"And if you SPEND YOURSELVES on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday."
"The Lord will continually guide you. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."- Isaiah 58:10-11
Saturday, November 20, 2010
October 24, 2010
We just tucked our children into bed. Tonight it was 7 of them – 7 of the 81. Today was one of the most amazing days in the life of our family. The timing was incredible - down to the minute. The plans completely unforeseen from our perspective, yet carefully and intricately laid out in detail from above. It was truly a miracle day.
Today is Sunday, October 24, 2010. Location, Middle of Nowhere, Kenya. We were supposed to attend church in a town to the east of here and indeed had been planning to attend there for weeks. However, the pastor’s son unexpectedly became sick and needed to be taken to the hospital, so yesterday, he requested that we reschedule. That left us with nowhere special to go today. Joseph has wanted to go to ‘the bush’ to take care of some business there so he made plans for us to go to church there today.
It was a glorious service. About 50 of us, 20 adults and 30 or more children, sheltered under a tree, singing in Maasai and worshipping God. Rick preached from Psalm 1, and seated under that strong tree we were reminded how a tree firmly planted by water bears fruit, and has leaves that do not wither, and prospers from God’s perspective. Katie sang Chris Tomlin’s song “Our God.”
Then we had lunch. While we were eating we started discussing what the rest of the day would look like. Dan, Joseph’s son, had heard about a family that was housing some orphans that needed help. So we talked. Should we see them today? We needed to come back to that area later in the week to visit another potential child so maybe we should wait and see both families the same day. For whatever reason, Joseph decided we should just make the visit. So we loaded up the van and headed out. It wasn’t far, but the roads were rough. When the hill got too steep we got out and walked the rest of the way up.
We approached what looked to us like one of the largest and nicest homes we have seen in the bush. Still a mud hut, but it had a nice new roof and several rooms with a hallway down the middle. The family room where we were seated was quite large with nice sofas. Admittedly, my first reaction was, who are these people kidding? They can obviously house extra children. We’ve been to many places with far fewer resources and far more children. But we sat down and waited.
It was an unusual meeting. This would be the 7th visit we’ve been on to hear stories of need and of course, they all begin the same – with introductions and a welcome. Somehow that got skipped and the mother of the home walked in, sat on a chair in the hallway, and started talking right away about this little girl. She told us how she had been moving from home to home with her two brothers and that the last home they were in, she had been beaten and forced to leave. Both brothers, worried they would suffer the same fate, had followed her to make sure she was safe and they came to this home – the home of a family friend. Later we found out they had walked there alone - 85 kilometers. That’s over 50 miles through the bush, to get to a safe place!
We went back and forth with questions about the family and the death of the parents. She was standing right there the whole time, this sweet 10ish year old girl, hearing all of this with her head down. Then Joseph called her forward and asked her name. Sharon. Sweet Sharon. A beautiful, beautiful child. We were all appalled at the story and were wondering why this woman was even asking for our help when clearly she had the means to help her. Sharon left Joseph went and snuggled up to Katie and stayed tucked under her arm the rest of the time we were there.
‘So where were her two brothers?’ we asked. Just then, they were outside, getting ready to mount a motorcycle hired by this family to take them back to the home they had just escaped from. The safety they had found in this place was over. They were not wanted here so they were being sent back. The girl could stay until another place could be found, but the boys were going back. So we asked to see them and they came into the room. They walked in with their heads down. They were sad, deeply sad. And we asked whether they wanted to go back. There was no reply from either, just tears - tears streaming down the face of the younger and the older trying to hide his moist eyes. And we cried with them.
And then someone came in and served chai. And all during this time Rick, Joseph and I kept looking at each other and talking under our breath. “They can’t be sent back. I know the older boy is 15 and would be considered on the old end for the Children’s Home, but we can’t send them back. And clearly they are not wanted here. And if they are not wanted, then we can’t leave them here, even for a day. For a child must feel loved and safe and wanted every single day. And why are we even here if not to rescue the needy and the oppressed? God brought us here today for a reason.” And all the while our children were begging for us to bring them home. They were desperate to save them.
It was so crystal clear. They must come with us, because we loved them even though we had just met them. So we told them about God’s love for them and of God’s plans for them. We told them of this divine meeting that was taking place because we weren’t even supposed to be there. We told them about the Children’s Home and the 74 children that live there. We asked if they wanted to come with us. And their faces changed and there were no more tears. Now they wore the face of hope. The fear was gone and they smiled and said ‘Ndio’ Yes! And so plans were made.
We’ve never had such tight quarters in a van and so much joy. The rain started as soon as we picked up our last few passengers and God pushed us up the hill to the Children’s Home. Caleb had somehow decided to bring exactly 9 suckers into the car that morning so each of the 9 children in the van had one.
When we reached the home, the children were waiting for us in the dining room. They greeted the new children with a song. These new children had nothing but the clothes on their backs, so Peter asked if any of the children at the home had clothes to spare. And there was a traffic jam at the door as the children pushed their way out to bring clothes for these new friends. We were SO proud of them. You all know these children have nothing and yet they were pushing each other over to give something away. I stood there with tears in my eyes, overwhelmed at their generosity. Katie and three of the girls went to the kitchen and brought them some food. And then they prayed for them and sang this beautiful Maasai song that says, “God you rescued me and because of You I will fall down and worship You.”
There isn’t a bed to sleep in at the Children’s Home yet so we brought them home with us. The boys are snuggled together in the hallway bunk. Shelah is snuggled in with Rachel. And Naimutie who usually sleeps in the hallway, is next to Katie. And Rick and I are sitting here marveling at God’s incredible plan for three orphaned children in the Middle of Nowhere, Kenya.
As we reflect on the details we are astounded. If the pastor’s son wasn’t sick we wouldn’t have been attending church in the bush. If Dan had not heard this story, we wouldn’t have known about the need. If we decided to wait a few days to go, the boys would not have been there and we would never have known of their situation. If we turned away at the sight of the house, we would have missed the opportunity. If the meeting hadn’t begun so unusually, the older boys would have left on the motorcycle. And why would Caleb bring 9 suckers?
Verse 2 of the song Katie sang in church this morning is ringing through our minds….
“Into the darkness You shine.
Out of the ashes we rise.
There’s no one like You.
None like You.
Our God is greater.
Our God is Stronger.
God,You are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer.
Awesome in Power.
Our God, Our God.”
- Chris Tomlin