Eight-year-old Jasmine lives with her grandparents and several older uncles and aunties in the village. In the three years that she has been a student at our learning center, we have met her mother once and have never met her father.
She is often neglected with very few boundaries in her life, just like many of the children to whom we minister. She does not always get the nutrition that a child her age needs to grow and thrive, and she rarely brushes her teeth, so most of them are rotten and black. We also often see her vigorously scratching her scalp because she has lice.
Jasmine comes to Kids’ Church at our learning center almost every Sabbath morning. She typically shows up with dirty feet and hands and tangles in her hair. Sometimes she will be drinking a bottle of Pepsi when she arrives. So we help her wash her hands and feet, brush her hair and her teeth, and get a glass of water to drink.
She will sit quietly and pay attention for about 10 minutes, then she gets antsy and distracts the other children or does something naughty to get us to focus on her. We know that what Jasmine needs is a lot of love and attention.
When the government forced us to close the creative learning center in April due to the pandemic, we shifted back to online teaching and targeted educational programs in the community. During this time, we did not see Jasmine for about three weeks.
One afternoon, while I was walking through the village, Jasmine rode up behind me on her bicycle and called out to me.
“Hello, Teacher J! Is the learning center open yet?”
“No, Jasmine, not yet.”
Jasmine sighed in disappointment.
“How are you, Jasmine? I haven’t seen you for a while.”
“I’m good, Teacher. Every day I listen to music on my phone.”
Jasmine pedaled quickly and then coasted past me, sticking both of her legs out off the sides of her bike.
“Look, Teacher. I have wings. I’m going to fly up to Heaven like in the song New Sky City.”
“Really, Jasmine? You are going to fly to Heaven? Why do you want to go there?”
“Because I love God.”
At that moment, I almost expected to see Jasmine whisked away into the sky as if God could not stand to be apart from her any longer.
Life for Jasmine is messy. We do our best to bring some order into the chaos that is her reality, and we are starting to see the results. Her simple declaration of love for God, for the King of the new sky city, is a reminder for all of us that no matter how messy our lives are, there is a place for us in the city that God has built.
Critical Project Need
Due to the changing needs of our project, we find ourselves needing to purchase a large SUV with three rows of seating and four-wheel drive so that we can safely and comfortably transport more passengers at any given time. Also, because we increasingly need to travel to more remote areas in our province for ministry purposes, and because frequent flooding and poor roads make driving quite treacherous, we have determined that we should sell our current project vehicle. After selling the pick-up, which is about seven years old, we will need an additional $15,000 to complete our purchase. Please consider donating to this critical project need.