Our family arrived home from Rwanda on August 19, and besides having to recover physically from the jet lag and fatigue that we were experiencing, I think we have all been stunned into silence and contemplation by everything that we witnessed and experienced on the trip. It was amazing!
One highlight of the trip for me was our visit to the “Missionaries of Charity, Sisters of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Home of Hope Orphanage” in Kigali Rwanda. Most of the children in this orphanage experience a developmental disability. They lack many resources that I would consider essential as a special educator, but the sisters do an excellent job of providing care in spite of this. I immediately bonded with an eight year old child who appeared to have cerebral palsy.
He was sitting up on his knees when I arrived, and when I bent down to greet him, he showed me that he wanted me to pick him up. He was heavy in spite of his smaller than average size, mostly because his limited muscle use and coordination meant that I had to support all of his weight. Still, he had many great skills for a child with CP including the ability to sit up on his knees and use his hands. Furthermore, the sisters told me that he had great receptive language skills and could speak some.
My son August helped me take this eight year old onto the teeter totter and the merry go round. August adapted quickly to the hardships of our environment and was a great help to me. As I began to sweat from the exertion of carrying this child, I asked one of the sisters if they had a wheelchair available. They brought out an old worn chair that was too big for him, and that I suspect many of the children had to share, and August and I wheeled him around the playground so he could experience the sights and sounds.
As August and I walked the playground, we talked about faith. August said that he didn’t understand why people lacked faith. Why didn’t we just ask God to heal this boy?
August has a profound faith for a 13 year old, and he really can’t sympathize with unbelief. And his question is a fair one. Jesus did say, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14: 12-14)
However, although I cared for this eight year old child, he is not the boy that I came away praying for.
It is my prayers for August that have changed. Ever since he started school at six years old, I have watched him struggle with social isolation and rejection. God has been dealing with my unbelief the past several years, and especially my reluctance to pray for physical healing. But as my son prepares to start the eighth grade, it his healing that I am praying for.
Consider the following verse: “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” (Hebrews 4:2)
William Barclay comments on the fourth chapter of Hebrews in his Bible study series, “The Letter to the Hebrews”:
“There are many different kinds of hearing in this world. There is indifferent hearing; there is disinterested hearing; there is critical hearing; there is skeptical hearing; there is cynical and mocking hearing. The hearing that matters is the hearing that listens eagerly, and then believes and then acts. The promises of God are not merely beautiful pieces of literature; they are not merely sweet sayings which mean nothing; they are promises on which a man is meant to stake his life and by which he is meant to dominate his actions.” (p. 33)