Friday, December 24, 2010

Africa Day 7- "The gift of a Bible" (Ghana)

“Jesus loves the little children.
All the children of the world!
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world!”

Most of us know the tune! You could at least hum it if you had too. For me, this may have been the first song I ever learned in life, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Yet, I haven’t heard it or thought about it for a long time now. But, today that song came flooding back to me!

Our first full day in Ghana was spent driving to another remote area of Africa…bumping along dirt roads with our team crammed in the back seat of an SUV. It took nearly an hour and a half before we finally arrived in a village where children were swarming everywhere. I jumped out of the middle seat to a sea of kids half my size….dozens and dozens of inquisitive, smiling, laughing faces all staring at us like we were celebrities.

Not knowing what to do, I started to communicate with a few high-fives. Yet before I knew it, every child wanted to slap my hand. This one. That one. This little one. That tall one. Before I knew it, I felt like I was in a mosh pit! Children everywhere all wanting to simply touch our hands.

We had arrived intending to do a story today about bibles. In Africa, the Bible is a hot commodity. Not everyone can afford to buy their own copy. Instead, children learn from “Quotation books” which are basically paperback books full of more than 800 verses. Yet, you’d be surprised how well these children know the Bible! The children greeting us were each members of their local Bible clubs where once a week they gather to study together. Today, they were holding competitions to see which club member could say the most verses or look them up the fastest.

For several hours, we just watched as more than 100 children watched the six finalists go head to head in all sorts of Bible trivia…in English too! It was truly fascinating…and humbling…to see how much these young children knew about the Bible with out even owning their own copy.

As we prepared to leave, mobs of children followed our every movement…still wanting to touch us or watch us. For some, we were the first of a different ethnicity they’d ever seen.

Yet, someone…or rather, something suddenly caught my eye….

There it was….a small, white lamb grazing ahead unaware of all the hoopla going on around. It looked like a page out of an illustration in a Bible that I may have owned as a child…a lamb like what Jesus may have held…just walking across the path in front of me.

Without really thinking, I asked my interpreter if I could try to hold it for a picture. I watched as the children cornered the lamb, scooped it up and placed it in my arms.

I held the lamb with its little body just trembling in my arms. I didn’t mean to scare it. I just thought it looked so picturesque. Yet, as I held the lamb for the quick camera shot, I knew this little creature was truly symbolic of what this day had been all about. The helpless, the scared, the weak, the innocent. The children.

Jesus does love the little children! And so do we.

The words of that song have never resonated with me more powerfully than they did today.

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