She knows no sense of meandering because she walks with purpose wherever she goes and yet she cannot see where she’s headed. Hawa is blind and yet it doesn’t take long to see that she perceives much. She is a city on a hill and she dwells among a hidden population. “A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand and it gives light to all in the house.” (Mathew 5:14-15) Hawa is a lamp on a stand in Makeni, Sierra Leone, and often those who meet her have no choice but to leave her worshipping Jesus.
To those who know her, she is called Auntie Hawa in respect for her age, and I suspect, her wisdom. She proudly wears her 54-years on Earth openly, while they have left traces on her wiry body. Auntie Hawa became sick as a young child and has been blind ever since. Her parents sent her away to a school for blind children, where Hawa learned to love learning.
Hawa’s intimacy with Christ began after she dreamed someone told her she needed to begin attending church instead of practicing Islam with the rest of her family. She tells the story of her conversion as a matter of fact. “After waking up that morning, I went and told my father that I was going to have to become a Christian now and he said, ‘If that is what God has planned for you, then who am I to say anything about that?’” And just as she tells the story of her dream, she explains her decision to follow Christ. He has called her according to His purposes, and so she obeys.
Auntie Hawa has survived war. She has survived an abusive marriage, assaults, severe illness, she has gone without and she has seen His abundant provision. Regardless of which space she finds herself in, when you ask her how she is doing, Auntie Hawa responds with a joyful, “To almighty God be the glory!” As we left Auntie Hawa last month, she was in the process of searching for a new room to rent because the conditions of her current housing were making her and her children quite ill. Auntie Hawa did not know how she would be able to afford rent for a new room, and yet she trusts Her Savior.
“Some of my friends who are disabled go into the streets to beg, but I trust my God,” she said. “I choose not to beg and He has never let me down. He is my all in all.” Auntie Hawa loves Jesus in a way that some of us will never understand. She does not come to Him for what He can give her, but for who He is. As we approach this Thanksgiving season, we all have something to learn from the life of this beautiful woman.
This Thanksgiving you could share more about Auntie Hawa with your loved ones by hosting a Luke 14 Feast and setting a place at your table in remembrance of those whom Jesus has called us to remember on our upcoming day of feasting.