Saturday, August 24, 2013

Brown Eyes...

And they just kept coming, pouring in the little gate, covering the archaic playground equipment like ants on a wet lollipop. There were kids everywhere. I'm not sure what we expected, pulling up to the church at ten past one, VBS starting in 20 minutes. It had been hard to tear ourselves away from Luz's home.

I scrambled out of the back of Pastor Modesto Martinez's red, roll-barred puck-up, along with most of Luz's family and half a dozen others that had hopped in along the way. I raced up the stone stairs to change into some less disheveled clothes. To give you a taste of the morning, imagine being coated in sunscreen, dipped in extra-strength insect repellent, and rolled in dust!

It had fallen to me to direct the be the ringmaster...of this VBS at the little church in Villa Verde. A church this size in the US might, on a great day, attract 15-20 kids for VBS. As I choked down the lunch prepared for us by the women of the church, I noted that this church, with no banners, advertisements, radio ads, or decorations, had drawn around 250.

The bug spray, the sunscreen, the bumpy ride in the trunk bed from Luz's house, and the swallowed lunch swam sickeningly in my throat as I joined the rest of our group at the table of honor prepared for us in front of the crowd. Swarms of children began assembling in tiny plastic chairs--the plastic chairs soon stacked to the side as it became clear that the number of children exceeded the number of chairs! Mothers nursed their babies in the back.
As the program began, my heart went out to Luz, who was called on to lead the children in prayer. Her voice was confident, brave...
The team was introduced...I was called up to lead...why on earth had I come to do this?

300 pairs of brown eyes stared back at me.
Each pair of eyes represented a relationship. According to all reports, we were the first sponsors to visit this project in ten years. We represented sponsors around the world to a generation of children and their parents.

Each pair of eyes represented a life. A life so precious, so valuable to God. And in a rush I knew what I was doing again. These little children, little lives, had grown up in the lie of poverty, the lie that tells them every day that they don't matter. The lie is perpetuated when they are hungry and can't eat, sick and can't get help, abused and left to fend for themselves.

Suddenly, it all made sense--the suitcases full of random items (like jumbo marshmallows and coffee filters), my unaccountable willingness to sing and dance like a crazy person in front of 300+ people--

This week of Vacation Bible School was about telling kids that they God and to us as sponsors.

We dove in head first. It was a crazy experience...there were so few of us and so many of them...but we did the best job we could do..

We delighted in their art projects.

We got silly with them.


We taught them new things.

We shared treats.

We made connections.

We looked for opportunities to seek out relationships.
We took every opportunity, every moment, to show these children how special, how valuable, and how precious their lives are!
It occurs to me that every day of my life should be spent this way...telling the people in my life that they matter, that they are valuable, that they are beautiful, that they are precious. I should say it not only with my words, but also with my behavior. I should live each moment fully engaged, searching for opportunities to let people know that I love them--for no other reason than that my God loves them.

When is the last time you took a moment to pour this kind of encouragement on someone in your life? Who needs to hear words of affirmation breathed over their existence? I challenge you to seek out someone...or lots of someones...and share a word of kindness...because the "you don't matter lie" is not just for the poor. It hits us all hard. We all need to know that we matter.

I am thankful to these precious children for reminding me of this truth...blessed by their hunger to receive the small gifts that we offered. Somehow, I like to think of myself reflected in their beautiful brown eyes.


  1. This is such a beautiful post, and what an amazing experience this must have been! I sponsor three children with World Vision (two in Albania, one in So. Africa), and am really hoping to visit them soon!

  2. What a wonderful reminder. And thanks for sharing your experience!!