By Mason King
Isaiah left the game to sit along the wall of the auditorium. With alarming speed he had moved from joyful to sullen and unresponsive. A student moved to sit next to him, to encourage him to return to the game, to the laughter and chase. Isaiah would have none of it and moved towards the door.
I watched him go and called out to him – only to have his 9-year-old mind close the door on me and the building. I followed him.
There are times when I am hurting that I want my space. I want to be left alone even in the midst of a crowd of friends. But then there are times in life where I have been hurting, and in my pain I have been silently crying out for someone to simply be there for me. Isaiah ran, but he did not run far. He ignored me, but he did not leave. He sat on the concrete and buried his head into his crossed arms, tucking his knees. Here he remained. Then he began to softly shake, and I realized he was weeping. I began to ask him what was happening, what was wrong – and then I moved across the cement divide and sat next to him.
There is something profound in my mind about the imagery of a brother, perhaps because I never had one in my family. But the Lord has given me friends like brothers, and I understand that bond and the importance of encouragement. Oftentimes, it’s simply through realizing the gravity of a someone’s situation and not trying to fix it, but sitting through the pain with them that helps them move towards healing.
Little Isaiah continued to weep, and I placed my arm around him and pat him on the back. I begin to pray in small phrases of broken Spanish, “Father thank you for Isaiah, for Your love for us, Your patience with us, Your presence near us. Thank you for your Son, thank you for loving us now.”
Isaiah buried his head into my chest and cried. Quick to regain composure and be tough, he turned to wipe the tears away and blow his nose. I had no words for him. “Lord, may I be your presence here, may your love work through this moment. You love Isaiah here and now, in his weakness and in the countryside of Guatemala, behind these high walls and armed guards.”
Tears still flowing steadily, he tucked himself into a ball and began to rock a little.
What kind of hurt is going on here? What is happening here at the orphanage or in this child’s life that is torturing him so? As I hear the laughter of his friends from inside, and as we sit in the mist, I simply hurt with him.
The boys began to rotate groups, and Isaiah was about to be exposed in the middle of rush hour. I couldn’t leave him there; no man wants to be seen this vulnerable in front of his friends. So I tried to rouse him, to get him to walk with me across the way. It was as if his joints had locked. He continued to hide his face from me. Looking around and seeing the oncoming group of boys, I reached down and picked up the ball that was Isaiah and carried him away.
For fifteen minutes I held Isaiah, as one would hold a small child of a few years. He remained motionless, except for the involuntary shaking from the shedding of tears. For fifteen minutes he did not move.
Eventually, I sat Isaiah down next to one of our translators. Hurried glances and looks of “What’s wrong” and “No idea” were exchanged. She began to speak to him, and he ran away from her.
I stood against the wall and watched for a moment. There are three young Buckner employs that work at the orphanage every afternoon to teach the boys in school, social skills, and in the way of Christ. Isaiah was stopped by one of these men, and after much conversation, Isaiah stopped crying.
After we left the orphanage, I visited with one of the staff members and expressed my concern over Isaiah, and she explained what our staff concluded:
“Yesterday was parent visitation day. Isaiah’s parents told him they would come and visit, and then on visitation day – they did not come. He was expecting them, and they did not show.”
I cannot imagine the world of hurt such as this, and the pain that must saturate these grey skies in a 9-year-old’s world.
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