|"Suffer the Children To Come Unto Me..."|
Lalrinmawaii Fanai (Teitei)
Rukam Singh. That was his ~ name. He must have been 8? 9? 10 at the most. Not skinny but lean. His muscles well formed. His shorts, I don't remember their state, but they were on him, covering him. But I remember his shirt -it used to have sleeves on them. Frayed and torn. Green, I think it was. He had no shoes on but neither did any of the children in the village. But I cannot forget him. Perhaps because he was this man-child. As I sat there, taking in my surroundings, a first visit to the Garhwal Himalayan mountain village, he was just nearby, in fact in front of us, busy scooping into a basket, the paddy that had been dried in the sun. The paddy must have been about 4 or 5 kilos. As I watched him I thought with most of it gone into the basket, his task was done. He continued working, bending down, on all fours. He was picking up each single grain of rice that had fallen out of the gunny bag and the basket, each single grain. I looked and looked. Then I walked across and helped him. It was a crime not to. Picking up, single grain by single grain of rice from the ground. He couldn't have been more than 9 or 10. But he knew the value of a single grain of rice.
About the same age as my friend above, the two girls and I, our eyes caught. They giggled, and whispered, smiled and laughed. I said to them "Pani Kahan?" (Where is the water?) They ran ahead, beckoning me to follow. Their empty jars in their hand, a piece of cloth for their head. The two boys were dirty. They could do with a wash, even with just plain water. We ran together towards the spring. Running water from the ground, 'tapped' onto a piece of slit bamboo. I washed and they washed. "More! More! Here, behind the calf, behind the ears!!" We splashed and played these children and I and they sparkled no less than the cool clear Himalayan spring water in the sun. It was beautiful -the way they lifted the jars on their heads with such easy grace... these two little women. They led the way back to the village. They couldn't stop laughing and giggling. Halfway home, it was easy to get the boys to take their turn. So, off from the little women's head and on to the shoulders of the little men. They too couldn't stop laughing and giggling. When we got back to the village they gave me wild apricots they had picked from the ground.
I was reminded of these entries in my diary some 7 odd years ago as I was listening to tapes of Dr. Vinay Samuel speaking on the 'Nazareth Manifesto' at the All India Congress on Church in Mission last year November. '... nothing brings almost immediate brokenness of my heart or brokenness of a person than to see a little child so poor and shaped by poverty, that child knows he/she is trapped. Children by nature are born really free. If animals are born free, how much more human children? They don't know any boundaries at all and yet our culture very soon makes those children prisoners. Millions of children are terrified, no hope of ever going to school. No hope of ever unlocking the wonderful potential they have. No hope of ever knowing Christ with all their fullness of body, mind and spirit. How dare we do that to our children?! Who can know the depth of sorrow the Father heart of God has for the culture that destroy the children? We need to see children of our land free, able to pursue education, able to learn and believe that they can be something, to make their own choices and to reject the religion they are forced into. They should be able to say, 'I will follow whomever I will.' Freedom to the children. Millions of children are out there. How much do we love our children?"
This is to celebrate those who, with the Father's heart are loving and serving the children. May you too celebrate your service? And the rest of us, may our eyes be opened wider and our hearts enlarged. May we cherish and value our children and give all our efforts to '... suffer the children to come to Jesus.'