My flip flopped feet were soaking wet as I stood in the rain in a nondescript back alley of Bangkok. The smells of fish sauce and jasmine mingled together to create a sweet scent I had not yet decided was appealing. I had heard the stories of what happens in Bangkok. Stories of forced prostitution, brothels, and the child sex industry. I came to expect these things in Bangkok, but what I found in the hidden alleys came as a complete shock to me.
She approached me from behind. I heard her coming before actually seeing her. A baby’s cries, a mother’s broken English, “farang (thai word for foreigner), wait.” I turn to see this beautiful young mother rushing toward me, thrusting her baby out to me. The baby had no diaper or shoes and was covered in nothing more than a filthy t -shirt. I noticed the babies dirt crusted knees and hungry cries. The mother pressed up against me, her baby between us. “Take her. You give her good life.” She placed her baby in my arms and repeated. “You take her.”
Tears stung at my eyes, overcome by this mother’s desperate pleas to give her daughter a better life and I wanted so much to help.
My husband could see the plans already percolating in my mind as he spoke to the mother in thai.
My mind swirled. Could we? Is it possible? Can the Embassy help us? We know we are unable to have another biological child of our own, is this God’s way of delivering a baby to us?
Hope bubbled up within, filling me to the brim.
My husband gently shook his head no as he watched me fall in love with this little baby. Logically, I knew it was impossible for us to board a plane with this baby, but oh how I wanted to.
I wanted to take this barefooted baby away from the broken beer bottles that carpeted the ground near her home.
I wanted to take her away from the possibility of becoming a victim of the sex trafficking industry.
I wanted to swaddle this baby in a freshly laundered blanket and lay her down in the sweet safety of our home.
I whispered to her mother the only words that came to my mind, “God has a plan for her, for you.”
And then…”God has not forgotten either of you.”
What really happens in the back alleys of Bangkok, Detroit, Port Au Prince and around the world?
Mother’s kiss their children goodnight, next to trash heaps.
Father’s sell fruit on the street to put dinner on the table.
Grandma’s collect recyclables to turn in for penny’s.
Children live under bridges and in cars and panhandle on the sides of busy intersections.
But you know what else?
Parents hope, parents dream, and parents pray for a better life for them and their children.
Children hope for mommy’s and daddy’s and kisses good night; and to one day go to school.
So we prayed with that mother. We cried with her. And we left her standing on that muddy side street, alone with her crying baby.
And how do I board a plane and return to my home in the suburbs, leaving this mother and child in poverty? How do I come home to my SUV, and gym membership, and latte’s and not remember this little girl?
How do we offer hope to those mothers and fathers and children living in poverty around the world?
What do we do when we’ve looked poverty straight in the eye and it pierces our soul? Do we sponsor a child, do we adopt, or feed the hungry at a homeless shelter? Give of our resources, of our time, of our hearts? How do we live out the Gospel residing in us??
“ ‘For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer, ‘ Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers on mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:35-40
How do you offer hope and fight poverty in your communities and around the world?