It would happen almost every morning . . . as most of the team was just awaking to a new day, I would sit out on the picnic table next to the Gringo dorm and watch the kids go to and from the cafeteria as they were getting ready to head to school. At some point within these few waiting moments, three boys would make their way over to where I was sitting to put their arms around me and say ‘Buenos Dias’. I would ask them how breakfast was, in my broken Spanish. Marvin, Manuel, Walter, and a fourth – Yogi, reinforced a lesson for me, as I led a team this month to Casa Para Niños Aleluya in Guatemala. They reminded me of the power of touch.
Many, if not most of the kids at Casa have come from an abusive situation at home, and have been given the opportunity to come to Casa to receive the food, clothing, and education they certainly deserve. Casa is most definitely a place of rescue, rest, and redemption. Though, we as a team, were not there long enough to peer deeper into the lives of these children to see the pain they have endured, you can certainly see their desire for a hug or a hand. We see this example of Christ, in Luke’s Gospel, as he accounts how the people were bringing the children to Jesus so that He might touch them. The disciples rebuked Christ for this, and He in turn reminds them that you will not enter the kingdom of God, if you do not receive it as a child does, with a sense of longing and great faith in their Abba Father (Luke 18:15-17).
I felt this touch again throughout the week, as Walter would come up and ask if I would swing him. I obliged and he would reach for my hand as we would walk to the swing set to play. Marvin, Manuel, and Yogi too, would often times just sit beside me, not needing to speak a word, but rather just to be near. It was as if I had just adopted four brothers for the week, who wanted nothing more than for me to have their undivided attention. I would soon find out that they would have mine.
It was on the next to last day of our time with the children of Casa that I was sitting with ‘my boys’, as I now refer to them. We were playing with sidewalk chalk drawing bugs and butterflies, when I decided to trace a few of their hands. I traced Walter’s and Yogi’s and then traced my own and took a picture to remember the moment by. In that moment, it suddenly hit me that this whole week the ‘hand prints’ of these boys had been all over me – swinging, jumping rope, making friendship bracelets, and coloring pictures. Yet, I realize the valuable importance of me having my handprints on those boys, and what an eternal impact the Gospel was having on them, as God spoke, played, and touched through me, into their lives.
I pray that many seeds of the Gospel were sown into Marvin, Manuel, Walter, and Yogi’s lives. I ask that one day they might wake up and say Buenos Dias, not to an amigo (friend) or hermano (brother) who has visited them on a mission trip, but to the one who has called them ‘friend’ (Jn. 15:15) and ‘brother’ (Heb. 2:11), the One whose hand formed them before they were born, and in whose hand their hearts and lives are kept forevermore, as adopted sons of God.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his on into our hearts, crying ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:5-7
Written by Ryan Martin