BY JENNIFER MESSENGER
DAY 4: Seeing the Light of Hope Amidst the Darkness | Monday of the 3rd Week of Advent| 12.18.17
- Jeremiah 23:5-8. Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David.
- Psalm 72: 1-19. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
- Matthew 1:18-25. The Birth of Jesus
If I close my eyes, I can still see their faces stained with dirt and sweat. The little boy had a small scratch on the right side of his chin that needed tending to. Yet he stood between me and his sister with confidence and strength, determined to not let any harm come to her. His sister’s curly hair covered her eyes as she kept her head down hiding behind her brother. He was just five years old and she was three, yet their days consisted of roaming the streets of Tangier, scavenging and doing all they knew how just to make it to the next day.
They approached me one day as I was handing out food to a group of street boys I had come to know. As we talked back and forth the best we could with my broken Arabic, and the help of the boys I knew, I learned that they were abandoned by their mother when her new husband did not want them. There was no room for them.
My heart broke. They were simply abandoned to fend for themselves, yet they were not even old enough to know how to do simple things like button a button or tie their shoes.
I placed a piece of fruit next to me and the little girl came and sat down and eagerly devoured the food while her brother and I continued to talk. I played games with the group of boys while the little girl just observed. We pretended to be animals and played follow the leader, games that all kids around the world seem know how to play. The boys grabbed the soccer ball I had brought and started playing a game, while I sat next to the little girl who was tired and full. She fell asleep in my lap and her brother continued to play.
As I held her, I cried. I cried because I saw the joy in her brother as he could be a boy for just a moment and have no worries or responsibilities, and simply be a child. I cried because I saw a little girl who felt full and comfortable enough to just relax and rest after walking around all day. I cried because of the injustice I saw for all these street children who each have their own stories, struggles, and desire to be loved and cared for. My life’s purpose became stronger as I knew that if I could help even one child, that would be a life worth living.
That evening, I prayed with the weight of all that these precious children face each day. I wanted to do everything to help, to protect them, but it seemed so insurmountable. I was overwhelmed because my two hands, my heart, all that I am was just not enough. And in that moment, God held me.
I was reminded of the rest that little girl had in my arms and felt an understanding and peace God gave me. I didn’t receive a solution or a perfect answer. I couldn’t just take all the children home with me. But I continued to live and serve there as long as I could. I continued to give all I had, trusting and believing that God’s heart broke for them as much as mine did.
I knew the love I felt for them was only a glimpse of the love God has for each one of his precious children. I knew that though they may be overlooked by society, they were not overlooked by God. He saw them. He knew them. He loved them. And he opened my eyes and heart to truly see them and help them as he provided. I met and worked with a network of people who also lived to serve, help, and love these precious children.
God revealed hope in the truth that he created each person with gifts and passions to serve one another and that through his power and guidance, we are truly his hands and feet. I was there in that moment to allow a young boy a break to simply be a child. I was there in that moment to hold a tired little girl and give her a moment of rest and peace.
The focus isn’t on the injustice we see around us, but on the hope and glory that God sees his children, knows his children, and can use each one of us in any moment to share His love with others.
Jennifer Messenger is a wife and mother raising two wonderful children to know God and follow him with servant hearts. She is co-founder of Legacy of Hope Restored, a nonprofit serving children and families around the world. She started traveling the world for missions in 2005 and hasn’t looked back since.