By: Gretchen Nickson
By: Gretchen Nickson

I'm kneeling in the sand, and it's eerily quiet all around me. Final words have been exchanged with the villagers, and the children are ready.


I'm kneeling in the sand, and it's eerily quiet all around me. Final words have been exchanged with the villagers, and the children are ready. We are ready. Nicole and I have come out to the shore ahead of the group, hoping to capture and freeze this "walking out" in time. Much discussion has evolved around this very moment – what will it look like? What will we feel? Will it be all we hoped for? I hear singing and drums, and they are coming. I holler at Nicole, and we get to work. And though perhaps slightly anticlimactic in reality, it truly is all I had hoped for. As the group passes by, I see sheer joy reflected in their faces. It's an emotional moment for us all, as we anticipated it would be. I fall in with everyone next to a little boy of about 8. In that instant, I think... this is "thin space" as it's been described to me – where the space between Heaven and earth is but a sliver.

Exodus Group


Exodus CS


I'm knee-deep in cloudy water, just as we are about to leave the Adovepke shore. The kids are clambering in the boat, huddling in a group at the very front as the villagers line the shoreline to see them off. They have been gracious in this departure – playing drums, singing, dressing the children in their best clothes, and some have even slipped money for the journey into the fingers of the children as we depart. I watch the faces of the children as they settle in, wondering what's running through their heads. I see every expression represented – excitement, trepidation, resignation (where are they taking me now?), perhaps a little fear in a few. I think if they will but wait and see, just one more day, and then they will know. They will tangibly know they are loved and chosen and called by name. I hop in the boat before it gets out too deep, letting out held breath. 24 children are now in our hands. And they are making a life-altering journey across the lake… towards freedom.

Boat Water


Boat Faces


Boat Group


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