LILLIAN CHARLES

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Kigali Street Boys

We went to THE DREAM CENTER in Kigali where hundreds of street children (all boys) come to play, eat breakfast and worship twice a week.  These children for the most part do not wear shoes.  They wear anything from ripped open cordoroy pants & turtle necks to tank tops with jeans to boxers & girls' pajama dresses.  They all have beautiful smiles... some have rotted out teeth, some have a full mouth of teeth, some have toothy, 7 year old grins.  They are ALL very thin.  


The porridge they ate before us, sitting under trees on a dirt hill, was the only meal they will have today.  They speak different levels of English, some are able to express more than others but they all have learned to respond "I'm fine" when asked "how are you?"  The majority of the kids can say "My name is _____" and "I am __ years old."  


It is literally unbelievable to find out how old these kids say they are, they are so incredibly malnourished... kids I thought were 8 turned out to be 12 or 14... kids I thought were 4 or 5 were actually 8 or 9 years old.  


I look over the heads of the kids who are literally hanging on me like my body is a TREE and I see Obed, a 21 year old Rwandan, running after some bullies and giving them a talking to.  Obed is the first kid to have ever received sponsorship through Africa New Life... he will start college this month in the States.  He looks forward to becoming a doctor and returning to Rwanda in the future.  His mother is HIV+ and has seven sons and one daughter.  We (the team I'm with) all look at Obed and see the incredible impact of ANL's Dream Life Center and we rejoice for we have a BIG GOD and His hand is evident even in the lives of the most pitiful yet precious children.  


Which brings me to the most memorable moment that I started out to describe.  I wiggle free of the many, many, many tiny hands grabbing at my shoulders, hands, hair & watch.  I am covered head to toe in dirt from their sweet, sweet little bodies and ragged clothes.  I ask them to teach me a song. Without hesitation, one little one at the front leads the rest of boys in singing "God is so Good"!  I melt. I whipped my camera out & began videoing their smiling faces, bursting with love and joy for the Lord. In this moment they bless me in an unmeasurable way.  


 "Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. I will say it again: Rejoice!" 
Philipians 4:4