Wow! So this past Saturday, April 21st, 2012 was a very different kind of experience for me! I have been regularly (once a month) joining another ministry to visit an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico to love on the children there. Its been an amazing opportunity and connection; and seeing others also love on these children and begin feeling pulled to work on their behalf has been amazing as well.
This particular visit was a different experience for me though. While eating lunch with the children, one little boy sitting in a baby chair to the left of me started choking on some hard candies. He proceeded to spit up a candy and workers around him expressed relief, thinking that all was well now. But as I watched, I could tell he was trying to cry but still couldn’t even breathe. I was aware that there must be more candy lodged in his throat! Reacting immediately without needing time to process, I sprang over to the boy, yanked him from his chair, draped him over my arm, and gave a gentle but solid thump on his upper back! Like a fountain, he spewed up three more pieces of hard candy, and then proceeded to cry.
Seldom in my work is it a melody to my ears to hear a child cry, but this time the crying was melodious for me, as it was an indication that this boy was now breathing and safe! Shocked and yet relieved, I returned to my table to sit with the children and finish eating. Words cant express the relief I felt, nor how traumatic the sight of a precious little boy choking was to me! Fortunately, the rest of the day proceeded without any other mishaps.
As I think about those candies, and how we recognize them to be sweet treats and not inherently bad in and of themselves, it is important insight to be reminded of that there are situations where those sweet treats have potential to be dangerous. The people who brought the candies were excited and happy to share the sweet treats with the children to see them smile and to bless them… and most of those children did smile! 🙂 However, this incident really draws my attention to the fact that though things may be a blessing and good in some situations, its important when working in ministry with children and youth to always be aware and considerate of the context in which those things are used. While the bigger kids could handle the hard candies, the sweet treats may not be the best blessing for the little ones.
This truth also is true of the Gospel message. While the Word is good, some children are so young in their faith, or have no faith yet at all, that being fed whole foods (a lot of the Word and theological ideals) will choke them or be more than they can swallow. They need the milk (core truth of love relationship with Jesus Christ) first and need to grow to the point where they can handle whole foods (a lot of the Word and theological ideals).
This incident on Saturday has brought me to a place of praying even more for God to grant me and bless me with true supernatural discernment of each context I am entering into as I travel and work with orphans, and for the Holy Spirit to prompt and guide my words and tongue to give what is sufficient for the children to grow closer to God, without overwhelming and choking them with the stuff they are not yet ready for. Lord, have Your way in Abogar International Ministries, and in my life as well, as we work to serve You by loving on orphaned children, street children, and youth at risk in Latin America! Amen!