The dust of dry season was soft on the path by the huge baobab tree. Lefani lay down. The noise of the children playing soccer with the visitors from America was drowned out by the sound of his heart rapidly beating in his ears. Discouragement blurred the bright day, he closed his eyes.
Two team members found him there in the dust. They took his hands and led him to the kitchen, but he refused to eat. He slumped down on the kitchen step. Alarmed, Sarah ran to find me. Pastor Phiri said, “If we don’t do something tonight, he may die.” “Then do something!” I encouraged him.
Phiri packed Lefani and his brothers, Chikondi and Herebat, in the car and raced to their village for permission to keep them for a few days. The chief agreed.
First a bath and clean clothes, then food, within an hour all three boys were laughing and running with the team members.
Abandoned by their mother, the boys lived alone for over a year. Chikondi worked in local fields to make money. Lefani and Herebat begged from neighbors in their village. That day on the path, Lefani quit trying. Life was too hard, death was welcome.
Three days later we watched the boys climb back in the car. Tears streamed down all our faces. Without permission to keep them longer, they had to be returned to the village.
For two months, we battled for custody. A search began for the mother, but she was nowhere to be found. Finally as the boys’ condition grew worse, Pastor Phiri decided to bring the boys into Timothy’s Home without her permission.
As we walked up the path to the house, I told Chikondi, “It’s okay. You don’t have to find your own food or cook your own meals anymore. We will take care of you.” Chikondi turned his face away, but not before I saw the tears form in his eyes.
Chikondi, Lefani and Harry, Jesus has such plans for you. His fingerprints of grace shine all over your faces. I praise Jesus that He washed away your tears.
(Pictured above in this order: Lefani, summer 2012, how happy and healthy he looks now! Herebat, summer 2012, an unforgettable smile. Chikondi, summer 2012, playing with friends he is free to be a child now.)