, what do you think, Alessandra? Are you going to like Africa?”
“To be honest, I’m not quite sure yet. Things appear to be so much worse than I actually expected that I’m staggering under the shock of it all.”
The reality of humanity, the shocking reality of it, can feel overwhelming to any new traveler. Alessandra is just learning the vastness of the world. But God loves this world and all of its occupants. He loved the world so much that He did something remarkable. John 3:16 shares God’s heart, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” What shocked Alessandra was no shock to God. He loves His creation, all of it, not just those from the western hemisphere. The Congolese are as loved by God as any other nationality. May the truth of the vastness of God’s love for the world soak into our souls, making us tender to the thing closest to God’s heart: humanity.