Jesus came to earth in disguise. In 30 plus years, few recognized him as the son of God. “Who do you say that I am?” He asked. And the answer came back, “a prophet, a good man, a demoniac.” A few got it right, but even they had their doubts. I think Peter might have ended his declaration with a question mark, “You are the son of God?”
Jesus often told his disciples that he was returning. Wouldn’t it be just like him to come back in disguise? Ma Teresa approached her time on earth that way, caring for the castaways and vagabonds as though they might be Jesus in what she called “a distressing disguise.” I read somewhere about a time when she was holding a dying old man, helping ease his pain. As she looked down at him, suddenly his face was transformed and she was looking at the face of Jesus. Looking back up at her said, “Finally, you found me.”
I want to look for Jesus in his distressing disguise like that.
Marisa Banas, a World Racer, has spent time this past month looking for Jesus in the hot, dusty back streets of Eldoret, Kenya. Her story of an encounter with one desperately lost boy is moving. And I ask, “What if Jesus appeared to her as the face of Allen?” Here’s what she has to say:
“Marisa, do you have a first aid kit? The street kid in the purple shirt cut his hand pretty bad.” I didn’t have one but I was on it like brown on rice. Frantically searching, I finally found one, along with Jessica my teammate who is an Army nurse.
Jess and I made our way outside to where my other teammate John was holding the kid. His cut was deep, filled with dirt, grass and infection. This kid had a serious injury. We had no idea how long it had been since he hurt himself or how he did it, but it was clear that he needed stitches. John and I did our best to clean the wound while Jess went to the market to buy her supplies.
A half hour later, we were ready to give him medical care that would have cost him thousands of dollars if he were in the states. Our patient’s name was Allen, our purple-shirted, glue-sniffing-street kid friend. Three years prior he fled his home due to his abusive mother. He wore all he owned and his prize possession was the empty whisky bottle filled with shoe glue that hung from his lip. As long as that gooey orange substance was in the bottom of his bottle, he didn’t have to think about how his mom abused him, or that he had to sleep on the cold ground next to burning tires that served as his blanket.
Meshack, one of the Africans who has been helping us out this month, came to the rescue and translated all of our love and instructions to him. So there we sat on someone’s porch with a high and hysterical child. Meshack wrapped himself around him, John was holding his good hand, Jess his bad and I was in front of him doing the mama thing.
After two and a half hours we got absolutely nowhere. Chocolate, popcorn and all of the other bribes that we could think of couldn’t convince this child that the 20 gauge needle wouldn’t hurt him. All we could do was wash it out, pray with faith and bandage him up.
I thought about him all night. I had given him strict instructions to keep his hand clean, but really, could a twelve year old care for himself? The next day we went back to the church and it wasn’t long before Allen found me. Jess and I, expecting the worst, were amazed at the minimal infection. Again I went into mama-mode and before I knew it he became my son.
The minimal infection was great news but somehow we had to keep it that way. I decided that it would be best to de-germ him as much as possible. It was a simple thought that changed the entire direction of Allen’s life. The things that conspired after this moment are still miraculous to me.
Continue on to part 2 of Allen’s story here.