Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?-Malachi 2:10
We encountered a sad and disturbing incident. Unfortunately, there is a sentiment that is growing among many in the city.
We just got to the public square where the children were and noticed a commotion. A ten year old boy, Wesley, was in the middle of it. We saw some adults looking at his neck. We enquired what was going on and Wesley showed us his bruised neck. The bruises were actually impression of a hand. Wesley was obviously upset and told us that a policeman grabbed and squeezed him by the neck. A passer-by who had witnessed the whole incident confirmed this and added that someone had their phone stolen and the police were certain that the children had it. They lined up all the children and one of them grabbed Wesley and tried to intimidate him into giving up the culprit. The passerby then told me something that astonished me. He said that the children deserved it. He went on to say that the children have been getting out of hand and someone needed to put them in their place. By this he meant that it was perfectly fine for a grown man armed to the teeth to choke a defenseless ten year old child. This happened during the afternoon in one of the most busiest sections in the center.
I do not doubt for a moment that one of the children had stolen the phone. Even if they did not do it this time, it is not something beyond them. They did not deny anything when we spoke to them. However, their bad behavior does not change the fact that they are still children. If these children were our own flesh and blood, we would not tolerate a complete stranger physically abusing our child, let alone choking him until his neck is bruised. No decent parent would condone such behavior regardless of what their young child had done. However, these children do not have parents. They are orphans. No one looks out for them. No one misses them when they are gone. No one cares if they are gone. Apparently, no one vouches for them when they are physically abused in public. These children are non -existent in all practical sense. They sense this in their souls. They try to assert their existence through bad behavior just like an attention-craving child would do in any given context. This does not excuse their bad behavior. It needs to be addressed but not with hatred and violence.
Unfortunately, a seed of hatred was planted in Wesley’s heart on this day. However, all is not lost. It does not necessarily mean that bitterness and anger are going to take root in his soul. Evil actions are not as powerful as we imagine. These children have experienced much hatred and rejection in their lives and they still are open to be loved. They still believe that there is someone who would love them. They still want to be loved. In other words, they still want to believe that their existence is worth something to someone in this world. Most of them are able to overcome the hatred that they experienced in this life if they can discover that they are important to at least one person in this life.
The Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. Churches around the world celebrate this special day as the beginning of the church. The message of Pentecost Sunday has something significant and powerful to say to these children and teens. The coming of the Holy Spirit changed the nature of relationships. Before this blessed day, the apostles imagined the preaching of the gospel within their cultural, geographical and social limitations. With the miracle of the tongues, the apostles discovered that the Holy Spirit has something beyond their limited imagination. It is no longer of a religious message of a certain people or language. It is a message of adoption. All peoples were now part of the great family of God. All the orphans and widows from all over the world now have a Father who cares and loves them and a family that includes them as their own brothers and sisters.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God-Romans – 8:16
The Spirit of God is poured upon all peoples to testify to their spirit that they are adopted. No one is an orphan anymore because God is their Father. No land is too distant for us to seek and care for our brothers and sisters who are still unaware that they are part of this new family. Our children and teens in the streets sense the longing for a Father in their spirit. They understand that fatherhood is not restricted to flesh and blood. They know all these aspects of the Truth and yet they need to see and experience the reality of this adoption in a clear and tangible manner.
They need to see fathers and mothers who are sent by the Holy Spirit to testify to this adoption. This should be, perhaps, the only and true motivation of missionary work. It is a motivation that can only be inspired by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We can only receive the orphans of this world as our own family members when we have experienced the power of adoption in our own lives. For those who have not experienced this reality would consider it absurd to go out into the world and care for the children of outsiders. They would claim that we need to take of our own first. The Holy Spirit is a generous Spirit. There is enough love for those far away as well as those who are near.
The next day, all the other children that had witnessed the event wanted to do an activity with us. We were surprised that none of them were using or sniffing paint thinner or any other drug. They just sat and colored together with us and asked questions about ourselves. They just wanted to be with us. I have to say that we enjoyed just being with them. This is the first step towards a real spiritual adoption. However, the police were lurking around behind us. The children were a little afraid and they did share this sentiment with us. However, they also felt safe with us despite the presence of potential violence. As for the violence, it is not going to go away. It will loom around the children and teens always. We are always in the midst of it. However, it cannot undo what the Holy Spirit is doing in our hearts.