Last week, the Ridgeways team met with some of the staff of Koinonia (including Father Kizito and Jack). We shared our hopes for our developing a program for street children, and they shared some wisdom. The meeting went better than I could have predicted, and Koinonia has agreed to a formal partnership for the next six months. Essentially, we will be apprenticing with them, following them to the streets and throughout the process of rehabilitation, learning as we go. So for the next two weeks, I will leave the house by 5:30 a.m., to go and to learn.
This morning, I received a text message at 4:44 a.m. “Wake please.”
By 6 a.m., I was in the still-dark downtown with Jack and Fred, boarding a matatu for Donholm. We arrived at a train track under a bridge, where we found about a dozen boys waiting. The boys at this base are young, much younger than the ones at Riverside.
We exchanged greetings under the bridge as a boy of about six years chased a locust near the train tracks.
We walked together to a hoteli, for chai and mandazi. After chai, we walked together through the city, across muddy fields, and through a river and a farm to arrive at the soccer fields, which ended up being too muddy to play on.
So we all sat down, and talked. One of the boys stood up to share (very, very rough translation follows):
“I left home because there were a lot of problems. I never wanted to be here on the streets, but there were a lot of problems at home. It was very bad. When I got to the street, I began fighting and stealing. But since our teacher here has come, and told us about God, I don’t do those things any more. Now, we help each other and care for each other. When one of us is sick, the others can take care of him. Soon, I hope to be off the streets. One day, I will be able to change the world. I will be able to read! I want to learn to read. And when I’m grown, maybe I will even drive a car like those ones there (pointing to the road) (other boys laugh and clap). ”
And it’s true. Next week Koinonia plans to rescue most of these boys from the streets. They will spend a year in a halfway house, preparing to reunite with their families if it is possible, and to return to school. They will sleep in beds, with blankets and wear shoes every day. It is a good thing. A miracle, even.
As we walked back to the base, the boys noticed that my chacos were coated in about 5 inches of thick mud, making it difficult to balance on the rocky path. They insisted that I come to the edge of the lake.
“They want to wash your shoes,” Jack laughed.
And they did. What a humbling image of God’s love and care for us. Despite my loud protests, the boys continued, laughing. Three street boys, two of them who didn’t even own shoes, washing my sandals in the lake, and using a small rag to wash my feet. “We want to wash your feet.” they insisted.
“Like Jesus?” I asked?
“Yes! Like Jesus!”
I was humbled to joyful tears. I have a long way to go, and these boys, they have a lot to teach me about love, and about our Lord.
Thank you, Jesus.