I met Godswill five and a half years ago.
Well, to say I met him is a bit of an overstatement; I talked to him and some other children living at the Stephen Centre in Nigeria over the phone for about an hour, interviewing them for a VOM article. Back then, Godswill was a shy, quiet, 14-year-old boy who liked soccer.
I wondered how he'd gotten such an unusual name. He told me his mother had given birth to twins before he was born, but they did not live. Then she didn't have another child for nine years. When her son was born, on February 15, 1992, she named him "Godswill."
In 2009, I met Godswill's mother, Ruth, in northern Nigeria, while visiting widows and victims of the religious violence. Ruth's husband, a leader in the Christian community, was killed during a religious riot in Kaduna in 2000.
As a widow, Ruth struggled to support Godswill and his younger sister, Joy. So when our partners in Nigeria offered Godswill and Joy a place in a VOM-supported boarding school called the Stephen Centre, Ruth made the decision to send her kids away to be educated. It wasn't easy for her to let them go, but she knew she'd never be able to provide them with a good education.
Last week, I met Godswill again. Now 19, Godswill is a confident young man pursuing a law degree at a university near the Stephen Centre. He loves the Lord and works hard at both school and at being a man of character. As I interviewed other children now living at the Stephen Centre, Godswill acted as my "fixer," suggesting children I could interview. He knows almost all the 307 children living at the school, where he's seen as a leader.
His mother named him Godswill, and I know that Godswill will go on to serve the Lord and carry out God's will in Nigeria.
Dory P. has worked with VOM for six years. She grew up in Ecuador, met her husband while working with another mission organization, and now lives in Oklahoma. Between Dory, her husband and two-year-old son, they share five passports. Dory helps tell the stories of the persecuted through VOM's newsletter, and her husband serves with VOM's international department.