Foundry United Methodist Church

Youth Sunday Testimonies

Efayomi Carr




Sunday, June 17, 2007





On the first day of school in 5th grade, my homeroom teacher Mr. Peed gave us all some very important advice. He said that the best way for us to nurture our young curious minds was to always ask: why? So I, being the smart, countered with a similar question: why me? Why should I sit in this class, why should I listen to this man teach, why was I subject to a bureaucracy which forcibly placed me in a school when Iíd rather enjoy doing other things.


Fortunately for me, as Iíve grown older my why me attitude has slightly shifted. Over this last Christmas break I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting Sierra Leone, which along with being the place of a decade-long civil war and holding one of the largest international diamond trades happens to also be the birthplace of my father. During my trip I had the chance to see some of the most destitute and impoverished circumstances in the world. However, one image struck me particularly hard.


Now to continue my story I must reveal to you all one of my most sacred secrets. Iím serious now. Once I say this, Iíd be very upset if you so much as mentioned this in fellowship hall, on the ride home, or even 10 years from now. This stays between you and me Ė and by ďyou,Ē I am, of course, referring to everyone in this congregation. Also, let me preface by mentioning though this is embarrassing it comes as a direct result of an enlightening moment I had while staring at the Sierra Leonean sky. Well here goes, I absolutely love star gazingÖ OK, I donít see the look of amazement and shock that one would expect after sharing one of their closest secrets, but fine. Let me at least explain why I enjoy it so much. There are 3 main reasons.


The first is that it is very humbling for me. It puts things in perspective when I can look up into the vast landscape of twinkling lights and know that these things arrived on this planet far before me and will stay there far after I am gone. That these same stars stood over people and places that I could never see or feel. To look and stare at something that I could never possibly grasp or contain makes me feel incredibly insignificant and ordinary, as depressing as that may sound. It causes my actions to seem unimportant when I step back and realize that there are others literally searching for a way to put food on the table.


This leads into my second reason which is that I feel more connected to the greater human community when I see the stars. As I sat looking at the illuminated sky my mind couldnít help but drift back to DC, and imagine who back home was watching these stars. This led me to wonder who anywhere in the world could be peering at the very same images. Itís tremendously powerful for me to look towards the heavens and wonder why I was in the position Iím in. Why had I been fortunate enough to be born in to a family, a country, and a life, of relative wealth, leisure, and comfort while I could just have easily been placed into a situation of poverty, struggle, and war? This consumed my thoughts as my gaze fell from the sky down to the rocky, unpaved streets of Sierra Leone. And though I was disheartened following these revelations, I became somewhat encouraged again.


You see the 3rd and final reason for my love of stargazing is inspiration. Itís incredibly motivating to understand how little effect I can have on the stars themselves, while realizing that I can greatly alter the world beneath them. Though I was surrounded by destitute circumstances I held hope that maybe I could conceivably bring change to the situation. Call me naÔve or even foolish for thinking this but I stand by the belief that all of us can positively change the world. Now although curing AIDS is beyond the reach for most of us, our simple acts of kindness and charity can also have profound impacts on those around us. Though we sometimes forget, or at least I do, we have all been placed in a situation of extreme luxury and opportunity, but this opportunity is wasted if we donít use it for the betterment of others. In Sierra Leone, I was lucky enough to see my blood cousins in a situation of need which made this realization easy for me, but sometimes I have trouble recognizing that there are many more people in the larger human family with greater adversity. And I donít know about you all, but I canít look up at nighttime without wondering: why me?