There is a girl at CCC in Juba that absolutely loves me. Whenever I’m around, she finds her way to my side – sneaks her hand in mine – or leans close for a hug. I overheard the girls talking about how she has claimed me as her mother.
Yesterday at church, this 8 year-old leaned back against me during the sermon. With my left arm wrapped around her little shoulders, and my right arm scratching the back of the girl sitting on the other side, I began to feel an ache deep in my chest. How I wished I could take them out of their present circumstances. These girls live in absolute poverty. They stay in reed shacks, under worn out tarps that can’t withstand the rain, and sleep in the dirt – or the mud on those rainy nights. Their own mothers are alcoholics – negligent – surviving themselves on local brew and food scavenged from the dump. The fathers are not around. Most, if not all, of these young ones have been raped repeatedly. Without divine intervention, it’s only a matter of time before they decide to “take control” of their exploitation and move to a brothel, where they will find themselves trapped in debt bondage to the brothel owner, needing to service 5-10 men daily to simply survive. They don’t have any idea how valuable their lives are – how precious and treasured they are by their heavenly Father – because the world tells them they are worthless, unimportant, dispensable.
My heart was aching because my arms aren’t long enough. I’m leaving Sudan soon, and my arms aren’t long enough to wrap around these girls – to hold them and protect them. They aren’t long enough or strong enough to protect the many others like them all around the world.
As I sat there in church, feeling a sense of agony inside, suddenly a gentle peace settled over me. I heard the Lord whisper, “My arms are long enough.” I had the mental picture of massive, strong, loving arms encircling the vulnerable children of the world – and then the massive arms transformed into a chain of people, holding hands – their arms surrounding the children.
Church, we are the body. Ours are the arms that will hold and protect – all because of Him and through His strength and for His glory. Through our arms extended, He expresses His love. Through our embrace, He heals and transforms.
Yes. I’m leaving Sudan – leaving these children – very soon. But, where I’m going, there will be more children to wrap my arms around. Wherever you are today, there are vulnerable children needing the love and protection that only the body of Christ can give. You are His body. Find them. Use your arms to hold and protect.