We were referred two brothers. There's nothing exceptional about that. Our Child Caring Agency gets referrals often. We generally are referred children from temporary institutions who are in need of permanent care.
THIS call was for children still in the family home. These children were suffering immensely at home from abuse, starvation and oppressive poverty.
The city social worker, who accompanied us, had been called repeatedly for help with these boys and had not yet found an organization able to make the journey to their far-away squatter community to intervene. Many are full here.
And what we found there made me wonder why God called US there instead of someone far more experienced in this kind of child rescue. But He called and we went.
|Inside the house|
|Right outside the front door|
I walked beside them and put a loose arm around their shoulders. I rubbed their hair a little on the walk and told them in my very best not-so-good Tagalog not to worry and that they were safe now. I asked them if they were hungry as soon as we entered the car and they both nodded.
My husband asked if they liked Jolibee and the older brother quietly admitted they had never been. Jolibee is THE fast food restaurant of The Philippines and we were surprised that they had never been even once. It was settled. We were going to Jolibee!
The boys were in awe of all the big trucks and buses we drove by. They chatted with each other a little more excitedly as motorcycles whizzed by our car. They pointed at large buildings and exclaimed how tall they were.
It was then that we realized they had probably never been outside their own squatter community! They were amazed at the very mundane things we pass all the time. Their barangay was pretty remote and it made sense that they had simply never left. Our social worker inquired and it was true. They had lived their whole lives in that very place we had just taken them away from.
We pulled into the parkinglot at Jollibee and the boys pointed and marveled at the tall sign out front and the bigger-than-life bumblebee mascot at the front door.
They both ordered chicken and spaghetti and could not sit still as they waited for their food to come!
I have a few immediate thoughts to share.
FIRST, there is nothing heroic about what we did today. It simply had to be done because we drove to where we heard there was a need and saw heart-breaking suffering. We are not "awesome" and we sure aren't super Christians. We came here to help and God is revealing needs. I sang praise songs in the car the whole way to Jollibee in pure thankfulness that God would even use us like this. We are so unqualified in so many ways. But that's ANOTHER blog post . . .
SECOND, don't you DARE call your child over to the computer and show him the conditions of these boys' lives and then chastise him for not eating his peas or picking up his toys. That is unfair on so many levels. You and your child can not even conceive of this kind of poverty unless you've been here or somewhere like here. I never could. In some ways, I still can't. If these boys were raised in a loving family without abuse and poverty, they would probably be feeding their peas to the dog under the table as well. That's a PRIVILEGE. Just hug your picky eater and thank your Father in Heaven that he will likely never have to find his dinner in the trash bag of an impoverished neighbor. You don't deserve your life but neither do these kids deserve theirs.
THIRD, the message stuck on "repeat" in my mind as I met the mother of these two today is "there but for the grace of God, go I". I could so easily be that young woman who made a litany of poor choices brought on by a cycle of poverty that probably started with her great-great-great-great grandmother and will continue all the way to her children's children's children without a miraculous intervention.
FOURTH, if we ever doubted our calling to this country and this particular ministry, today redeemed our call. Never have I felt so certain that God ordained a place and time. He did. He is so good and so faithful and so real. There wasn't one aspect of this day that could be legitimately called a "coincidence". GOD DID THIS. He wanted it done and it is.
They are safe.