“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16
Hello from Africa! All the work to get here is done, and funds have been raised sufficient to get me here, and, more importantly, back! I’m in Nairobi, Kenya, working with Tyler and Amy Maxwell in their ministry to street boys. While jet lag is still tugging at my sleep switch, I’m wide awake enough to see the immense value behind this ministry.
My time here so far has been a journey of intense emotion, both joy and grief. Over the years, I’ve heard news reports and read articles regarding street children all over the world. But, first in my preparation by reading, and now in eyes-on reality, I can feel just a speck of the weight of this awful human tragedy. Boys and girls, ages as early as 6 and 7, to young men in their late teens and 20’s, to those who’ve spent decades living on the street. All learning to live by avoiding the swing of club or boot to their malnourished, drug addicted bodies, and roving ‘assassins’ self-tasked with their eradication. They cope with this life by huffing glue. They support their addiction by finding and selling enough recyclable materials to buy glue and maybe a little food. Mounds of garbage provide an alternative food source.
Businesses and neighborhoods disdain their existence, and laud their demise, praising those responsible. Many churches and religious institutions turn a deaf ear to their pleas for food, water, clothing and shelter. Ministries, such as the Maxwell’s, find it difficult to find local facilities to engage with these children. May the Son of Almighty God exact the true and righteous justice we read in Matthew 25:31-46.
I’m sorry if this seems a harsh message. I truly am. Every evening, I sit and consider what I’ve witnessed during the day, and just can’t come to grips with its depravity. These children, literally children, live each day under this oppression. There are many reasons they live on the street, from complete and ‘grinding’ poverty, to physical and sexual abuse, forcing them into an unseen life similar to refugees fleeing oppressive regimes.
I’ll peel open my heart a little: I’m overwhelmed by the immensity of this issue. But, rather than turn and walk away, I’m soul-wrestling with what to do. I don’t have enough money to save them all. I don’t have enough money to save many at all. One thing I do have, however, are knees and time for prayer. We all do. What would begin to soften and change our own lives are prayers that show the Lord we’re pleading the case for all these children, not just in Africa, but the many millions that are scattered all over the world. We can surrender ourselves to do God’s bidding, whatever that might be. Perhaps reading this prayer will help fashion a prayer for yourself to begin this journey with me.
Lord, I lay myself at your feet, not knowing how to be involved or how to reach these children for your glory. The only thing I can really do is surrender and listen. Help me hear that still small voice Elijah did as you reveal yourself to me and show me the desires you have for me. Help me to learn to say ‘yes’, even to things that appear too big for me. Help me to say ‘yes’, even as I stare at the unknown this might bring. Help me to say ‘yes’, no matter what.
By Rich Obrecht