Yesterday brought us to a school in Majengo. After a brief welcoming ceremony, which included singing children and tribal dancers, I got to meet the child my wife and I have sponsored for several years.
During all this time, various photos of Talik Dalusi have adorned the side our our refrigerator, chronicling his growth over the years. Often not thought of or prayed for as often as he should be. Perfunctory monthly support and monetary gifts at Christmastime.
All of that ordinariness melted away in one quick moment as I came face to face with Talik’s mother, Paulina, and moments later when I was introduced to a shy little boy. Suddenly, he was no longer a picture on the refrigerator.
I gave them some pictures of my wife and me, our dog Roscoe, and our son and his family. Talik smiled and laughed as I gave him two harmonicas and played an impromptu duet with him. A ball and a Frisbee were a big hit as we played catch.
Later, Paulina asked (through an interpreter) if I wanted to see their house. Of course! So we made a short walk to their home where they invited me inside. I felt like an honored guest.
Then came the greatest surprise of all. She escorted me to a place where they had laid a foundation for a new, larger house. “We are building this with the money you send at Christmas.”
Other of my friends said that similar things were reported to them. “This chicken coop…” “These goats…”
It’s beyond comprehension that what to us is a small gift could make such a large difference. That the Lord could continue his five-loaves-two-fish work and that I could have a part in it literally brought me to tears.
Later on, as they were serving us lunch, Talik joined a couple of friends in a contingent helping us wash our hands. As I stood in line, one of his buddies nudged him and nodded over toward me, as if to say, “Look, there’s your man.” Normally pretty shy and reticent, Talik offered me a huge grin with white teeth.
This boy on the fridge has now found a place in my heart.
Finally, the day had to end. We reluctantly pulled ourselves from throngs of happy, appreciative children.
It was encouraging to see the center that is supported by so many in my church having a real impact on the real lives of people. Where once children were taught under two large trees, they now have a well and several buildings. A foundation for a larger church building has been laid.
One of my party noted that it’s easy in America to think that the church is in decline. But all across the world, the gospel is advancing. It was thrilling to see evidence of that first-hand.