While visiting an orphanage in Mozambique, several of us decided to have a little foot-washing ceremony with the children. We hoped to demonstrate a selfless and servant-hearted love to them. We wanted to erase the pain in their hearts and replace it with Father’s love. Since it was evening some of the little fellows had already tumbled off to sleep in the dormitories by the time we arrived, armed with water, strips of old bed-sheeting and some leftover dish soap. We didn’t wake the three little guys who were asleep arm-in-arm all in the same tiny bed, but several were still awake and curious as to our presence.
They sat side-by-side on the long bench, grubby from a busy day in the hot and dusty African sun. We knelt before them, gently and simply explaining that this is what Jesus would do, if He were here, and the translator helped us request the honor of showing our love in the same way. Will I ever forget the roughness of their feet, caked with mud and little torn toe nails? How they responded to my loving touches! Tousled heads, bashful and yet hungry for love, cheeks like downy feathers, their eyes searched mine to see if they could trust this act of love.
I couldn’t help but wonder where these grubby little toes had been that day. Many of the children had been rescued from the dumps that overflowed with the stench and smoke of burning filth. Where would these same feet be in 15 years? Would they become the refined and reliable feet of one who runs in the will of the Father? Or would these feet be caught in the thicket of life once more, and struggle to stay in the Presence of the Holy One? And what about these bruised and bloody knees in front of me? How easily I perceived Father’s thoughts when He has gazed at my wounded heart and mused, “Now what was it that caused My daughter’s heart to bruise like this?” And yet He needn’t ask the questions for He knows the answers. He knows our times and our places, and is intimately acquainted with all our ways. As we washed the feet of the little boys, it was impossible for any of us to hold back the tears because all were aware of the dirt and pain being washed away, and what newness of life comes when we’ve been washed clean.
Take a moment today, while basking in the presence of the Lord, and allow Him to wash your feet, and your heart. Allow His living water to break down the hardened places in your life which have become calloused from running your life your way. Sit with Father a while so that He can bandage your wounds. Like the Good Samaritan He’ll be faithful to pour in the oil and wine, first softening our wounded places so they’ll be receptive to His cleansing touch.
“But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. Luke 10:30-37
Pictured is my dear friend Kim Campbell as she prays for her sweet refugee children. This is what love looks like.
Thanksgiving falls in decrescendo of my birthday. That is, the minute I pass through all the stages of grieving, reach acceptance and stabilize over the idea of turning 29 yet again, it’s Thanksgiving. Just to point out that people can change, I’m pleased to say that this year I’m flat out grateful to be alive. I’m grateful for health, and I do not take it for granted.
Friends of mine, Brian and Cody Smith, lead the Omaha Rapid Response organization. Brian spends a great deal of time in Haiti organizing rescue efforts for people who were impacted by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated the country nearly a year ago. Most recently he has been exerting tremendous effort combatting the recent Cholera epidemic. I was heartbroken to read Brian’s account of the newly orphaned baby boy who gasped his last breath while in Brian’s care for just a short period of time. Brian went to great lengths to bury him with dignity. He talked of the overwhelming grief he and others in Jubilee are experiencing with the enormous death tolls, dehydration, and unrelenting effects of Cholera. Whole families pour into the streets to mourn the death of their loved ones.
You know, I just need to talk about this. I do database design and now web development for a living. My daylight hours are filled with data. data. data. By design. That’s what I enjoy, and that is the sort of career I pursued. I’m paid to figure out why stuff doesn’t work, and make it work…in a hurry. While I’m getting ready for work there are days when my laptop is fired-up beside my makeup, and my day is in high gear before I’m even out of the house. There’s just no automatic grid in my life, or yours for that matter, that provides time and space to weep over little boys gasping their last breath of air. And that is really tragic. Because I do weep. And I do care.
Why is it that caring costs us so much?
Whether its my friend Brian holding a dying baby boy in Haiti, or my nieces who have been experiencing poor health, it seems like its time to develop the courage to really care. To get involved. To pick up the phone. To send a card. As a single person, this idea of getting involved with people and families is messy, and fraught with the potential for rejection or worse, being invisible. Families are faced with the very same stability that comes from barely controlled chaos. Caring for someone outside your immediate circle seems beyond your abilities, all the time.
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
I challenge you today. Get involved. Care about the one in front of you. Return a phone call, that email. Make a donation but also send a card. It matters. It could be a matter of life and death.
You could see it in their eyes, mainly, a look of endurance. It was the toll that poverty, drought and sheer exhaustion had taken on a nation. I was on a mission trip to Mozambique in 2002, and in that moment I rocked a baby boy named Tivo. Tivo was part of the forming generation of boys and girls, many born to HIV and AIDS-infected parents. Stricken by war, overcome by poverty and grief at their losses, women turned to desperate measures in order to feed their children. At 18 months Tivo bore all the signs of malnutrition and starvation. Abandoned by his mother, he refused to be held close. So angry at the pain and hunger that would not subside, he held himself away from me rigidly for hours until he collapsed, exhausted into a fitful sleep.
In 2002 the country of Mozambique had not yet recovered from the numerous assaults against its infrastructure: civil war, floods, drought, all amid unbelievable poverty. Nearly 15 years of fighting had temporarily displaced nearly five million people, and one million people lost their lives.
Statistically this appears as sterile numbers on a page. As I walked the streets and visited the families, I was completely undone.
Endless mountains of burning tires and garbage created a haze of smoke that made it feel as if the city itself was on fire. So many homeless. So many with HIV and AIDS. The gaunt, aimless look in their eyes tore at my soul. Since the war had claimed an entire generation or two of men, most of the families were comprised of widowed women. With a disease so rampant and destructive as AIDS, many women lost hope and dropped their children off at an orphanage, then returned to their hovel to die. The young boy that I carried on my back and rocked in my arms for hours on end would never know that I cared. At least, not this side of Heaven.