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Reach for the hand of a child

It was time for the evening meal. The mission team met at an outdoor restaurant. There were guards with guns along the sidewalks. A hedge of shrubs was all that blocked their table from the street.

After sitting down to order, they began to talk about the events of the day. They recalled as they toured the city how they had encountered hungry beggars. Young “street children” were a common site, selling items to support their families who had little, begging passersby to buy a cheap souvenir.

As the group began to eat, a small outstretched hand reached through the bushes and then disappeared. Halfway through the meal, the soiled hand reappeared only to quickly disappear again. After eating, the team cut up food they had saved into small bites and placed it on a napkin and tied the ends of the napkin together. When the hand appeared once more, they placed the napkin filled with food onto it and the hand was gone. Small feet were heard quickly running away.

If you have ever been out of country on a mission trip, you know all too well this common experience. Here in North Carolina, there are children who are hurting and need a loving hand to lift them out of their darkness and pain. There are children reaching out desperately seeking hope.

Imagine the hands of an eleven-year-old girl, her four-year-old sister, and two-year-old brother. The siblings came into Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) care late in the day and arrived at a cottage just before dinner. The older sister was the little family’s protector.

She kept her smaller sister and brother constantly in her sight. Their lives had been turned upside down because of their parent’s opiod addiction.

The four year old jumped in my lap. She was a bundle of energy and chatterbox. The two-year-old boy clung to the cottage father while the oldest sat watching with her protective eye. All the children in the cottage were called to the kitchen. Standing in silence, each head bowed as thanks was given for the food. At the “amen,” the children grabbed their plates, filled them with food, and made their way to the dining room where they began sharing about the events of their day as they ate. The cottage father helped to feed the two year old under the oldest sister’s close watch. After she helped her four year old sister with her food, she returned to the kitchen to fix her plate.

A few weeks later, I am with this cottage in a church to share about the ministry. After worship, we were all invited to the fellowship hall. The church had prepared a covered dish luncheon. As I watched the big sister and her two younger siblings, I had to turn away as my eyes filled with tears. The little boy was once again in the arms of the cottage father, but not clinging with fear. He now laughed with joy. The eleven year old had new friends and was enjoying being a child. She proudly showed me her new shoes – the ones you helped provide for her. And the precocious four year old was center stage enjoying attention showered over her by several of the church members – she was quite entertaining! It was such a glorious blessing to watch them and see the healing that had so quickly taken place in their young lives. I wiped the tears and my heart shouted, “Thank you God!”

Now, imagine the hand of a nine-year-old boy whose mother abandoned him when he was a baby. His father’s addiction keeps him from being the dad his son desired.

When he reached out his hand, you helped provide all he needed – loving Christian cottage parents to love and care for him, a safe place where he has three meals a day plus snacks, clean clothes that fit and that he is proud to wear. Today, he loves to ride his bike along tree shaded streets and play ball in a big open field beside his cottage. He also loves to sing and his favorite Bible verse is John 3:16.

And, imagine the hand of a one-month-old baby, abandoned to die, fighting for his life. On my last mission trip to BCH’s orphanage in Guatemala, I held this precious little one. His tiny fingers wrapped around mine and held tight. I could not help myself, I closed my eyes and thanked God for the opportunity to love and care for this child. Together, we help children like this baby have life for today and tomorrow.

Finally, imagine the hand of a precious six-year-old little boy reaching out, asking for prayer for his mother who is in jail for the second time. He misses her so very much.

Just imagine the thousands of hands reaching out every day, every year, asking for hope and healing. Come visit a BCH location near you and hold the hand of a child whose life was changed the moment she walked through our doors.

I recently had a call from a dear 92-year-old gentleman who was calling to say he was sending a financial gift to help the children. He said that he doesn’t get around much anymore, but he said he could still help by sending his gift.

Thank you all for reaching your hands out to touch those who are hurting with the love of God – who is hope, love and healing.

I would love to hear from you. Call me at 336-689-4442.

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