I want to tell you a story about a beautiful young girl. On my first trip to Myanmar, she was the first child to grab my hand as I stepped off of the bus. And she captured my heart as well. She was glued to my side that entire trip. After I left, we wrote letters back and forth to each other, and I prayed for her constantly.
On my second trip, my girl was waiting for me as I stepped off of the bus. She stuck by my side again the entire time, and I had the incredible joy of baptizing her on that trip. It was one of the best moments of my life, one that I will never forget. And again, we wrote letters back and forth over the year, and I couldn’t wait to see her again.
This time, my third trip to Myanmar, as the bus pulled into the orphanage, I scanned all the faces pushing toward the bus to find my girl. She wasn’t there. I asked another child where she was, all she could tell me was, “She leave.”
Later, I asked one of the leaders where she was. I was horrified to find out that she was taken along with 18 other kids. Some people came to the orphanage and said they were taking some of the kids on a sightseeing tour of Yangon. They never came back. Instead, they took the children to their villages. Some are now being forced to work in the Buddhist temples, and some are being forced to work on farms. They tried to get the kids back but the Buddhist monks blocked the bus and stopped them.
So this girl, the first child who held my hand in Myanmar, the one I baptized…I will most likely never see again. My heart is completely and totally broken.
I can’t stress how important the work is that we are doing here in this country. The value that children have rights, that individuals matter is a Christian value. And this country is not Christian…yet. The children who are here today may not be here tomorrow. They don’t get to choose what happens to them. We have only the moment right here and now to tell them about how much Jesus loves them. I was painfully reminded today that time is so short. I will be spending the rest of my trip making the most of every opportunity God gives me.
Natalie Jaranowski, Executive Director, One Life Network