What’s In a Name? by Julie Holland

Our first night at Sam’s Place was exciting. The children all gathered in the family room to welcome us. Shadrack, one of the teachers, said a few words of welcome and then gave each of the visitors a chance to introduce themselves. Most of the team had been to Sam’s Place before and the children remembered us. After all of the introductions were completed, the Head Boy and Head Girl each signed a few words and another student offered a prayer of thanksgiving. Then we had a chance to visit together.

The children were excited to see us and wanted to talk all at once. The thing that struck me most about the conversations was what the children did NOT ask us. Although we always bring gifts for them, they never asked what we brought this time. The kids know we always complete construction projects while we are here, but they did not ask about those. They did not ask about the computers or books or clothes that we normally bring. The children really only had one question for each of us, “Do you remember my name?” They wanted us to spell their names and give their name signs and if we could, a huge grin would spread across their faces. That’s it – just know their name.

These children spent their early years rejected by those around them. Without any form of language, they could not communicate with others or develop relationships. Some did not even have a name when they came to Sam’s Place. To them, the fact that we knew their names meant that they were important to us. Our knowing them individually, gave them a sense of worth. The lyrics to one of my favorite songs, “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin, express something similar about God. The song says, “You put the stars in the sky and you know them by name.” As numerous as the stars are, God knows each of them by name and he knows us the same way. We aren’t just nameless faces to God; each of us is one of His children. He knows us by name – we matter to Him! What a comforting thought that the God who created the universe not only knows our names, He loves and cares for us.