Monday, March 3, 2008

It Was Jesus

It Was Jesus

I was spending a few days with my new friend, Dru Smith, in the Copperbelt city of Kitwe. As was her custom, we would greet the children walking to school in the morning with a cheery hello, a hug, and a procession like a Pied Piper to class. Starved for affection, the children clamored to hold our hands or arms or clothing as we walked up the street. I couldn’t understand why some children simply pushed their little bodies wordlessly against me. “They don’t know how to hug yet,” Dru smiled. I knew it wouldn’t be too long until they could respond to a loving human touch, but it broke my heart anyway.

One day at school a tattered little boy cut some fingers badly and needed to be bandaged. Dru brought him to her house and set about bandaging him with bandaids and extra pieces of tape. He loved the attention so much he continued to find old healed cuts on arms and feet for her to bandage or to simply cover with tape. He was a typical student in this school for vulnerable or orphaned children—tattered, dirty, smelly, and starving for love and attention. At one point Dru left the room and the little boy sat down on the sofa next to me. All of a sudden he lunged his head--hard--into my chest, wanting to be held. I recoiled back. Even now the moment haunts me: Was it the little boy with ringworm and a bad smell I shrank from ? No, it was Jesus. I could have held Christ himself at that moment if I had reached out for one of the “least of these.”

P.S. The next day Dru went to check on this little boy’s cuts. His tape and bandaids were nowhere to be seen. They were, instead, all over his classmates! She rebandaged his finger. I wonder: did he give them all away again for the simple smiles they brought to others?

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