If you saw her on the street, you’d think that’s where she belonged. Though she dressed nicely, for her culture’s standards, she could stare anyone in the eye and make them feel insignificant. She can talk the talk and walk the walk. “Rough around the edges” might describe her well, but she’d tell you she’s hard to the core.
Before she reached double digits in age she witnessed a horror that still haunts her day in and day out. Her father was killed, rather chopped with a machete, right in front of her. Her mother had died near the time she was born; she says she never really knew her. But her dad — she has memories of him, and of being with him, even on the day of his death.
Some relatives took her in after her father died, but she was rarely happy and certainly not joyful. These people viewed her as a means of getting work done. She lived with them out in the bush in their little dirt-floored, falling-in house. They used her, perhaps abused her, and didn’t show her any means of love. In fact, to this day, it’s more than likely that she’s never heard the words “I love you” spoken to her.
She ran away from that little house and all the people she knew. By the Lord’s infinite grace, she was taken in off the dangerous streets and fed and bathed. She bounced from house to house to house, never settling. She couldn’t — she was too afraid to get attached to anything; too afraid to be in one place for long. So she’d gather her things in whatever she could find and take off when no one was looking.
For a few years now she’s been mainly at one house. There are numerous days when she tries to leave; she puts some clothes and other things that are important to her in a big black trash bag, hauls it over her shoulder, opens the gate and starts walking in her “slippers” (aka: flip flops). Usually she’s caught; sometimes, though, she manages to get a far distance away before anyone realizes. She says she’s going home, back to the little dirt-floored, falling-in house in the bush where the people don’t like her but decide to tolerate her in exchange for work. She’s trying to find love, trying to find substance.
This girl, who is now 12 years young, was in my life almost constantly when I lived in Belize. I watched her go through trial after trial, mental harassment and uphill battles. We built a trust, a very delicate trust but a trust nonetheless. We got in arguments, and she yelled and clenched her fists and threatened like there was no tomorrow — because she wasn’t sure she wanted another tomorrow. The other children she lived with didn’t really respect her, yet they saw her as the ringleader and she knew it. When she was feeling especially angry she’d manipulate the others or spout off obscenities in Creole. She’d hide for hours and send everyone into a panic as they tried to find her. But no matter how many emotions she caused others to feel, she wasn’t able to feel for herself the one she wanted: love.
Writing this gets me choked up. This sweet girl hasn’t found fulfillment. Sure, she knows about Jesus and she can give Sunday School answers. Most kids — most people — in Belize can. But she doesn’t see Him as everything. I believe she is a Christian, and that at one point she gave her life to Jesus. I believe she wants to know more about Him, and she wants to be joyful and peaceful. There are days when she spends hours in her room listening to the Storybook Bible audios, following along in the book, laughing her head off at the narrator’s accent and the way he tells the story. She called me in one day to have me listen with her, because she thought the portrayal was too funny. After she and I developed trust, she came to me over and over to ask questions. “Why is it this way?” “Why does this happen?” “What did I do wrong?” Oh, if she only knew!
My heart will forever be attached to this girl, even if I never see her again. It hurts to think that I might not ever see her again. If I could adopt her, I’d drop everything and move to Belize. It wouldn’t matter that I don’t have the means, or that I’d be leaving so much behind. Nothing would matter, other than being able to provide stability and Truth to this girl.
And just briefly, let me share: As I think of that, of her, I realize how recklessly God loves us. How recklessly He pursues us as individuals. I would drop everything in my little world for this one girl; Jesus left everything in Heaven to God and came down to earth to meet US! That parable of the shepherd and the lost sheep? Jesus left it all to find and save the one.
I have one request: Would you join me these next 40 days in praying for her?