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Thursday, 4 December 2014

The One That Said Thankyou

Jack is 13. He was previously using solvents but hasn't done so for a while. I met Jack when he came to my house with Charlotte(one of the girls that stays regularly)about two weeks ago. He ia always very dirty with holes in his clothes as he is sleeping on the street. Jack accompanies me (and Charlotte) to Sunday school at 9am and the main church service at 1030am. I hope that he would be allowed into our church if I wasn't there to accompany him but its difficult to know as an unaccompanied child without shoes and with dirty holey clothes may sadly be turned away at the door of any church these days.

In church, he sits next to me mostly quietly and listens to my instructions. He tries to sing the songs and looks at the words when we are reading from the Bible (a tough task as it's in English!) He seems to be listening to parts of the message which is a definite improvement on the other children that sometimes accompany me, as documented before. Sometimes he falls asleep but at least tries to stop himself by sharply jerking his head backwards and forwards which tends to make me laugh. Having him there is an unintentional test for the church as some are moved with compassion as they hear his efforts to sing and others (i'm sure) still see him as a dirty abusive street child who doesn't belong there.

Jack is always pleased to see me in the street and rushes forward greeting me with a friendly smile and calling my name. He appeared last week in his holey, dirty clothes with terrible grazing all over his face. He said he had collided with a tricyle (motorised with side cart.) Then I saw him sleeping on the edge of the pavement in the central island of the main road in Cubao. He was just inches away from the traffic and could easily have rolled into it. Later that day I again saw him sleeping alone but in a safer place this time.

For some reason Jack's general appearance and friendly innocence tugs at my heart (more so than normal :)and I hate to leave him on the street but there is no alternative for him at the moment. He walks with a strange gait which makes him stand out from the other children. Last week whilst sitting next to him in his holey, dirty clothes at the end of the church service I sensed his lostness and unhappiness although he tries to hide it with a smile. I told him that Jesus loves him and cares about his life and problems. He looked at me to see if it was true and I assured him it was. I could see he took it to heart and hoped it was true.

There is obviously some sort of problem with his family but he won't talk about it and his friends say he doesn't have a house to go home to.

Tonight he attended the drop-in Christmas party, came rushing straight up to me with a big smile and totally knocked me for six by saying "Ate (sister) Natalie, can I please come to the church service with you on Sunday because of my sin..."

Afterwards, I reflected that although he is probably mistaken theologically as in his mind he thinks of church as a place for confession due to Catholic teaching, maybe his childlike understanding of the reasons for going to church (and needing a Saviour) are more advanced than the masses who dutifully head that way every week. Certainly by recognising his sinfulness and wanting to do something about it he is making progress..Actually I was amazed that a child wanted to attend the main service as I have to virtually drag Charlotte in every week and the others are sporadic in their attendance. Once inside it's often difficult to keep them there as they disappear for 5 minutes here and there to chat with friends outside or take extended breaks in the bathroom.

At the end of the party tonight the children were all given a small gift bag and Jack was keen to show me his as he tied the top closed carefully for later.

I realised at that moment watching him that it was the gratitude factor that had moved me again. Surely these are the helpless and hopeless that Jesus spoke about. Most people we help are assuming and take things for granted. But occasionally there is one that comes back to say thankyou and this time it was a child.

Pray for Jack* I can't stand to see him sleeping alone on the street every day and its only a matter of time before he is drawn back into solvents.

I hope this hymn will help us all to remember what a debt of gratitude we owe to God for having mercy on us. I am blessed to hear great hymns like this at Cubao Reformed Baptist Church week by week.

1. How sweet and aweful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores!

2. Here every bowel of our God
With soft compassion rolls;
Here peace and pardon bought with blood
Is food for dying souls.

3. While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?

4. Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?

5. ’Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly forced us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

6. Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

7. We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice, and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.

ISAAC WATTS