She stood there – on the dusty street corner – alone. In her tattered rag of a yellow dress that was a little too small and too dirty. Her hand in her mouth, not allowing the expectation of a spoken word. And her brown cheeks stained by the tears that continue to flow out of her desperate eyes. With no shoes on her feet, and no hand to hold onto, she searches for someone – anyone – to notice her. But there was no one.
This image – one that I have never seen other than in my mind’s eye – is what I have experienced as “God’s Image” – one that was placed in my mind and heart ten years ago. I’m not sure why this continues to be cemented in my thoughts, but it is something I haven’t shared with anyone – including my wife – until now. The desperation of a young child with no one literally rips at my heart. As a dad – to three girls first, and then adding a bunch of boys to our family through adoption – the picture of this little girl at some unknown street corner somewhere in Africa just tears at me. I am unable to reach out and comfort her, or even raise a voice to encourage someone else to notice her. She just remains there in my mind, as a continual reminder of so many children like her that have no one.
Over the years, I have tried to shake this vision, this picture that nags at me. But I also have come to the understanding that God does not want me to forget – but to always remember. To remember the pain that this young child, and thousands and thousands of others, face each day. In a world alone and without hope.
I’m sorry that I can’t come up with a happy ending to my story. This story continues for so many, and it continues to crush me in knowing that my mind’s image plays out over and over again in stark reality around the globe. What can I do? What can we do in response? The answer can’t be nothing.