Yet all of the impoverished conditions I see pale in comparison to what I see when I visit the Bocaria garbage dump with the missionaries and visitors from Iris Zimpeto. Here live the most courageous people in the entire world. They work daily searching the garbage for food or items to sell so as to tweak out an existence for their families. It is without a doubt the saddest, bleakest place on this planet. But it also is a testimony to their strength and perseverance. Saddest of all is to see the little children who are being raised in this squalor. And it is even sadder to see the faces of the moms who yearn for a better life for their children. Yet as much as darkness rules in this place, God reigns here. We walk about talking with people and ministering to them with prayer and sharing the love of God with them. They ask for prayer for health and for their families, and they close their eyes to receive our prayers. Often tears roll down their cheeks as we bring their needs before the throne of God in heaven. Two weeks ago during a visit there, I was blessed to seeing God heal a woman of back pain and another of knee pain. Another woman committed to turn from seeking the help of witch doctors for her illness. She committed to seek help from God alone and recommitted her life to him. She was immediately healed of stomach pains that have troubled her for months. You can “poo poo” away these testimonies, but had you been there to see the dance in their step and the joy in their tear-filled eyes, you would have no doubt that God heard and answered their prayers. He was, is, and always will be Jehovah-Rapha- the God who heals!
My visit today was a lesson in Heidi Baker’s mantra to “love the one before you”. As I entered the church, a little boy spied me, reached up his arms to be held, and became my new best friend. He latched on to me and would not let go. He was very solemn and quiet. He was just content to snuggle in my arms. This little guy smelled of urine and the filth on his clothes was overwhelming. All the children here are unclean, but this boy was almost offensively unclean. There are times when you must overlook such things and push yourself to ignore your own senses and love like Jesus did. I could not resist him. And once you do wrap your arms around them and hold them close, God gives you grace to pull them in close and love on them. You no longer mind the smell and the dirt. All you feel is an overwhelming peace and satisfaction. You feel the Father’s love for the child.
The time came for us to go out and pray for people, so I told my new friend that I would return for him. The children stay in the church while we go out to minister. When I returned, he was right there waiting for me. I scooped him back up in my arms and found a seat on one of the wooden benches that were filled with children just as dirty as he was. We sat next to a girl of about ten who had big, brown eyes and round, chubby, endearing cheeks that I couldn’t help but squeeze! She was there with her little brother. I shared with her how beautiful she was and how much her Father in heaven loves her. I told her that I loved her eyes and her round cheeks. I talked with her about her school and asked about her family. It was then that she told me that the mother of the little boy I held was very ill. She had gone to the hospital and had not yet returned. I asked her where he lived, and she pointed to the community beyond the dump. I asked her if he had any brothers? No. Sisters? No. Father? No. Grandmother? No. Anybody at all to care for him? No. I was stunned and asked who was caring for him; did he live alone? She said he was alone so her mother took him in and is caring for him. I was immediately consumed with a love and appreciation for this little girl’s mother, who would take on another mouth to feed when she probably had barely enough for her own children. I prayed for this mother, that God would provide all she needed and that He would bless her for her kindness to this little boy. I prayed for the mother of the little boy, that she would be well and would be able to come home to him soon. And I prayed for the little boy, that he would be at peace and content.
As we drove away from the dump, I reflected on the lesson I had learned. There were so many other children that I could have given my attention to today who smelled better and were not as dirty. But God brought me this boy and called on me to love him on His behalf. I am so thankful that I did hold him and love him for the time I was there. Knowing what I know now, I could never have lived with myself if I had turned away from him. I did not choose him. He chose me. And I am a better person tonight because of it. I guess this is what the Bible means when it tells us to die to self. I put his needs before my own. And words cannot even begin to express how privileged I feel to have been the arms of God for this little boy.