Not many hours after saying goodbye to our tiny Kenyan friends, Brad and I went to pick up “Jay”. I forgot to mention to you that I was wrong about the Kenyan choir being composed of orphans… a few of them were, but most of them had families. Large ones.
It was fascinating to note the difference between Jay and these Kenyan boys. In my estimation, the Kenyan boys live with EVERYTHING they need — Christ in their hearts, families, love, community. And the Kenyan boys live with LITTLE of what they don’t need — electricity, abundance, distractions, ease, etc. I would argue strongly that their poverty may be one of their greatest blessings.
Jay, on the other hand, lives in the opposite manner. He lives in a fantastic group home in the sense that they provide him with endless experiences, and more than meet his physical needs. Those kids go to baseball games, fairs, amusement parks and malls. They get allowances and are fed three square meals a day, plus delicious desserts, snacks, and junk food.
But the kids at Jay’s home still have no families. They don’t know where they belong. Furthermore, they seem to have little responsibility and are left feeling purposeless and bored.
Perhaps the most disheartening thing is that they have learned that THINGS and EXPERIENCES are a replacement for love. Or, if not a replacement for love, then the evidence of love. Jay pouts and gets upset at us if we don’t let him eat dessert before and after dinner. Or if we take him somewhere that wasn’t his pick. Or if we don’t have time for him to go swimming because Caroline is napping while he’s with us one afternoon. He has never learned to receive the gifts of enjoying a family’s company… perhaps because he’s only been offered gifts of food and fun. And he has never learned the beautiful lesson that it is far better to GIVE than it is to RECEIVE.
Don’t get me wrong… Jay is an incredible boy. We love him. He is strong, doesn’t live like a victim, and handles life better than any boy his young age should have to.
But I am reminded of the great disservice we give to our children when we fill them with THINGS and BIG EXPERIENCES instead of filling them with Christ, love, and teaching them service and sacrifice.