Here’s to those extravagant dreams I dream for my children. I find myself once again praying and dreaming things that start and end with ‘extraordinary’ and ‘significant’. Then I think of Rosie, Jabu, Nonnie, Kea, Lianry, Gabriel, Ruan, Themba, Simon, Koketso, Lerato and Annie. These are little children who live in a home in Pretoria East. One or both of their parents abandoned them, mainly at birth, they each have a disability or sickness and the home they live in is the only one they have known all their lives. For most of them it is the only home they will ever know. The people taking care of them are the mothers and fathers they so desperately need and they are each other’s brothers and sisters. They are twelve little children of the greatest importance.
Yet, in worldly terms, they are incredibly poor. They do not own anything, they rely on donations for toys and clothes and food. There is no money for school, that is, of course, if they are suitable for a school environment, which most of them are not. Most of them can’t move or speak, some can’t hear or see. They basically can’t do anything to win anybody’s affection. They do not reach most milestones. They are not recipients of any inheritance and do not have bright futures ahead of them. In fact, some of them have a very short life expectancy. Little are they known, yet great is their importance.
For they respond with pure joy to every single deed of love, no matter how small. Each second of undivided attention paid to them is treated as the greatest gift. It could have been so different, having been abandoned and in some cases left for dead. Yet, they were brought here, alive, thriving, loved. They can only rely on the unconditional love they receive. Their hearts are spread wide open to the gift of love. They are stripped of everything that this world deems important, as beggars on the street, not defiled by any worldly standard or human opinion. They are indeed twelve children of the greatest importance.
What is it then that gives them this importance? Where does one start with children who can’t do much and say even less? I do believe it starts with the names God called them by here on earth. Rosie means ‘rose’, and that she is. One has to go a long way to find a little girl with a more gentle heart and a smile that light up the darkest of days. Jabu means ‘rejoice’ and his exuberance tells of deep-rooted joy not dependant on worldly things. Nonnie is ‘ray of the sun’. She can only lie still due to brittle bone decease and severe scoliosis , but her presence transcends warmth and beauty. Kea means ‘rejoice’ and he, with only a brainstem, can actually smile and make laughing sounds. Lianry is fragile, yet fierce in her battle. Her whole incredible story will only attune to this. Gabriel means ‘God is my strength’. He is strong and reliable as a rock, there where he lies every day. Themba is trust, hope and faith. He is indeed steadfast and has a quiet, comforting presence. Ruan is ‘gift of God’. He is one who never fails to surprise! Simon means ‘listen’. And that he does. He has a way of looking deep into one’s eyes, he truly sees and listens with the greatest care. Koketso means ‘addition’ and this little baby boy is indeed the latest brave addition to the house where life was lost a few months ago. Lerato is ‘love’, abundant and pure, never faltering. Annieh is full of grace with her way of drawing you in and treating you as if you are the most beautiful creature on earth.
At the heart of their ministries are the simplicity of their presence and the pureness of their hearts. Oswald Chambers says, “At the foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is the genuine loveliness of those who are commonplace. I am truly blessed in my poverty. The true character of the loveliness that speaks for God is always unnoticed by the one possessing that quality. Conscious influence is prideful and unchristian. If I wonder if I am being of any use to God, I instantly lose the beauty and the freshness of the touch of the Lord. We always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring.” How blessed indeed are these little children, that nothing that is engulfed in physical or mindful pride stands in their way of being open to God’s love and grace!
I have to once again ask myself, what am I busy with when I think, dream and pray? I indeed focus on things that are easily seen, such as strength of will, character, personality, to name a few. I think of my own children and the energy I spend trying to analyse them. How I read books on temperaments and attend courses on personality. I think of how closely I track their milestones and fret over any slight deviation from what is perceived as ‘normal’. How I place them in my little boxes. I do believe that, time and time again, I allow myself to become distracted from what I should really be focusing on. Could it be as simple as to just love and accept them as the unique beings that God called them by their name to be? And in the process, just leading by example?
For part of God’s plan for us is indeed, “Blessed are the poor in spirit (those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven both now and forever” (Matthew 5:3 ). This I dream for my children, that they will be blessed in their insignificance so that “… out of their hearts will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).
Just like Rosie, Jabu, Nonnie, Kea, Lianry, Gabriel, Ruan, Themba, Simon, Koketso, Lerato and Annie. Twelve little children of the greatest importance.