To you, the 15 year old boy who stood afar for the first couple days just staring from a distance. You looked so afraid; you looked so cold and hungry outside. You were afraid, but still standing, hoping that someone would come get you.
I heard you even though you never said a word.
My daughter Jillian persisted that you needed someone to go get you, so we stopped our worlds and daily we stepped out of the program to reach you.
You ate twice as much as everyone else, but we didn’t care. In fact we slipped you a loaf of bread on your way home sometimes. Our entire team not only fell in love with you, but our eyes well with water even now to see what happened in only two weeks.
You came and trusted us. You begged us not to go to your father; little did you know that God had that all planned years ago. I met your father on the road that week and I had no idea that HE was YOUR Dad. I had known him for more than 15 years I think. He works so hard, life has dealt him a rough hand for sure. He struggles with addiction that keeps him bound. I am sure the pain in your broken mud house is more than any child in life should bear. My heart hurts to think of it.
I wondered if you knew that there was Hope! That the broken person you call Dad is just that, a broken vessel who is also loved by God.
You sat and wouldn’t play. You held your head and were so weak. We convinced you that maybe we could ask your Dad if it would be ok to take you to the clinic. Because he knew us, he said “Ok”. You were so surprised! God wasn’t!
We took you to the clinic and got you medicine. The following Monday, your Dad himself brought you to camp with your young brother and he begged us for help! He tried to hide the truth but we all knew. You hung your head as you wore a winter cap to cover your bruised face. Your Dad told us that a log had fallen on your face.
I asked you several times that if you needed help, we would help you. You only humbly asked to bring you to the doctor. That day, we decided that you were part of our community and when this trip was over. That “someone” needed to actively check on you. That you were important to us. You are a kid, you act like a man because you care for everyone, but you are only a kid and you are NOT alone.
It’s Christmas time and all Tanzanian kids get new clothes. However in your house that is just a dream for years. Your clothes hang on you like dirty rags hardly sturdy enough to cover your fragile, malnourished body. We went to your father and told him that you won a prize and we took you shopping. I didn’t want my white skin to shine bright and reveal to the world once again that you were poor and needed help. I could tell your 15 year old self didn’t need anymore attention. You needed love and pride. So our Tanzanian teammate, Monica, took you and your brother to the market.
You smiled and laughed; you joked and couldn’t imagine this day was real. You insisted that you and your brother use some of the money to buy your Dad a new outfit too. Your heart melted me. I knew you were different from the day I laid eyes on you.
You walked into camp with your new clothes on, with nice shoes and you looked me square in the face like a free man-free of shame. I smiled big and told you that you looked handsome today and you blushed through your tethered skin.
Your head started to heal, you got up and started to dance and play games. You laughed so hard one day that I am crying now thinking about it. You knew we were safe, we truly cared. I wonder how many of us as adults have “wounds” on us that make us walk in shame, that make us sit down and feel not safe. I wonder how many of the people around me, are calling me to reach out to them with the loudest silent voice ever. I feel it! I hear them.
I am here Lord, use me.
Let me love like you love.
Let a generation be free,
free from slavery
..of addiction, abuse and abandonment..
Our Christmas camp was awesome!
I shared that part of the one child because sometimes in the midst of big numbers and huge events, we forget to see the ONE and so often that is the heart of it all.
We had a great turn out.
We will be meeting in the next couple months with a team of folks to plan “what’s next for next year!”.
We want to multiply our reach and work with churches to reach their kids in their communities. So this is super cool stuff.
I wanted to thank my friend Sandra West who came from Connecticut to come help us out.
The Omari Family
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