September 28, 2009

Boys Will Be Boys

I read a book last year by Vernon Brewer called Children of Hope. Vernon is a missionary who runs the organization World Help, which helps orphans and needy people all over the world. When I began reading the book the first time, we had just started contemplating adoption. I had a million questions at that point. Mostly about what would our child be like. How would it be raising a child from another country, another race. An excerpt from that book spoke to me so profoundly that I pull it out and reread it pretty frequently. At this point in the book, the author is in South Africa and is reflecting on how at one time he was ignorant about just how widespread the suffering was from AIDS and extreme poverty. He goes on to explain how his thinking shifted. He says:

"I now know that behind every number is a person with a beating heart and desperate soul. Those of us fortunate enough to live in a nation that's not completely engulfed by AIDS sometimes have a hard time understanding or relating to those who live so differently than us. After meeting child after child in despair, I began to think: 'What a different world from mine.' But then something happened that changed my mind and heart.

A railroad track ran near the building where we were meeting. Right in the middle of our visit, we could hear the deep rumble and piercing horn of an approaching train. Boys from across the compound began running to the fence. They lined up with excitement, hooking their fingers into the chain link fence and watching the mighty train rush past. They laughed and gestured with glee as it roared by. Their excitement brought a smile to my face as I remembered the same reaction to trains from my own children and grandchildren. Boys will be boys- no matter if they were born in Lynchburg, Virginia, or Markman Township, South Africa.

As I watched them, I saw these children for who they were, children just like my own. They are boys and girls like those we love. They feel, they love, they hurt- just like you and me. The only difference is their families and communities are living with a plague that devours all they hold dear."

I can't begin to say how this changed me. Kids are kids, no matter where they come from. They all want and need to be loved. They all deserve to have a chance. And it clicked with me at that moment- at the heart of it all we are all so much more alike than we are different. I'd heard it a million times before, but had never internalized it. It never had a personal meaning for me. So often we focus on trying to meet the basic needs of kids who have nothing. And they are in desperate need of those basics. But we forget that children are just children who want to laugh, and play and just be kids who can run and watch trains and forget about life for a while no matter their color or where they are from.

I am so thankful to serve a God that was so creative and compassionate that he made children that look like this:

and this...

and this...

and this...

Because as the old song goes, red and yellow, black and white, they are ALL precious in HIS sight. They all have the same sweet, innocent child-like hearts and the desire to love and be loved. And how awesome is that!?

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