Sheer Joy May Affect Your Sleep — the story of G.R.O.W.’s ninth child

There are few joys more precious in this world than that of giving hope of a future to someone who was living on the edge of extinction. Sadly, extinction does not threat only certain species in some remote African forest. It also affects millions of nameless kids walking aimlessly on the edge of cities or in the heart of bustling metropolises around the world.

So when you hear about one that was snatched from the brink of precipice, as a friend of mine likes to say, “Your heart starts dancing like an elephant.” But when you not only hear about it but in some small way play a part in the act of redemption, you are insanely beside yourself with joy.

Such was the state of my soul this past weekend when I heard that G.R.O.W.’s home for at-risk children in northern Thailand had received its ninth child (sorry, no name for now!) — an eight year old boy who up until this point had seen his share of danger, rejection, famine and abuse.

Let me back up a little. His father was forced to fend for himself on the streets of a most inhospitable city dating to a time when the son was yet to be. Tragedy struck the father early on when as a little boy he met a foreign tourist intent on seeking forbidden pleasures only a foreign visa on his passport could allow him.

To put it mildly, when that “tourist” boarded the plane that would take him home, he had left in his wake a trail of destruction that reached the very core of a very badly bruised young boy. By the time he ordered his red wine and settled nicely into the cushy seat of his first class cabin, the  little pieces of what was once a somewhat whole person were now splattered indiscriminately — so disfigured it would be nearly impossible to gather them up and glue them together again.

The boy grew into a man who kept on living between the streets, gay bars, failed marriages and a constant search for a suitable occupation that could now help him feed the little one who seemed attached to him wherever his feet took flight. Like the P. S. in a letter, the boy was an appendage, a backpack someone only remembers when it is time to get another thing out of it.  But quietly, without his knowledge, a conspiracy of kindness had been brewing to save him.

For four years a young lady who is now a staff member of G.R.O.W. in Thailand had been watching this boy. On several occasions she had literally intervened to take him out of danger. Seeing the “backpack” being thrown around without mercy, all she could do was pray and wait patiently for her time to act. The day finally came last Sunday. I won’t tell you the details, but the boy is now safely in the G.R.O.W. home in northern Thailand.

He traveled light — only a plastic bag to his name, but his heart was heavy with bad memories. When he saw his own bed, he was afraid to jump in because never in a million years could he imagine it was his — he never had a bed attached to his name. He arrived late in the evening. “Are you hungry?” They asked. “No,” he said. They insisted and he finally confessed: “I had one little plastic bag of noodles which I mixed with some cold water.” “All day?” “Yes, all day.” When asked why he lied, he said, “My dad told me not to tell you this.”

Later, he was jumping in bed, hearing the other children tell stories about school. “Is it true that I can go to school too?” He asked. He had so many questions it was hard for him to fall asleep, but when he did, it was a heavenly sleep, one he didn’t even know existed in this world.

And six thousand miles away I too couldn’t sleep but this time it was out of sheer joy.

“Just as crying may come at night, you can be sure that joy comes in the morning!” (Psalm 30:5).

Ivanildo C. Trindade