Thursday, September 13, 2012

(Two) Second Chances


Kato listening to music



Now, because this is a blog, and the general impression of blogs is that they are where people are... honest about their feelings and their lives, I am going to be as honest as possible. Sometimes it's hard to admit my faults in public, but I think sometimes it's important.

I love street children, I really do. I love them to pieces. They bring so much joy and excitement and heartbreak into my life. No matter how wild or crazy or troubled they are, God has just given me a special love for street children!!!

The ones that do drugs and fight- no problem!
The ones that have attachment problems and say I love you when I come and then how much they hate me whenever I have to leave- yep, love them to pieces
The ones that are "tough" and aloof- love them too!

But there was a boy in our programs who manipulated, lied, stole and complained, and that child, that child I had a really hard time loving. He drove me crazy! He had actually been in our home when it had first opened. He had been in the home a few hours before stealing a large sum of money from a house uncle and running away with another boy from the home. Once back in our street children programs, if we gave him a t-shirt he would complain that we hadn't given him a pair of jeans too, then he would turn around and sell the t-shirt and brag to everyone about how he had gotten money out of us. He refused to bathe or change his clothing, so much so that all the boys called him "insecere" or "body lice"

It was so hard for me to love this child and I felt extremely guilty for disliking him. I was a Christian- a missionary! I should love every single child in our programs just like Christ did! Although Kato was frustrating, I knew he was really hurting too. He was so shut down. On his request we had taken him back home to his mother. As soon as we got there she told him and the uncle resettling him that she didn't want him, that he should just return to the streets because she wanted nothing to do with him.

I knew that the way I felt about Kato was not right and I asked several people to pray for me, that God would give me a heart for Kato like His, that I would see Kato through the same lens that Christ did.

In my own strength I was weak but after much time and prayer, God gave me a deep love and compassion for Kato. I saw the hurting child in him, the boy that felt forgotten and hopeless.

Kato went in and out of homes, slums, and our programs for over 3 years. After some time, I began to see a slow and steady change in him.

His heart of stone that he protected from everyone that had shattered into a million pieces time and time again, began to come back together. The boy who had stolen from our home became one of the most trustworthy boys in our programs. If I ever wanted to play soccer but needed someone to carry my purse, I began trusting Kato to do it. He would hold my bag/backpack/money, whatever it was as if it were his child, on his stomach with his arms wrapped firmly around it- desperate to prove himself and to show that he was a good boy. He knew that he had a special place in my heart.

Kato lost the small glitter of hope that used to be in his eyes, and although he was sinking, he put his trust and love in a God that radically changed his life.

God put Kato on my heart as well as others in our ministry and on Monday, Mama Joyce (my mother-in-law the mama of the younger boys home) came to Kivulu to tell him that he was coming into our home. The moment he was told this and he saw me he came running up to me and nearly knocked my over with a hug of excitement.

"Auntie Babirye! Auntie Babirye! I AM GOING HOME! I AM GOING HOME TODAY!!!" Kato shouted jumping up and down.

"I know Kato, I am so happy for you! We love you so much, and God loves you so much and we want you to be home with us!"

He then looked at me seriously and said,  "Auntie Babirye, back in the day, when I went into the home, I stole a lot of money and I did a lot of bad things that I shouldn't have but I am not like that anymore..."

"Kato" I told him, "That was in the past, all of those old things, we are putting them behind us, we are throwing them away forever. In Christ you are a new creation, you are a new, a good boy, and that is the boy that we know now. Kato what are you?"

He looked up at me with a grin, "Auntie, I am a new boy"

"That is right Kato, and I know that you are going to be good mannered, because you are a good boy."

Kato just looked at me and grinned with the biggest smile that I have literally ever seen on his face. He had something there that I have never seen before on him, joy. Pure joy!

It reminds me of the parable of the lost sheep. I KNOW that there is rejoicing in heaven of one boy who first found his way to Christ who then showed him into a home.

There was a second boy that we also brought home that day. A tattered, quite boy in a huge blue shirt. Enoch. My precious, wild little Enoch.

Enoch was in the home only a few weeks before all of the trauma he had gone through caught up to him. Unable to cope with his past without drugs, he had run back to the streets. It was a long road, and it took a long time, but finally he was able to come to a place where he was ready to come back home. He asked us if he could return, and Mama Joyce, came promptly to pick him up. With tears glistening her eyes she told me how much she loved him and how she had prayed for him as he was gone.

We are rejoicing at our two boys that have come back home! Please pray with us that as God begins the slow and painful process of healing their hearts that they will be able to trust and love and stay home, no matter how scary it feels to risk being loved (because they think they may be abandoned if they trust anyone). 


  1. What a testimony! Thank You for being honest with you feelings Abi! Reading this story made me cry! God is so very good! Janet

  2. This is beautiful, Abby! God is so gracious to meet us in our time of need and give us what our hearts need to carry on. I rejoice that He gave you a special love for such a difficult little boy, and that he is restoring Kato's heart to the child he was created to be!