Maybe it’s a better thing
To be more than merely innocent
But to be broken, then redeemed by love.
The timid girl in the filthy green sweater and her equally dirty and forlorn older brother have almost disappeared. In fact, it is hard to believe that bright-eyed, confident John and Ruth have emerged from those hollow-looking shells that we welcomed with such excitement earlier this year.
She is a bundle of energy, intelligence, and beauty.
He hugs everyone in his path, pulling many down for a kiss on the cheek.
However, I say that the quiet and grimy siblings have almost disappeared because nothing can ever reverse or completely negate what happened in their past. John and Ruth were broken in every sense of the word. They were fiercely disappointed by one parent and robbed of the other, only to be abused and neglected and belittled by other family members. They were made vulnerable and faced with the glaring evils of the world much too early. John and Ruth’s naïve innocence went up in flames with their home and their mother.
Indeed, one could mistakenly think that everything went up in flames with their home and their mother.
But it did not.
Something did not burn and remained smoldering amid the rubble of their devastated little lives. In fact, many things that at first appeared to have been engulfed by flames and annihilated were not.
The two children did not burn- that is, the essence of who they are deep inside has survived. John’s loving heart and Ruth’s vivaciousness are neither charred nor damaged. In fact, the two are thriving as they learn and grow and reclaim their childhoods.
Upon arrival at Cornerstone Preparatory Academy, John lagged significantly behind his second grade classmates. After just a few short months, he is an A student and is emerging as a leader among his peers. Ruth has shown equally remarkable improvement in her preschool class. The two deserted Cinderellas of Maai Mahiu, Kenya are now part of a blessed and growing school that provides them with a quality education- “the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world” (Nelson Mandela).
The pair has played in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and built castles in the white sand that hems Kenya’s coast. Neither could seem to wipe the smiles off of their faces throughout the vacation, and nobody asked them to. It seems that happy days are here to stay for the two that were almost lost to injustice and cruelty. Ruth and John’s joy did not burn and that is nothing short of a miracle.
But there is something else that outlasted the many hardships that John and Ruth faced. Though temporarily obscured by smoke and tears and agony, Hope remained unquenched by evil and did not burn.
Instead, it was kindled by the flames.
Their story initially appeared to conclude in tragedy, but John and Ruth’s suffering was merely the first chapter of a miraculous tale of redemption. All was not lost when their father lit the match, nor was it lost when eight months of their young lives were stolen away and soiled. It was just the opposite.
The Orphans were rescued out of horror and drenched in love and now they have the world at their fingertips. The coming chapters of their story have yet to be written.
John and Ruth are part of a group of children that has the potential to change their hometowns and their nation and the world. They are part of a group of children that has Hope, and Hope is contagious.
Hope is never lost, especially not in this world of sprawling Evil that relentlessly tries to quench it out. You see, it is only anguish and sorrow that invite redemption. Love is most visible when juxtaposed with pain, contrasting more sharply and beautifully than white brushstrokes on a black canvas.
Many years ago, when creation was lost and distressed and entangled in sin, Hope was sent to us. We found Him wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger, a tiny white brushstroke destined to cover the dark canvas. And the weary world rejoiced because suddenly, in the gloom and despair, Hope was tangible and touchable and beautiful.
And it was explicitly clear that all was not lost.
It had never been lost, nor ever will be because of Him.
To learn more about what you can do to help, or how to get involved please visit Naomi’s Village
Read more heartwarming stories of hope from Naomi’s Village, Left Out in the Cold
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