Magdeline James is no stranger to hardship. At 15 years old, the tiny girl has carried more burdens than any child should bear. After her father died, her mother remarried and moved away, leaving Magdeline to care for her younger siblings.
Magdeline was, at the time, a mere child herself. She was thrust into the responsibility of adulthood, and she could feel herself unraveling. She stayed up long after the other children were fast asleep for the night – scrubbing, washing and sweeping. Each night, she crawled into bed bone-tired. After a few hours of restless sleep, she stumbled out of bed before dawn, wiped the sleep from her eyes and braced herself to do it all again. School and play was a distant dream. When Magdeline first met Leah, Back2Back staff in Nigeria, she was exhausted. She knew she couldn’t continue holding everything together for much longer.
The street-smart girl had learned to be guarded and hold strangers at arms length. After all, she and her siblings’ survival depended on it. But she could tell something was different about Leah. She soon met other women at Back2Back, like Dori and Ruth. Their love and kindness sparked a sliver of hope in Magdeline’s heart.
Leah continued to be gentle, yet persistent, patiently earning more and more of Magdeline’s trust. Anytime Leah helped fetch water or asked about her day, something warm flickered in Magdeline’s heart. Over the next weeks and months, their friendship continued to grow. Their time together developed a predictable rhythm – Magdeline would share about her day, and Leah would help with chores. One warm afternoon, as they were scrubbing shirts, Leah paused and turned to Magdeline.
“I know how tired you have been, trying to take care of everything on your own. What would you think about moving into a home for girls who are just like you?,” Leah asked. She smiled warmly before continuing. “You could live with parents and be a part of a family who would care for you. You could finally go to school. We have found a wonderful foster family from our church who has offered to care for your siblings.”
Without hesitation, Magdeline answered,”Yes, yes! I would love that!”
Just a few months earlier, the invitation to join a loving family might have seemed too good to be true. Since then, the hope that started as a little spark in Magdeline’s heart had grown into a roaring fire, thawing out the cold places. For the first time in a very long time, Magdeline began to dream.
In April, Magdeline bravely stepped into the unknown, leaving everything she knew for a chance. A chance to break the cycle of poverty. A chance to experience the care of a family. A chance to be the first in her family line to receive an education.
April 12th marked the start of her new beginning, as she and seven other girls were welcomed into Back2Back Ministries’ Hope Program. The girls cried. They were nervous, but mostly relieved to finally have a family to call their own.
This is the heart of Back2Back.
This is the power of the Hope Program.