What's in a name?
The serendipitous story of Lydia House's name, and how it all began.
Just over a year ago I had the privilege and joy to spend some personal time with my friends (and now partners) in Liberia, Owen and Viola Dunbar. I stayed in their home, and we enjoyed many wonderful meals and times together, sharing about what God has done. They spoke to me about their dream, born years ago, before the Ebola epidemic hit Liberia, of building a home where marginalized young women and girls could go to learn, grow, and heal from all the hardship they suffer.
They told me about all the women and girls they had helped who had been displaced, raped, and exploited in the aftermath of the civil war. Owen broke my heart with stories of the "zinc brides": young women who were sold into early marriage by their fathers to whichever man would bring him the most pieces of corrugated zinc — the metal sheets used to create roofs for the makeshift shanties they built to live in. Viola charmed me with her energetic mother's heart, speaking with personal emotion about each needy child who came to their school empty-handed, and was admitted and given food and supplies anyway.
Owen showed me his meticulous spreadsheets and architectural plans for the women's home, and we all dreamed together of what it could look like. But we all knew how many obstacles would have to be overcome, and how many insurmountable tasks would have to be accomplished in order for this to become a reality. Still I felt the Lord drawing me closer to this project in an inexplicable way.
On my last night in Monrovia, I lay awake late, dreaming of how I could raise the money to help make this dream a reality. As I drifted off to sleep, I thought to myself, "If I could help them do this, maybe we could call the home 'Lydia House.'" My oldest daughter is named Lydia, and she was named for Lydia in the book of Acts, the independent businesswoman in the city of Philippi who hosted Paul and the other apostles who came there. It seemed like the perfect fit. Of course, I did not want to share this thought with Owen and Viola, because I did not want to appear to be intruding on their work. Additionally, I did not want to get their hopes up about my involvement — what if I was unable to come through on helping them?
I woke early and met Owen outside. He had printed out some more documents about the women's home to show me, and he had them under his arm. Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed with the urge to tell him my idea for the name of the home. I decided to go for it, knowing he was my friend and would take it in stride if he didn't care for the idea. When I tentatively said to him, "What if you called the home 'Lydia House'?" he almost backed away from me in shock, and his eyes became incredulous. I was afraid I had offended him. As I began to apologize, he said, "How did you know the name of this project? It's called 'Project Lydia!'" He pulled the papers from under his arm and unrolled them, revealing a document, dating back over 6 years, with the heading "Project Lydia." We were both speechless. In excitement and expectation, we held hands and prayed right there at that moment, committing the entire dream to the Lord and his perfect timing and provision.
From that moment on, God has opened every door and provided untold resources, and we know he will continue to do so. "For in him, every one of God's promises is a 'Yes.'" (2 Corinthians 1:20)