Speaking in the Silence

I was sitting in silence, away from everyone and everything. “Finally a chance to unwind,” I thought to myself. I was on my bed – one of the top bunks in the room where we were all sleeping – and everyone except Heyner, one of our supported children and the little boy in the picture to the right, was in other rooms or outside. Heyner was as tired as I was (which is a miracle itself!) and was laying there quiet in his bunk – the one directly below mine.

And so I sat there soaking it up, happier than Warren Buffet in a dollar store.

It had been such a busy day. We had been hosting teams of Americans for the past 9 days and 5 of our supported children had been with us the past two days. I had thoroughly enjoyed all of it, but listening, talking, translating, parenting, and driving had left my brain worn out and I needed to recharge for a few minutes.

Silence Broken

Just as I started to really relax, Heyner’s little voice filled the silence. I tuned my brain back to my Spanish channel thinking he was asking me a question but quickly realized he was not. He was just talking to himself with strange pauses in the middle of his words. For those of you that know Heyner, this is just par for the course.

I am sad to admit that my reaction was internal disappointment. I just wanted a few moments of silence. Just 10 minutes to slow down and not have to be “on” for everyone else. So I closed my eyes and tried to tune it out for a minute or two.

But his little voice continued, making its way into my ears and softening my heart until I started listening. At first, I wasn’t sure what was going on, but it quickly became clear he wasn’t just saying random things (like he often does). In fact, he was slowly saying words I had never heard him use. Some of them big words that I know aren’t part of his or his parent’s active vocabulary.

And that’s when it hit me. He wasn’t talking, he was READING! I took a quick peak and saw he wasn’t just reading, but reading the Bible he had received as a Christmas gift!!

Oh, what a Kingdom come moment! And what a convicting moment. Let me explain.

Heyner’s Story

For those that don’t know Heyner, until just recently, Heyner’s own summary of his life was: “I am not loved. I am not worth anything.”

I am deeply saddened to say he didn’t come up with that thought on his own. That was what his mother told him and embedded into him from an early age. Every day she verbally (and often physically) abused him, saying different combinations of, “I do not love you. You are not lovable. You are worthless. I wish I had never had you. I love your brother, but I hate you.”

What makes it worse is that in her mind those statements were true. She did not – and still does not – love Heyner. She truly does not believe he is lovable. And Heyner knows it.

Can you imagine growing up like that? Abandoned by your father and KNOWING that your own mother doesn’t love you? Knowing that the one person that is supposed to always love you no matter what not only doesn’t love you, but hates you, resents you, wishes you had never been born.

Because of his mother’s words, from birth he has questioned his own worth and whether he is REALLY lovable. The promises of God have also always seemed strange to Heyner. With no example of what love looks like, how could he possibly understand what it means to be loved by a perfect God??

Deepening the confusion, since his brother was born, his mother has burned one thought into his head: she has love, but it is only for others (his brother), not for Heyner. As such, I have seen Heyner assume the love of God is the same. That God’s love is available for others, but not for him. He is, as his mother tells him, not lovable and that extends to God as well.

Finally, Heyner’s mother held him out of school to make him work at home or in the fields. She wouldn’t take him to the doctor when he got sick, gave him less food than he needed, and purposefully made his life harder than it needed to be. As a result, when we started working with him and his family he wasn’t in school, was at risk for losing his hearing in one ear, and was grossly undernourished.

And even more dire – he had no idea that he was lovable and loved.

What a heavy burden to for such a young soul to carry. And how easily it could have destroyed his little heart before it even got a chance to grow.

But God is bigger than that.

Changing the Story

Heyner’s story, sadly, is not unique. Many children, in countries all around the world, are told the same lies. But that is what they are. Lies. These precious little ones ARE loved. They ARE worth a priceless amount. And the promises of God ARE for them too.

So, over the past five years we have fought for Heyner for him to know TRUTH. Walter has tirelessly invested in him and his family. And now, although I cannot say that God has changed his mother’s heart, Heyner’s life is dramatically different and God is so very active in his little heart.

He is in school, he is physically healthy, he is eating enough, and he is growing in his mental and physical capabilities. But more than that, he is slowly learning that he is lovable and loved by us and by God. And equally important, he is learning to rest in that knowledge and have confidence in it.

It has been a beautiful restoration and redemption process so full of God’s goodness, grace, and fierce love that I cannot help but tell people about it.

Back to the Bunks

So there in that moment, when I saw and HEARD him reading, and not just any book, but reading the Bible, I was overwhelmed with the goodness of the Lord. Not only did it represent the fact he was finally getting the education he needed, it also showed his confidence – even if just with me – to read it out loud. To let his voice be heard and to draw attention to himself.

That may sound like a small thing, but for a child who has grown up believing that getting attention from an adult leads to beatings and abuse (thanks to his mom), doing ANYTHING to draw attention to themselves is a very risky move. So the fact that he was willing to do that lets me know he views us as different. He views us as a safe place where he can rest and let his little voice stretch and be heard. And he views the concepts we have been trying to teach him as something that might just be true.

It lets me know that Heyner’s little heart has begun to choose to believe that he is loved, truly loved. That these “crazy” promises of the God we serve are true. And that he can rest in that truth.

Concluding the Story

“Hey buddy. You want to come up here and read that story to me?” I asked.

He looked at me, his eyes filled with joy and a big smile on his face. He nodded his head up and down.

“Then come on up!” And with that, he climbed up to my bunk and we sat there reading for at least the next 20 minutes. We would read a story, then talk about what we just read, and how much God loves him.

And so there, on a bunk bed in Nicaragua, in the midst of both of us being exhausted, I got to listen to a little heart tell me – in his own words – about a God that has done these incredible things, is alive today, and that loves him more than anything in the world.

It makes me think of Psalm 8:2 which says, “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Jesus quotes this Psalm as well in Matthew 21 standing up for the little children, which makes me believe that in that moment I wasn’t the only one rejoicing.

It makes me believe that in heaven there was a party celebrating Heyner, celebrating his heart’s faith in the midst of such burdened circumstances, and celebrating the God who not only made it all possible but who is big enough to “silence the foe and the avenger” in Heyner’s life.

3 Comments

  1. Amy Morris says:

    Sweet, sweet…
    I may be in Nicaragua in November with Christian Relief Fund!

  2. Karen Sanderson says:

    Such a great, uplifting story! Actually it covers the whole spectrum. God bless you for all you are doing there and God bless those sweet babies (all our kids are always our babies in our hearts)!

  3. chris says:

    Thank you both for your encouraging words and support of our work! I am excited for you to get to experience the country, Amy!

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