Tuesday, June 1, 2010

When Sparrows Fall

I intern at an inner city ministry that serves the needy in my community.  This week, I've helped with a VBS for some of the kids in one of the poorer areas of my city.  We have a climbing wall, a Slip 'n' Slide, bouncers, and more.  The kids have a blast, get a free lunch, and are able to learn about Jesus at the same time.

During the Bible lesson, some of the kids in the back of the group began to gasp and whisper.  The small commotion was distracting everyone away from the lesson, so I attempted to sneak over and see what the problem was.  A small bird had fallen from its nest above right onto the shoe of one of the girls.  The bird was tiny, weak, and helpless.   Its eyes were sealed shut, its fragile wings had not yet developed, and it had only a few tufts of feathers.  It looked as if it had just hatched from its egg.  It was pitiful. 

This incident obviously distracted the children.  They crowded around the tiny bird, moaning and murmuring until we managed to gather everyone back up to finish the lesson.  After the kids got their daily dose of Jesus, they returned to examine the pitiful bird.  It was so small, obviously unable to survive for very long without its mother.  The fact that the bird would die was frightening to the children.  They prayed over the bird.  They shaded the bird.  They temporarily abandoned their lunches on a picnic table to care for the bird... kids who need food because they don't have any at home abandoned their lunches to take care of this bird. 

A helper for the week saw the distress on the faces of these children and stepped up to the plate.  He propped a ladder against the ceiling of the lean-to where the little bird's nest was.  While everyone watched, this man climbed up the wobbly ladder, risked his safety and well-being, and gently placed the baby bird back into its nest, safe and sound.

The relief that spread across the tiny group of children was heartwarming.  Once everyone knew that the bird would (hopefully) be okay, they could return to their lunches without worry.

This story reminded me of Matthew 10:29.  "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care." 

The inner city kids in this group have been through a lot.  Many of them have faced hunger, abandonment, and abuse from their own families.  These kids are forgotten by everyone around them, left to fend for themselves in a harsh world.  And yet these kids who carry the weight of the world on their shoulders wanted nothing more than for a baby bird to be safe once again in its cozy nest.

In some ways, the inner city children can relate to that tiny bird.  They're neglected and forgotten... voiceless in a world that never seems to care.  Many are considered to be doomed from the start, left to die a spiritual death while living in poverty and hopelessness.  That will never be God's plan for them.   

The Lord took a part in this situation.  He was able to use the story of the baby bird- fallen to the ground, but carried back to safety- to teach these kids that He does care.  Many of the little girls knelt to pray for the bird, pleading with God for the little creature's life, and God showed these kids that He hears their prayers.  He cares about that tiny bird... and if God cares about a newly hatched bird, then He must care so much more for the kids who wanted to save it.  And so many of those kids believe they're unlovable. 

God loves those children more than words can express.  God has a specific purpose for each of them, no matter their circumstances at home.  And God showed them that today through the fate of one tiny bird.

Matthew 10:31
So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.   

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