The four young men sat at the head table and looked out at the faces smiling back. Michael* tugged at his tie, unaccustomed to wearing one. Edgar’s* broad grin transformed his face, there was no mistaking his enthusiasm. Titus* took everything in – from the people who came, to the food being eaten, and relished this celebration was, in part, for him. Christian* looked to his left and to his right, taking in the faces of the three boys he now considered brothers. Michael, Edgar, Titus, and Christian all came to Agape Hope House from Back2Back partner children’s homes. From the beginning, this common ground helped forge friendship for the four young men. This friendship has led them to look to each other, and overcome adversity.
They were dressed in matching grey suits with royal blue ties, a clear mark of their transition from student to adult. “Graduating means I will no longer wear a school uniform,” explained Edgar. In Nigeria, all students wear uniforms, making them easy to spot when walking to and from school. Nehemiah and Deborah, the boys’ house parents, decided to have suits made for each of them as part of their graduation celebration. “In many ways, receiving your first suit is a rite of passage for men in Nigeria,” explained Nehemiah. “It is a symbol saying, ‘respect me; I am an adult now.’”
In early July, the four young men gathered with their classmates to officially graduate from high school. This moment can mean many things to many people, but for the four Hope Students, it is a step into adulthood and independent living. “This is exciting, but also scary,” shared Michael. “I’m afraid to leave the others, but what keeps me going is we’ve been together for a long time, we’ve shared this experience, and now it’s time for what’s next.”
Titus, the first male in his family to graduate, had steady confidence he would always reach this point. “I knew I would graduate, because God has provided a way. The people around me have encouraged me to be strong and work hard.” Though each of the teens were living separately from their families for most of their youth, they felt their support and were consistently encouraged by one another, their sponsors, and their Hope Parents. Christian agrees, “In life, if you don’t have someone to direct you, you’ll miss the road. Many inspirational people have been helping me. God used them to get me here.”
The graduation ceremony was followed by a gathering to celebrate the young men. Friends, family, and Back2Back staff showed up for the teens, demonstrating accomplishments are cause for celebration. Each of the teens will be pursuing university degrees like mechanical engineering and aviation.
Deborah and Nehemiah stood alongside the teens as their pictures were taken. Through his quiet leadership and her humble example, they have instilled a reverence for their Heavenly Father in each young man. Change is coming for this family, but they go forward knowing God’s provision brought them here, and will lead them on.
“Being able to graduate today,” shared Michael, “is a testament to God’s faithfulness.” Christian, Michael, Titus, and Edgar will undoubtedly shake up the Kingdom in their pursuit of their future. We pray as they tell their story, others will hear of a good God whose plans for us are always more than we could have ever imagined.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the teens we serve.