When Mama Gloria wakes in the middle of the night it is her children who arise in her heart. At this point, 50 children under the age of 16, plus a group of older teenagers, live with Mama Gloria and her husband Archbishop Ben Kwashi in their home in Jos, Nigeria.
As she lies awake she does what the Apostle Paul encourages us to do: shape our worries and concerns into prayers. So, she prays that she and Archbishop Ben will do a good job teaching their children the ways of God and educating them so they will stand firm in Jesus, love his ways, serve, be kind in a hostile culture, and be grateful.
Gratitude captures Mama Gloria’s heart. Gratitude to God for his great rescue of her own life and the grace he has poured out on her. Her story has its fill of opposition, shame and violence. But God’s goodness and mercy have captured her heart. She gives her life away in response. Porridge every morning for a household of 70+ is a large way to begin a day. But that is just the beginning; besides caring for her children, she is a pastor to the women in her Province and beyond.
An important visitor came to their home recently and she felt the need to apologize; the courtyard around the bishop’s house was not a garden as one might expect it to be but the working yard of a large family. The Kwashi’s have built small rooms against the courtyard walls to house the older children and all the supplies and equipment it takes to care for and feed a family of this size. “I’m sorry,” she said, “that we have turned to Bishop’s house into a place that looks like this.”
Her visitor replied, “Mama Gloria, this is exactly what a bishop’s house is for.” He spoke the truth. The calling on all Christians is to live lives that provide refuge for a broken world: lives of hospitality, nurture, kindness and holiness. The Kwashi’s live into that calling from the Bishop’s house and into the larger world.
As Deborah sings her song of victory in Judges 5:7 she says this: “The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.” Mama Gloria’s work day in and day out, similar to the work of Gafcon, is the work of restoring all things in Jesus Christ. She lives into that calling, not just as a mother to her children and her diocese, but as a mother to the world.