During our time in Whanganui, New Zealand we had the amazing privilege of working with an after school program for kids between the ages of six and nine. For a whole month, we would visit the school twice a week and perform a short, funny skit or act out a Bible story for the children. We would play a variety of planned games, which would usually end up as a game of touch rugby.
Because of my injury, I wasn’t able to be involved in most of the games. That meant a lot of sitting in the playground and watching everyone else run around, but, fortunately, I wasn’t the only one sitting on the sidelines. Sitting there beside me was an adorable little boy, who totally melted my heart. Each time we visited the school, he would goof off with me and run around where I was sitting, steal my crutches, play with my hair, and then, once it was time to leave, he would give me the best hugs.
We didn’t really speak until the last day my team visited the school, but what God showed me through that conversation completely wrecked me.
On our last day at the after school program, I sat in my regular place in the playground but quickly noticed that my usual companion hadn’t joined me. When I looked for him, I found him sitting across the yard, clearly trying to distance himself from everybody else. I knew that I didn’t want to leave without getting to chat with him, so I left the playground and joined him. When I sat down with him, his usual laughter and silliness was gone, and I found myself sitting beside a very sad little boy. I asked him about his day, and he said that they’d made Mother’s Day cards, so I asked him to tell me about his mom, and he said simply that she was nice.
I then asked him about his dad and he said four words that broke my heart, “I don’t have one.”
At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to show him just how very much he was loved by the Father, even though He isn’t an earthly one. So, I told Samuel about how God had sent Jesus to save us and how Jesus had died and rose again, so that we could be in relationship with God. Then I told him how God loved him personally and wanted that relationship with him. Unfortunately, our time ended there, and we had to say goodbye to all those precious little ones for the final time.
Driving away from the school, I was amazed by the amount of love I felt for these kids I’d only seen a handful of times.
I couldn’t believe how heartbroken it made me to say goodbye. Then I heard the voice that’s recently become familiar say, “That’s how I feel too.” That statement rocked me to my core because I had a new understanding of the kind of love and heartsickness our Father has whenever one of His children is hurting or chooses to say goodbye to Him. I realized that the love I felt for the little boy after getting to know him was only a small taste of the love that God has for all people, even those who haven’t glanced His direction yet. And because of that love, He’s pursuing them with persistence, so I get to play a part in that story by sharing Him with the people I encounter.
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