It was time for the evening meal. The mission team met at an outdoor restaurant. There were guards with guns all around the premises. 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. As they toured the city that day, they had encountered beggars on the street who were hungry. Young street children are a common sight, selling items to support their families
who have little, begging you to buy a bookmark or another souvenir. As they begin to eat their food, a small outstretched hand comes through the bushes. The hand then disappears. About halfway through the meal the soiled hand reappears, only to quickly disappear again. After eating, the team begins cutting their left-over food into small bites. They place the food in a napkin, and when the hand appears once more, they place the napkin into the child’s hand. They hear the feet of the child running away.
If you have ever been on an international mission trip you know all too well that this is not an unusual experience. However, it is becoming an all too familiar need around us. Food insufficiency is something we see on a regular basis as children and families enter into care. It does not matter if you have seen the face of hunger, fear, loneliness, abandonment, and abuse many times, it still cuts to your very core.
I ask God each day to help you see through His compassionate eyes, and He answers through your giving hearts. Thank you for your loving heart and your obedience to care for the “least of these.”
Now imagine with me the hand of an 11-year-old girl, her four-year-old sister, and her two-year-old brother. They came to us late one day just before dinner. The older sister had been their protector. She does not let the two younger children out of her site. They are victims of the opioid crisis in our state. The four-year-old jumps in my lap. She is a bundle of energy and loves to talk. The two-year-old boy clings to the cottage parent. And the 11-year-old just sits, protectively watching.
The cottage parents call the kids to the kitchen to eat. They have their blessing, thankful for the food before them. The kids in the cottage then grab their plates and fill them with food. In the dining room, they enjoy talking about the events of their day. The cottage father feeds the two-year-old while the 11-year-old continues to watch closely. She helps her little sister with her food and then fills her plate. You can tell they are still apprehensive about their new surroundings.
A few weeks later, the cottage is with me for a church presentation. The church prepared a big covered dish luncheon for us all after worship time. As I watch these children, I have to turn away, as my eyes begin to fill with tears. The little two-year-old boy is once again in the arms of the cottage father, but not clinging with fear. He is laughing with joy. The 11-year-old has new friends and is enjoying being a child again. She proudly shows me her new shoes that one of you bought for her. The precocious four-year-old is enjoying all the attention she is getting from several of the church members—she is entertaining! It is such a glorious blessing to watch the healing take place. I wipe the tears and my heart screams silently, “Thank you God!”
Imagine the hand of a senior adult reaching out for help as she sits in a sweltering apartment. Just last week, a housing complex near one of our campuses lost their air conditioning during one of the hottest weeks since the beginning of summer. Our NCBAM ministry sent out an “SOS” for fans and water and you once again cared for the “least of these.”
Imagine the hand of a month-old baby, abandoned to die, fighting
for his life. On my last mission trip to our orphanage in Guatemala,
I held this precious little one. His tiny little fingers wrapped around my finger and he held on tightly. Thank God for the opportunity to love and care for this child. Because of you, he lives and has a future.
Imagine the hand of a precious six-year-old boy reaching out and asking you to pray for his momma who is in jail for the second time. He misses her so very much. Imagine the thousands of hands reaching out for hope and healing. Now imagine the thousands
who join you by reaching out to offer hope and healing. I love the amazing opportunity to be on this journey of transformation with you. Being on mission together is such an honor and blessing.
One of the girls here gave me a decorative ceramic tile for Christmas a few years ago. I have it sitting on my shelf, front and center, in my office. I cannot miss seeing it every day. It says, “In Christ we are freed to serve others.” This July 4th, as we remember the sacrifice so many made so we have the privilege to celebrate freedom, let us not forget the most important sacrifice, for it is in Christ that we are truly free!
When those tiny hands reach through the hedges of trauma in search of hope and healing, thank you for reaching back. Your hands touch those who are hurting with the love of God, offering hope and healing.
I would love to hear from you, my friends. Call me at 336-689-4442, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to give a gift of hope, click here. I so enjoy receiving your notes, calls, and emails.
Written by Brenda Gray, Executive Vice President, Development & Communications