Alliance News Feed – Thunderstorms, Street Boys, and Sacred Wounds
by an Alliance medical worker serving in Senegal
The hot rainy season has arrived in West Africa. Hurricanes that hit the U.S. East Coast often begin as tiny thunderstorms here in Senegal. Although the storms here are small by comparison, the damages they cause in our community can be devastating.
A 20-minute rain shower in our sea-level city can produce major flooding, leaving many streets impassable for months—until the mud dries up and returns to sand. Sewage mixes with flood waters, increasing the spread of flies, illnesses, and infections.
These conditions are hardest on the street boys in our city. During our outreach to them this week, my heart—which can be easily calloused to these kids, who are everywhere, always begging, always in need—broke a little.
Two of the smallest boys, who are about six years old and regularly play with and try to steal my medical supplies, walked in and slunk into the chairs, obviously ill. We first sent them to shower (one of the kids’ favorite parts of coming to our center) and gave them some Tylenol®.
We then arranged a place for the two boys to rest on a mattress under a fan, where they slept soundly until lunchtime. This was such a small thing but just what those little bodies needed—rest.
As a nurse, I am often overwhelmed by the wounds I cannot effectively treat, since we see these boys just twice a month on Thursdays, when they don’t have religious training.
Deep cuts, puncture wounds, abscesses, infections, scabies, parasites, fungus—all are the result of conditions these boys are forced to endure while studying the majority religion in our city.
A Beacon of Hope
No matter how many wounds I clean or Band-Aids® I stick on, I can never heal these kids. No matter how much my heart breaks for them, I can never imagine how it feels to walk in their wounded, shoeless feet.
Although we are doing the best we can within the limited context we are given to care for these boys, it seldom feels like it will ever be enough—until I look around the center.
I see the very boys who everyday go house to house with their tin cans, faces downcast, asking for anything—a sugar cube or a spoon of rice or a small coin. They are often required to take these meager donations straight back to their religious teachers.
But on Thursdays, these same boys’ countenances are completely different. They run in the front door of the center, putting down their tin cans as well as the heaviness that comes with their hard lives. Faces beaming, they become kids again.
Clean bodies, clean clothes, patched up wounds, a game of soccer, a generous lunch, and kind faces—all things that we take for granted—are extraordinary gifts to these boys. We pray that they remember the sense of peace and freedom they have experienced here whenever they encounter followers of Jesus in the future.
And may their hearts always be drawn to His love—the One who has taken up their pain and borne their suffering—a Healer who has felt their pain and who longs to give them rest, who loves them deeply.
Recently these words from Isaiah 53 coursed through my mind as I prayed for Him to care of these boys in all the ways that I cannot.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised. . . . Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
“Thank You for Loving Us” is an encouraging report on how six followers of a West African country’s majority religion are embracing the good news of Jesus.
Source: Alliance News Feed – Thunderstorms, Street Boys, and Sacred Wounds