Little Ones to Him Belong

Photo credit: Jill Burrows Photography

"Someone cried, 'Where must the seed be sown to bring the most fruit when it is grown?' The Master heard as He said and smiled, 'Go plant it for me in the heart of a child."

I could barely get the words out. "Tell them we can't come back tomorrow. That we have to go home." I struggled to hide my emotion, and was thankful to be wearing sunglasses just then, although within moments they could no longer hide what was happening behind them. His face fell, but he told them. I'll never forget the words that came next: "They say you lie. It's not true." They didn't mean that I was lying-- they just didn't want to believe it; and while my body was exhausted and my arms ached to hold my own two children back home, my heart was inexplicably breaking into tiny little pieces and melting into the hearts of the kids I was leaving behind.

As we sat in silence on our way back to the hotel, the memories of the last week came flooding back. I remembered how it had taken me hours to convince T to bring me the colored pencils that she'd tucked away in her mattress so that I could sharpen them for her. I finally convinced her that I wasn't going to take them away, and then the rest of the girls, one by one, took me by the hand into their own little sanctuaries and pulled out their treasure, watching intently as I carefully sharpened each one. The next day I didn't have to ask, and I ended up with a blister on my thumb from sharpening so many. I didn't care though-- they finally trusted me.

I remembered K's soft smile, and how he hung in the background of the more outgoing kids who clamored with excitement whenever I brought out new chalk or bean bags. He didn't care if I gave him anything-- he was content to simply hold my hand. As we bumped down the road, away from the orphanage, I looked down at the paper flower he had
made me from an old coloring page. He had so little to call his own, yet he'd found a way to give what he had, and in the process had found his way into my heart.

I hadn't been able to communicate well with any of them for most of the week, but they didn't always need words. They needed a hug when someone was picking on them, a shoulder to lean on for a nap, and someone to hold their hand as they sat in the shade. They wanted someone to play with them- to care.

Every single one of these children came from less than ideal circumstances. Some had been orphaned, and some had families who just simply couldn't provide for them. Little T  had even been found in a garbage heap as a baby by one of the orphanage workers. But God had rescued them, giving them a place of safety in a country full of uncertainty. He's miraculously providing them with shelter, an education, food to fill their bellies, and so much more.

Photo credit: Jill Burrows Photography

That week I was reminded that people matter more than stuff. My friend Jill summed it up better than I ever could when she said, "It's so easy to let the day to day responsibilities steal our purpose. My children don't need a perfectly clean house or a Magnolia cookbook meal, they just need me-- to sit with them, to read that book, to play that game or do that puzzle. [They need me] to slow down and let them know that they are more important than all of it." And not just my children- my friend's children, the children that walk through the doors of my church on Sunday morning with their parent(s), and even the children screaming in the grocery store. Being purposeful in my interactions with every person God places in my path, no matter how young, matters, because they matter to Him.

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14, NIV

God used those children to remind me to love what matters, and that making a difference doesn't have to be fancy or complicated. It can be as simple as offering an encouraging smile, a fancy fist bump, or simply-- holding a hand.

Photo credit: Jill Burrows Photography


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