They followed us to the rocky falls, chasing after the truck, bare feet running, little hearts pumping—hoping for a chance to see the Americans.
The orphans, dressed in mismatched clothes, torn and tattered, just watched with their almost-black eyes, as we, the “mzungas”, took off shoes and socks and waded in the water. River water, to them, was a way of life, used for bathing and washing and cooking and drinking—nothing special. They seemed fascinated that we would think it fun.
When they did finally join us, they immediately began rubbing their dirty heels against the rocks—almost as if on cue. Seemingly trained for this task, I asked them what they were doing, but they just looked at me and shook their heads, unable to explain.
Seeing that their faces were also streaked with dirt from their journey, my friend Sarah asked me for the white handkerchief I kept in my backpack. When I had given it to her, she dipped it in the water and began washing the dust from their little foreheads…and cheeks… and necks. In a line they sat, so still, faces turned toward her, each one waiting their turn to be noticed, and touched, and loved.
As I watched them being bathed by Sarah, they seemed almost sleepy as she put the wet cloth next to their warm, musky-smelling skin. And I wondered if they would lie right down on the algae-covered banks where they sat. Then I realized that they weren’t tired, they were mesmerized by tenderness; intoxicated by human touch; overcome with the reality of their preciousness.
And I thanked my God, who is the God of Africa too, that Sarah’s hands had become His hands that day.
And I praised Him for letting me be part of it.
And I rejoiced in the glimpse of His grace He had given—through the children, and the water, and the washing—His intoxicating grace that promises Heaven to all who call on His name.
He is our Father, you know. We are His children.
He longs to notice…and touch…and love…YOU.
Because you are precious.
Let Him wash you clean.
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”