Twenty One Miles:
Twenty one miles is the distance from where we were staying in the country to downtown Baltimore where we do the shows for the children. It is not that far, but it seems a world apart. The children that are coming to our programs are from very bad places where alcoholism, drugs, and prostitution are common problems. Where we are staying, these are more often topics you hear on the news, not things you experience in the community. I am very grateful for the kindness of our friends, but I cannot help but notice the difference.
We are doing shows in literally the worst places in Baltimore. I have police friends who are amazed that we would go into these places to work. The children that we are seeing often do not know anything about Jesus and God’s rescue plan for them. They are often afraid and lonely. Many of them have no idea who is their father and they ache for someone to see them.
The places where we do the programs are almost always hot, since the air conditioning does not usually work. Often the children are amazed that we came again. They greet us with shock and surprise as they say, "You came back!". To me, these words are both sweet and sad. Many of the children remember our names from last year. We wonder how an hour’s program can make such an impression over the course of a year. They are very happy to see us come and very sad to see us leave.
We have heard hundreds and hundreds of children praying in soft whispers and sometimes very loud asking Jesus to rescue them. In some places, no one prays out loud because they do not feel safe enough to do this. However, they come up to me after the program and tell me, "I prayed with you!". They want me to know they made a decision to trust Jesus. We have already given away over a $1000 worth of Jesus Story Book Bibles and Action Bibles. Every child was so happy to receive a special book chosen just for them.
These children need your prayers. They need you to see them. They are growing up in places most of you would not dare to visit. Still, they are just like your children and that they long to be loved and cared for and treasured. Please remember them in your prayers and please pray for us as we have three more days of shows in inner city Baltimore.
The children often say very funny things to us. A little boy greeted me at the show this morning "I HATE puppets!!". When I tried to ask him about why he felt this way, he simply shouted "I HATE PUPPETS! I HATE PUPPETS!". At the end of the program, the same little boy came to me and said, "That was the BEST puppet show I have EVER seen!".
At our second show today, a little girl said, "I am AFRAID of you!". I thought she was freightened by my cane and offered to put it aside. She said that she was NOT afraid of my cane but that she was afraid of ME! I was devastated. However, at the end of the program, she said, "I am not afraid of you at all, can I have the pictures you drew?"
There are certain things we do every year because we know the children love them. Drake always does a trick with a Bible that bursts into flames as he tells a certain story. When we arrived at several of the shows, I heard the children telling the other children about the fire Bible. They LOVE hearing his testimony! They also loved the symbols I use in the story and wait for me to hit the biggest ones.
They do so many things that make us smile and we are grateful for the time we spend with all these children!
A Very Special Young Man:
At our last show in Tennessee, I was leading the children in a prayer to trust in Jesus. However, no one was praying out loud. Then I heard a single, loud, clear voice. Immediately, the rest of the children became brave enough to follow his lead and pray. I saw who had lead the prayer and went and spoke to the young boy afterwards. He admitted to me that he already knew Jesus as his Savior, but wanted to help the other children feel safe enough to pray. He is only 10 or 11 years old and wise beyond his years. His concern for the other children touched my heart! We gave him an Action Bible to thank him for being such a good example and encouragement.
Linda, Hannah, Olivia, Kelsey, Drake, and Leslie.