Most of us are broken and yet have a sense of accomplishment for today’s events. We cry. We sigh. We choke on our words as we share. We are gathered around tonight to recount our recent visit with the children at the Bantar Gebang or garbage mountain. One team member, with tears in her eyes, shares her experience of praying with the children, holding their hands as they sing together, and listening to their stories. Today, we have seen God move among the children of this community. Amidst the tears and laughter, these children speak of liberation from violence and healing of their sick love ones. For these, we rejoice with them. In the midst of their poverty, we sense God’s presence. We feel that we have accomplished a small thing for God. To have witnessed God’s work among these Indonesian children is an event we will always remember.
A week ago, I led a group of ten seminary students from our Holy Light Theological Seminary (HLTS) in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. We went to Bekasi, Indonesia, near the capital city of Jakarta, for a week-long missions trip visiting children from the poor community of Bantar Gebang to the middle-class school children of Mahananim Elementary School. Jesus said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me” (Matthew 18:5). I am sure if you talk to any of these seminary students who participated in this Jakarta Mission Trip, he or she will share a new understanding of Jesus’ love.
Below is an example of a story of receiving a child in the name of Jesus. Carmen, my daughter who is a junior at Morrison Academy Kaohsiung, went to another Asian country to visit and help local children. Here is her story:
For our Impact Trip, we went on a missions trip to Cambodia, which was so moving and eye-opening to me. The most meaningful part of the trip were the camps and classes where we got to hang out with the kids. It was meaningful to me, because even though there was a language barrier and I couldn’t communicate to them through words, I was able to learn how to communicate with them through body language and genuine care. For example, I wasn’t able to tell the kids how much fun I was having or how much I loved them. Instead, I had to smile extra big, hug them really tight, and make hand motions to them to say “I love you”.
There was this one girl who was very active when it came to dancing and playing with others. At the end of our last day in the slums, I started to break down crying because I was so sad about leaving, and I didn’t want this to be the last time I get to see them. She came over and hugged me while I was crying, and kept displaying that huge smile on her face. She then grabbed my guitar case and pretended to play the guitar, which made me laugh and feel better. She then noticed a yarn string tied to the case, which was my family’s so that we know in airports which suitcase is ours. She pointed at it, and I assumed that she wanted it. At first, I was hesitant, but I got over that and gave the string to her. The girl then pointed at her wrist, so I tied the string around her skinny wrist. Using the best hand motions I can, I pointed to the string, then to my mind, then pointed to me, trying to say, “When you wear this, remember me.” She nodded and gave me one last hug.
That same day at the team center, I heard that there was an opportunity to go back to the slums, which I was really excited about. When I went there, that same girl ran up to me with a huge smile and hugged me. She then pointed at her wrist, which displayed the bracelet I gave her, with huge smiling eyes. This made me really happy, and taught me that something so simple, like a piece of yarn string, has the potential to impact someone’s life. And yet it’s not about that object, it’s about the relationship.