“Then were there brought until him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14
The first time little children in the African bush saw me, they screamed in terror because of my white skin. Palli didn’t run and hide, but came closer and looked me over from head to foot. Grabbing my hand, she examined each of my fingers. She pulled my forearm to her and began rubbing vigorously on my skin.
“What is she doing?” I asked the chief.
“She is trying to remove the white to find the black skin underneath it.”
Stroking my arm with filthy hands should have offended me. Instead, I saw Palli as a brave, strong-willed and intelligent four-year-old. She had an exceptional personality well-suited to the daughter of a chief.
I started the Wednesday Good News Club and informed the children to bring ten rocks in exchange for a bar of soap. After Palli brought her stones, she sat on top of the heap like a mother hen hatching a nest of eggs. She stood. I counted them and handed her the bar of soap. She turned to leave.
“Wouldn’t you like to stay for the Bible story and songs?”
“No, I only came for the bar of soap.”
Wow! She was honest.
“That’s fine.” I smiled. “Good bye.”
What if all the children only came for the bar of soap, and no one stayed for the Bible story? I might lose my entire audience if I allowed the chief’s daughter to leave. But all the other youngsters remained for the lesson. And more and more children came back again because they had such a fun time. Later Palli joined them.
Sometimes, we should let people, especially children be who they are without trying to mold them into a box. Little children start life with unique personalites and distinctive gifts. Some of them say and do the most unusual, and often funniest things. As long as they obey, show respect, not hurt others or themselves, maybe we can let them be who God created them.
Palli became a Christian several years later. Maybe it never would have happened if I’d forced her to stay for the Bible study.
So let’s bless and enourage them.
Thanks for joining me.