She came to the meeting with a bandage on her neck. She was a mother who had come to see her daughter perform.
It was the last day of a 5-day vacation Bible school that JSK had facilitated with the help of many local church volunteers for children and neighbours of the families we see day in and day out in our home-based care work.
Most of the children were from families in which at least one member was known to be HIV positive - or had already passed away from the disease.
When we see the kids we would never imagine the challenges that they live with. On the surface we had a week of engaging activities with bright, active, rambunctious kids. Yes some of them were thin. Yes others were not able to sit still. But take any group of kids from off the street and you will find that.
Why do we spend this time with these kids? Because beyond the outside 'kiddishness' are many areas that need deep love.
In one of the classes the boys were speaking about stealing. One boy said that the other boys' brother was a thief. The second boy responded in kind - claiming that the first boy's father had been sent to a lock-up because he was found stealing.
Its sobering to think of how secure my family is. How far from the culture of the police station I am. But how different it is for so many of the children what we are in touch with.
What a to help set a positive course for some of these kids. The overarching theme of the week was "Its Your Choice" and we spend a wonderful time helping all of us to understand the consequences of our decisions - and making choices to change too!
In one of the games we played, the kids had one friend blindfolded - and then four others guided them by voice through a set of obstacles. The results were hilarious - lots of shouting - and plenty of hand-waving too! 'Go here, go there' accompanied by directions for the unseeing friend!
How many of our instructions are the same way. Statements to do things - when the person does not really see what we can see.
But that hardly means that guidance is impossible. Despite the confusion the kids managed to navigate their way through. In each one of our lives we face a multitude of different voices. Which ones should we listen to? How to make good and Godly choices?
One of the take-homes of this week was knowing that God cares for us and hears our prayers. How much He yearns to have us use the free will that He has given us as a precious gift in loving and obedient ways to Him.
|Spiderman joined us on our last day too!|
The girl told Sheba that the previous week she had seen her father take a knife and attack her mother at 3 am in the morning. After the assault he had run away and has not been seen since.
And yet the girl came to spend time with us at the VBS. And her mother came, a sad woman with the bandage on her neck, to see her daugther perform on the last day.
Who are we to help children like this? Whatever we do seems so pitifully limited when weighed against the vast sum of suffering and sorrow that so many of the kids have gone through.
But we take hope from the words of Scripture which tells us that our God is a God of all comfort: "who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." At the end of the day, it's not us - but Him working through the simple steps we take, the simple opportunities to touch lives and shape futures.
The prayers of the little ones touch the heart of a great compassionate and just God.
We don't have a quick fix for the woman who came to see her daughter. But we are so glad she came. And so glad her daughter was with us for these five precious days. And are so totally convinced that we have hope despite being in some very dark days.