Have you ever felt hopeless…I mean really hopeless? It happened to me at the end of October last year.
I saw young boys on the streets of Kisumu, Kenya that not only looked hopeless but were hopeless in my eyes. Kisumu is a port city, the third largest city in Kenya with a population of 409,928. There are estimated more than 1,000 children, ranging in age from 8 to 20, surviving on the streets with the number growing daily. Agape Children’s Ministry is one organization that is trying to restore these boys to their homes. I went out on a street walk with two men from this ministry, Abel and Vincent. I was stunned at where these kids live, a dirty bustling city. They are out there scrounging around for food, handouts, small jobs and a place to lay their heads at night. How could their circumstances be changed? They had run away or been disowned. Some don’t even know who their family is so therefore they might not even know who they are. I noticed that almost all of these boys carried little bottles. Sometimes the bottles were just hanging from their mouths so that they could continuously inhale the liquid glue that was on the bottom. Their eyes were dead and glassy.They seemed happy to see Abel and Vincent and were jovial with them, sharing what was happening in their lives and/or where other kids were. We walked over to a park with about 8 kids. The park was in the middle of the city and not well maintained. I was struck by the love these men gave these boys, boys that would most likely stay on the streets for most of their lives. It just didn’t matter. Abel and Vincent just wanted a chance to touch their lives with the love of Jesus and invite them to come and be helped if they wanted to. Some of the boys wanted to be close, to feel some sort of familial bond but others skirted the group not wanting to be vulnerable. As I looked at each of these boys I saw only desolation for their future. How do these men do this…they get rejected more that accepted. If it were me I would cry a lot and probably give up trying. Abel and Vincent are called by God and have been given the gift of patience and love. They look at the fact that they don’t always get rejected, they sometimes get acceptance. That is what keeps them coming back out. They are building relationships and the right to ask. They are hanging on the chance that one will come. Jesus’ love and their own love were shared that day with these ragamuffins. Some were not ready to come. They had new glue and couldn’t bear to throw it out. Not have it to numb their senses and feelings. But three did decide to follow these men back to Agape. It was then I felt the joy and hope that these men feel. It was worth all of the pain of seeing so many boys milling around the city for one to return and we got three!!!
I started hopeless and rejected but in the end I learned that rejection isn’t a sign to quit or not try. It is a reason to keep on trying because you never know when acceptance is going to jump out at you. Use the rejection for the grit to keep up the hard work. These boys aren’t rejecting us they are rejecting themselves. And when they finally realize that they are worth something to someone, Abel and Vincent are there to help them along the path to restoration not just to God and their families but to themselves, to their own lives. Then their future looks bright and hopefulness abounds.