Time is 8:30 Pm; I am on my way home through the city. I am in such a hurry I narrowly miss knocking over a small boy. I murmur an apology and continue on my way only to be stopped short; the same boy is literally standing in my way. He looks up at me, straight in the eye-for effect I guess-and in a singsong tone asks me,
“Sebo mpayo ebibiri.” Meaning sir, give me two hundred shillings (200).
Now he has my full attention: I look down at this tiny man, (could be anything between 7 and 10), dressed in bits and pieces that used to be a t-shirt. It’s obvious that he is cold and hungry, but that comes as no shock because I have seen so many of these on the streets. The real reason I am interested in tiny man is I sense ambition: we are used its ‘Mpayo ekikumi’-give me one hundred shillings (100); the guy has actually hiked charges to 200! I am amused. I decide to haggle, now that we are at it. So I tell tiny man I know it’s supposed to be 100/=, not 200/=. Ok, 100 will do just fine if that’s what you have,’ he says. Soon business is over and tiny man runs off immediately to confront his next” customer”
It’s a hopeless situation, isn’t it? No, it’s not. It reminds me of a bible story about St. Peter’s encounter with the crippled beggar at the beautiful temple-gate (Acts 3:2-6). The cripple was sure that one more silver coin was the best anyone could offer him. I get a feeling Peter had some coins to spare but he knew he could give something that a bagful of silver coins would never give; so Peter said to him,
“Silver and gold I have not but what I have I give to thee; In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk.”
And the born-cripple jumped and danced his way into the church, health and strong. I will bet he never begged again.
As we work with the disadvantaged, homeless children, we try to give them skills like art and craft, sports, music dance and drama, character development and discipleship programs in place of Peter’s faith. And this time it’s not what we have, but rather “…What you have, we help you discover.”
I am encouraged; I hope you will be encouraged too.