I woke Allan up in the morning with a cup of hot tea and bread. He flashed his pearly whites at me. We had a big day ahead of us. I was overjoyed at the responsibility of turning a street kid into a son. There were many things to do, hair-cut, doctor, shopping and lots of time to give love.
By this time Allan had started loosening up a bit and he didn’t hold his joy back. The kid is quiet, but I’m telling you, his smiles light up my heart. After his haircut we decided to join the team in their adventures for the day. After doing so, it was time to go shopping. Allan picked out his bed, blanket and we got him some Vaseline to make his head nice and shiny.
The time was drawing closer to the moment that we would take him…home. My heart was racing as my thoughts turned to wonder. What was he thinking? Knowing I wouldn’t get an answer other than “good” I tried anyway to no avail. I reached around his shoulder and placed my hand on his chest. A heartbeat never lies. Allan’s heart was racing faster than mine.
We rounded the corner and walked to the fifth door on the left, the door that I planned on him walking through every day. Meshack’s mama was sitting on the bed. The room has no light so I could only see the whites of her eyes and her white teeth.
Next, I insisted that we take Allan around the small village to meet some friends. On our way back to the house I realized that it was getting late and Meshack’s Mama wasn’t cooking dinner. “Meshack, has Mama already eaten?” I asked.
His smile faded to a terrifying look of confusion. “There is no food.”
Devastated at the thought I asked, “How often does your mother eat?”
Head down he said, “Only when I can bring food.” Each word was like a ton of bricks falling on me. “Marisa, I have no job.” I looked at him in disbelief. As I tried to process what he was telling me I heard my teammate Sharon, who was video taping the happy homecoming whisper aloud, “If he doesn’t have food, he’ll go back to the streets and sniff glue.”
There are countless cultural things that I do not understand about this beautiful country. But at this moment I did understand one thing and that is, it is very dangerous for a street kid to come off the streets and then have to go back. He could be killed by the other kids, endure beatings from the older street men and it is almost certain that he will become hard, hate the ones that took him out and never trust anyone who would try to help him in the future.
The boys sniff glue because it curbs their hunger. They are also able to get food by picking through the trash. Allan could have all the love and comfy beds in the world, but if there is no food, he will do what he has to do. A 12 year-old cannot comprehend the good attempts of a missionary or the dangers of going back. And at this very moment, all of these serious threats stood before me as a haunting mirror.
Allan’s life is in the balance because of miscommunication. I assumed that a man who says he is going to take a child in would be able to provide for him. Meshack assumed that an American would sponsor him. He did not have the means to provide food for him. He doesn’t even have enough food for his expecting wife. Both of us have moved in faith and compassion for this child with no intentions of doing any harm and yet the consequences are screaming at us. Did we move in presumption or was it faith?
“Oh, God. What have I done?” I asked. I walked through the open doors. I extended my hand as if it were Jesus’. Will I let the fear or real consequences change the faith that I had when I delighted in God about how He chose Allen?
Today I hold Allan’s life in my hands. I don’t have the money to support him myself. All I have to steer this ship is the peace of God that drives me with a perseverance that is not my own. There is no way to tell what the last sentence of Allan’s story will read, but I do know this: “With this in mind we constantly pray for you that our God may count you worthy of his calling and by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.” 2 Thes 1:11
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Dear blog readers: In a few days, I intend to wire some money on behalf of the Barnes family to Marisa to give to Meshack to help care for Allan. If you would like to join us in this, please email me and let me know. You can send money by credit card here (we will apply all donations to the Kenya base to this need tomorrow unless otherwise specified). I’ll let you know how this story plays out.