Never Left Out
A few weeks ago Joy, my wife, went with a group of nine ladies from our church on a two-week mission trip to Malawi in Africa working in conjunction with World Vision to help bring a measure of help and hope to a very impoverished people in an area ravaged by AIDS.
Joy and I together support a girl in Malawi so she can be given an education and help get a better start in life. This girl, Matilda (name changed), lives in the village where the team was going so Joy was planning on visiting her and taking gifts for her, her two brothers, two sisters, and her mother and father. However, it was explained to the team before leaving for Malawi that when giving gifts to a sponsored child and his/her family, many of the village non-sponsored children—as many as 64—gather around and look on in wonderment and envy as gifts are being given to the sponsored child and his or her family. But these children receive nothing.
When Joy told me about this, I wept. It reminded me of the time when I was a child how my parents took me to a church Christmas gift program for children where every child in the church received a Christmas gift—except me. At the time I felt devastated and can still feel that childhood pain almost as if it happened just a short while ago.
With tears in my eyes I said to Joy, “Let’s do a little something for these forgotten children. Let’s get a simple gift for them too, as it hurts me to think that so many would feel left out.” Then we both cried. It was just a simple idea but with the help of two of our grandchildren Joy took 64 small plastic baggies, folded two sheets of blank paper, and put them with two colored crayons in each baggie.
The deepest principle in human
is the craving to be appreciated.
It’s very difficult for those of us in well-to-do countries to understand how such a tiny gift could be so meaningful to these poverty stricken children in ragged clothes—so many of whom are orphans because their parents have died from AIDS. Joy told me that when each child was given their simple gift, they literally held it with both hands to their chest and clutched it as a treasured gift. Joy said it was one of the most moving experiences of her trip—just seeing the children’s eyes light up as they held their simple gift to their chest. It wasn’t the value of the gift that mattered but the fact that these precious children were included and didn’t feel left out. As psychologist William James said: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated,” to which we could add, and to be accepted and not left out.
Feeling left out is a terrible feeling—not only for children but also for adults no matter what age we are—even if we have learned to hide our feelings of hurt.
Soon it will be Christmas time again—a time when we think of family and friends and give gifts to those we love the most. Sadly, though, Christmas time for millions of people—not only in third-world countries but right here at home where so many homes have been torn apart by divorce or loss caused by the death of a loved one—is not a happy time. Plus there are many elderly and single adults who have no family to go home to. Then we have service men and women fighting a war against dastardly terrorism—a war that you can’t quite get your hands on. And whether we agree with the war or not, our service personnel are risking their lives in order to protect our incredible freedoms that all too often we take for granted. For so many of these people Christmas is not a time of “Joy to the world,” but a time of sadness, homesickness, and even depression. Many of these people, like the forgotten children in Malawi, not only feel left out, they are left out.
5. All articles on the ACTS International website are by Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise noted.
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