In every prayer he shares at our table, he is always in prayer for the children from Noel. And, he always asks God to help us live a life of love.
He knows it's the most important thing.
And, that if we have love--a deep holy love--for others and for God, we have everything we need for a life of service dedicated to Him.
Never in my life have I seen someone who lives this out like Claver does, proclaiming love with passion and joy, overcoming all difficulties from his life, and looking forward with great anticipation for what the Lord is doing in him, through him, and around him.
In fact, as I sat down to write about him this morning, I wondered what verse I could share that best describes his heart. And, instantly, I thought "Claver is clothed with compassion and kindness".
THIS is what makes Claver who he is. Compassion. Humility. Quiet strength. Discipline.
"Chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered...forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. Never be without it.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ---the Message--have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives---words, actions, whatever---be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way." (Colossians 3:12-17, The Message)
When we decided to have Claver come with us to Rwanda in May, none of us could sleep from the excitement of it all.
He was going back to his country for the first time in a year, and would be sharing encouragement with the other kids from Noel, surprising longtime friends with his arrival, and enjoying so many of the things he loves about Rwanda.
It was all we could do to keep his secret, so we could arrive as a surprise!
But, what I love, is knowing that our God was even more excited than we were...because He had some surprises of His own in store.
To this day, I still don't know if Claver expected to be used the way he was. I don't know if he knew what his presence would do for the kids, for the leaders, for the schools, for us.I don't know if he knew that he has a strength about him that is like a magnet for others.
And, wow. The students.
As he spoke to the students, my proud momma heart was in a puddle on the floor. (And so were my tears, of course.)
He spoke with such love and compassion, yet with such power and authority. He shared hope, and at the same time, the importance of hard work.
He gave them wisdom that they could really understand.
And I sat there in awe.
He is the ONLY one who could share encouragement that way. Because he is living what he preaches. And, he has lived the very life these students have lived.
So, their trust runs deep. And the history of friendship and respect they share provided Claver a platform to stand on, that we don't have.
Every minute of our time there was used for these students and the development of programs for their futures. Meetings were held with people from all different areas of this work...leaders in the government, headmasters, the orphanage staff, pastors, medical staff, nutrition providers, students in school, students who have left school...the list goes on and on.
And, in every single instance, whether it was dinner with the government officials, or running to get school reports printed at the local printer, Claver was cool, calm, collected...but also compassionate.
We would have been lost without him.
So many of the goals we had for this trip were met because Claver made it happen.
In fact, he remained in Rwanda for two weeks after we returned, working to finish all the details for these students. Arranging medical care for those who were sick and taking them to the doctors they needed. Replenishing supplies at the schools that were needed. Meeting with the students about so many details. Setting up tutors and assistants to help the students. Traveling to the orphanage, to each school, and spending his days solving problems, and arranging future developments for our programs to deepen and become more Rwandan-based in leadership and design.
In all of this, what makes me the most excited is knowing that this is just the beginning of big things for the students we love. Claver has amazing ideas for the future. He has a passion for seeing these students thrive, and become aware of the hope and love they have in Jesus. He has amazing connections with Rwandan people who we can involve in all kinds of ways. And, he has a wisdom and knowledge of these children's hearts and minds that is vital to a ministry like this one.
God knew what He was doing when He set Claver apart as a leader at Noel so many years ago. And He continues to set him apart now for the many years of work and service ahead.
Claver is an ambassador of Christ to these kids.
And, we thank God for the gift of Claver's love both in our lives and in the lives of the students.