About twenty years ago, I had a team of Asbury College students in Jamaica on Christmas break. We were taking much needed clothing and shoes to several children’s homes on the north side of the island. We planned to spend a day at each home playing with the children and having a Christmas party. Each child would receive some clothing, a pair of shoes, a toy, and some candy. What a joy to share the Christmas story, sing Christmas carols, and give each one their presents. For most of the children, this would be the only Christmas gifts or celebration they would experience.
One day while the college students were sorting clothing and wrapping gifts, I made a trip to a remote children’s home to be sure they were expecting us. I started my journey in the town of Highgate, where we were staying. The narrow winding road led up a steep grade for several miles toward the top of the mountain. Pringle Children Home was situated near the very crest of the mountain. Even though Jamaica has tropical temperature year around, the higher elevation and prevailing wind makes it cooler than almost any place on the island. When I stepped out of the car, I shivered against the cold.
I was surprised when children and staff did not immediately surround the car. They don’t get a lot of visitors at Pringle. On previous visits there, excited children had besieged the car before it stopped rolling. This time I didn’t see anyone. The place seemed to be deserted. I called out and heard no answer. This was strange, almost eerie. I walked through the empty main building and stepped out the backdoor. It was there I heard a scraping sound in the backyard. Sitting on the ground not far away was an adolescent girl. She had her back to me. She was scouring a large cooking pot with sand. “Where is everyone?” I asked. “Where are the children? There are no children here.”
The girl, with steady gaze, was looking across the way perhaps a half-mile, to another rise. My eyes followed the direction of her gaze. I could see children dashing about and could faintly hear their laughter. The Pringle Home children had been invited to participate in a field day at the local government school. As I started to leave, the girl stopped scouring and turned around. I could see deep sadness in her dull eyes. She was mentally deficient and had been left behind. She spoke in halting speech, as if to hold me there for another moment. “Sir, I’m a children.”
Those words still burn in my mind. How many times have I looked across the way and neglected to see one at my very feet. We often rush to serve a larger population or in a distant place. However, someone like this precious child may be right in front of us longing for our attention. Can you hear her soft voice? I still hear her saying, “Sir, I’m a children.”
Lord, give us the grace and wisdom to minister “to the least of God’s children.”
~ Brother Roy