Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The lost get found

Providence church from North Carolina put on a VBS for around 130 street children a few weeks back. To say that it was wild would be an understatement. It was crazy! But it was a beautiful time as well. For one week 130 street children were able to sleep in a bed, eat 3 big meals a day, go swimming, play games, and hear and experience the love of Christ. They were able to be carefree kids! 

(Thank you Lauren for the pics) some of the boys about to swim

The dining hall

When working with street kids, you are not working with ordinary children. You are working with kids who's hearts are breaking on a constant basis. You are working with kids who have to do whatever they can do to simply survive.

 They are hungry, so they learn to steal. They are oppressed, so they learn to mistrust.  They are dirty, so they learn to blend in. They are beaten, so they learn to fight.  They are also hurt and sexualized and because of this, they do it to each other. It feels so overhwhelming and scary every time we bring a new boy into the home. Exciting yes, but overwhelming to. I don't want any child to come into our family who will hurt my other boys. It is only the Holy Spirit who can guide, we have to rely on God so much because every child in our street programs deserves a home! 

When going to camp, there was a boy that God had placed on David's heart named Ibra Mawanda. Ibra is 9 years old and nicknamed Engineer because he wires the different broilers and business' electricity in Wandegeya, the area that he lives. I hadn't gotten to know him very well but on our way to camp, I promised David that I would keep a close eye on him, pray for him, and if I felt he was going to be safe to the other boys in the home, that we would bring him home. 

As soon as the street kids arrived at camp, they whooped and shouted and did cartwheels and flips on the ground- running around and hugging and high-fiving everyone. They were soooo wild! We rounded all of the kids up into the main hall and tried to calm them down. They shouted, banged chairs, got into fist fights and wouldn't listen to anything. I wasn't paying attention however but was looking around for Ibra. "God" I prayed silently, "If Ibra is the one you want to bring into our family, please put him on the forefront of my heart and mind, please make is so clear to me." I opened my eyes and realized that as all the other boys were dancing/fighting/screaming around me, there was one boy directly in-front of me who was sitting quietly, facing serenely ahead watching David as David tried to calm the other boys down. Yep, of the 130 boys in the room, that one child sitting in-front of me was none other than Ibra. The uncles failed at calming the boys down so they gave them 3 minutes to shout and make as much noise as they could. The kids bursting with excitement and happiness screamed and began running around with chairs high in the air. Ibra smiled happily and swung his legs around. 

For the entire camp I watched him as carefully as I could. Ibra loved to swim. On the second day I was in his group. As the boys neared the water they all stripped off all of their clothing and raced into the water. The swim instructor, John, wanted to lay some ground-rules first so he began telling them to get out. At the first request Ibra stood straight up and marched out, plopping into the sand and beginning to build a sand castle. All of the other kids needed quite a bit more... coaxing. 

The entire week Ibra never drew any attention to himself but in his quite serenity played by himself and sought out David every chance he got. He had attached to David and although he never fought for his attention, he would silently try and hold it whenever he could. Kids know when you love them. They know deep down in their soul when you truly love them and see them as unique and lovable, even in a sea of other children. It creates a very deep bond. Ibra has that bond with David. 

I remember one night as the other kids were being rowdy, Ibra finding a spot by himself and laying out all of the leaves, rocks, bugs, and a bird-nest that he had found, as a former collector of small dead and interesting things, it reminded me so much of myself. 

Ibra swam every chance he got. On the second day his shorts were stolen, so he wore his new shirt as a skirt around his waist. Two days later, that shirt was stolen as well, so he went around with nothing but a t-shirt. Bless his heart, he never even complained. The day before camp was ended I knew that Ibra needed to come home with us. God had most definitely but him on David's heart, and now He had put him on mine as well. We sat Ibra down and asked him if he wanted to come into our forever home. Being resettled with his biological family was completely out as he was horribly physically abused there, as scars on his body show and then told to leave. Ibra's face lit up for a second at the question before fading again as he said yes, he would like that so very much. It sounded good, but like all street children, it's hard to trust it unless it actually comes true. 

The next day, the last day of camp, as the kids were in their activities, David went out to search for our beautiful Ibra as I sat with my dad, Nora, and Micah hidden behind a corner in our vehicle. It felt like a secret operation as we hid there. We didn't want the other boys to see as we knew they would feel terrible that Ibra was going home and they were not. David searched until he finally found him and walked him slowly behind the dining room to our car. Ibra got in wearing nothing but his shirt and ducked down with a serious look on his face. The moment we rounded the corner and he could sit up he began beaming, a smile spread ear to ear across his face. I told him again about his new home, family, pet dog, that he would have his own bed and go to school. He sat in a daze smiling out the window. My heart felt so happy that it hurt in my chest. 

 When Ibra showed up with Mama Joyce (who met us in town and took him to get all his clothing and everything he needed) at the forever home, the other boys raced out of the living room shouting, "Our brother is here! Our brother is here!!!" They cheered and ran up and gave him a hug, carrying his things inside for him and showing him his room and how to do things. That night we had cake and soda and speeches about how happy we were to have Ibra home with us. 

When I asked Ibra the next morning what he thought of his new home he said, "This place is so good. Everyone is so happy that I am here."

And that is exactly how it should be. 

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.
Psalms 68:5-6

I know that I write a lot on the boys in the street programs and on God choosing them and bringing them home. But somehow the concept of the lost child being found, of the orphan having a home, just pulls at my heart in an unexplainable way. It is the best thing about the ministry that we do. It's as if you have been holding your breath for a very long time, and you can finally let it out again. 

The boy you love. 

He is found
 he is safe
 he is home.

Family Photo, Ibra is the one in the tan shirt and the small logon on the front with his arms up

Some of the boys

1 comment:

  1. WOW! Yippee Jesus! what a testimony to the leading of the Holy Spirit! God is so good and faithful! Thank You for what you do! I pray some day I can meet you in person in Uganda! Janet