By Barbara Rainey
Do you know there are children who live on the streets? Not kids whose mom or dad is temporarily homeless and they are too by default. Not the ones who live in your local shelters as tragic as that is.
No, it’s children who have lived all their lives in gutters, in sewer pipes, or other unimaginable places. Children who sleep on cardboard, who sniff glue to numb their pain, who never cry, who fear anyone who tries to help because they have learned to trust no one. A doctor who has worked for years among these invisible children wrote, “The longer children live on the streets, the more they realize the meaninglessness of words.”*
For these millions, yes millions, of children in cities around the world the words “home,” “family,” “love,” “right,” “wrong,” “peace,” and “hope” are words and concepts that mean nothing. They have never known home or family as it was intended, the birthplace of meaning. They are hungry, abused, neglected and often die alone.
In the story of creation it is written, “the Lord God planted a garden toward the east in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.” (Genesis 2:8) Of all the geographic options on the globe, God chose one spot as home for Adam and Eve. Eden was a specified place with borders we know because after they sinned God drove them out and stationed cherubim on guard so they couldn’t return.
Home as a place was also a significant theme in Jesus’ last words to His disciples before He went to the cross. As He talked to them about His coming departure He described their future home: “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)
As intended, these words of Jesus impart great hope and comfort. Think about God having a house and being invited to live there with Him! I feel loved and cared for at the sound of “a place for you.” Do you too?
Our experience of home and place today is a preparation for a better home in the future. Living in a structure we call home, even a less than ideal one, gives definition to the concept of a future home in heaven.
Intuitively street children understand place as they form small units of belonging and find familiar corners or sections of sewer to return to for some sense of shelter.
Like glue having a place to come home to, a place to belong gives value to your life and to your children’s. It doesn’t matter how big or small, how fancy or plain; a tiny apartment in New York, a hutong in China, a tin shack in Africa, or an upper middle class ‘mansion.’ What matters is that your children and you have a home and each other. When we moms understand the unseen value of home we worry less about the seen; how clean or up to date our place of residence is.
Home is the nucleus of meaning and stability for all who dwell within.
In spite of its myriad challenges, abounding disagreements, and the sin that lives in every member, a family’s dwelling place is of immense value.
Be encouraged that your home even with its many imperfections is still crucially important.
“God, help us be teachable grace filled people who train and transform lives at home and around the world. May we see the invisible children and know what we can do, that all may taste your goodness. Amen.”
*When Invisible Children Sing, Dr. Chi Huang for more on how to help orphans, foster kids and invisible children go to Christian Alliance for Orphans at CAFO.org.