Saturday, March 29, 2008
Overflow of the Heart
Today Joshua told us about a little boy who was at a nearby playground. He told us that he was dirty, smelled bad, and his clothes were worn out and had dirt and leaves stuck to them. Joshua felt sorry for him because he was just sitting on a bench staring off into space while some of the kids mocked him and called him homeless. Joshua ran the mean kids off and tried to talk to the little boy and ask him what was wrong and if he needed any help. Some of the girls on the playground saw what Joshua was doing and also offered to help the little boy. They tried to talk to him and they asked him what was wrong, but his mumbled reply was, "Nee-CHO-ho", nothing. Joshua asked him what his name was and he thinks the boy said "Vitalik", but he wasn't sure. He asked the boy where he lived and all he would say was that he lived far away. The other children said that they had never seen him before and that he was probably homeless. Joshua said that the boy was sitting alone on the bench and seemed afraid or maybe too embarrassed to play with the other kids.
Edna and I decided to go to the playground and see the boy for ourselves. We looked around at all the benches, but didn't see any little boys sitting by themselves. I asked Joshua where he was and he pointed to a little boy climbing a play structure. I noticed right away that his shoes looked too small for him and that the zippers were broken. As I looked closer I could see that his black jacket and pants were filthy as though he had not just been wearing them, but living in them. I could even see the black soil under his fingernails. Right away I knew this wasn't normal for a Ukrainian child. This wasn't the kind of dirty you get from playing outside, but from neglect. Most likely he has parents somewhere that are unable or unwilling to take care of him due to alcoholism, making him one of the many 'social orphans' here in Ukraine. Maxime was much the same way when we first met him. All we can do is try to show compassion and the love of Christ to these children. We're going to ask around tomorrow and see if there is any way we might be able to help this little boy.
What happened next was what really broke me. I turned to Joshua and said, "I thought you said he was just sitting on a bench with stuff all over his clothes?"
Joshua looked at the little boy climbing on the play structure and said, "He was dad. I brushed his clothes off and took his hat and cleaned it for him. Then I prayed for him so that God would take care of him. After that, I took his hand and led him to the merry-go-round and pushed him on it for awhile. He seemed happy after that and played on the other stuff too."
What a simple act of love, and yet it would have been so easy to ignore or even to have been tempted to follow the other kids in teasing. As adults we might not openly mock someone, but how often do we pass by someone who is homeless or an alcoholic and think, "That's sad", but do nothing about it? At the very least we can offer them prayer. I know not everyone is easy to love, but God doesn't ask us to choose which brothers to love. He simply says love your brother.
I'm humbled when I see the overflow of love that can come pouring out of a child's heart in words and in action. Please Lord, let us be more like children and let us be recognized by our fruit.
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart... For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. - Luke 6:45