Jesus Loves The Little Children

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 (NIV).

Born in a Sao Paulo favella (Brazilian slum) Etyena is one of the least of the least, a little girl who is numbered with the approximately 150 million children in the world who would be broadly called street children. When Luci, a Christian educational psychologist working with Projeto Calcada, first met Etyene she learnt that Etyene was being sexually abused by the mother’s boyfriend …

Because Jesus loves the little children Luci has dedicated her life to loving them too. Using Scripture Gift Missions Pavement Project materials with which she’s been trained, Luci began to counsel Etyene. The Pavement Project counselling helped Etyene find words to tell her story and identify her trauma. After drawing a picture of a dog being violently kicked, Etyene said, “I am in pain … like a dog that has been kicked.”

With Etyene’s trauma identified, Luci used the Pavement Project picture cards to share the Gospel story and apply it to Etyene’s situation. The outcome; Etyene encountered Jesus. A sense of self worth and the knowledge that she was loved by God began to germinate. Healing and emotional restoration ensued. Two years later, at ten years of age, with the mother’s boyfriend no longer on the scene, and the family regularly attending church, Etyene drew a new picture. This picture, unlike the first picture that was drawn in black in the bottom left corner of the page, is full of colour and fills almost half the page. Etyene depicts herself with a smiling face and dressed in a beautiful dress. Standing next to her is Luci and Jesus. The background to the picture is coloured bright yellow, and describing this picture and her life today, Etyene says, “Now my life is full of light … the light of Jesus.”

Sitting on a worn out couch and sipping a small cup of steaming black Brazilian coffee, I listened intently to Luci as Davi, my translator, tried to keep up with her animated and passionate report of the positive things that were happening in the lives of hundreds of children from the favella because of Pavement Project. In the background I could hear some of the kids in the courtyard below as they laughed and played. The joy of the children was in marked contrast to the grime and grind of life in the slum. Ignoring the drug lord’s stooge who was keeping an eye on us from a three story tenement alongside a stream of effluent, I gave my full attention back to Luci …

“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these” Matthew 19:14. Who will speak up for the little ones? Who will care for the helpless and abandoned? Who will exercise justice for the marginalised? Who will reach out to the street children of the world? Hopefully you and I will.

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