As I sit in the office at school, I see a familiar face peeking inside the window. I stand up and walk outside to greet him, only to find that he has tears in his eyes. I quickly call for our school director, Cadet, to see if he knows what is going on. He informs me the boy’s father had beaten him the night before.
We take him into the nurse’s office for privacy. With a somber look on his face, he slowly takes off his shirt to reveal what had happened the night before. I see whip marks across his entire back, complete with broken skin and welts. My heart breaks.
I ask why his father did this, and he answers by shrugging his shoulders. He explains he was late for bath time after school, and his father was unhappy with that. We ask if this has happened before, to which he answers, “not like this.” Curious, I ask what his father had done in the past. He tells us his father has hit him many times with an open hand.
Sad and filling with anger, I wrap my arms around him. Through a translator, I tell him I don’t know why this happens, that it’s not good or right, but that God loves him very much. I tell him we love him and we will be praying for him. I say, “Jezi renmen ou anpil. Ou konnen sa? Mwen renmen ou. Ou konnen sa?” (Jesus loves you. You know that? I love you. You know that?). After each question, he looks at me and nods his head yes.
In hopes to resolve the issue, we try contacting his grandmother (the sweet lady he lives with) and his father. We cannot reach either of them. I find out there are laws against child abuse in Haiti, but no one to enforce them. Unlike the States, there is no Child Protective Services. We have to send him back home.
I am confident, although he has been abused by his earthly father, he will never be abandoned by his heavenly Father.
As in so many situations, the only thing I can do is pray. Pray for his protection, pray that he feels the love and comfort of God amidst his situation, and then love him as much as possible. I am confident, although he has been abused by his earthly father, he will never be abandoned by his heavenly Father.
I praise God that the words I’ve spoken to this broken boy about love are backed with actions—we don’t just tell him we love him, but we show him every day by providing a safe place for him. Grace Emmanuel School, for so many students, is a safe-haven. It’s a place where students can learn and play without the worries of their home life. Here, they have a guaranteed meal to fill their bellies. It is a place where the students are deeply loved by the staff.
I praise God, too, that though school is out for summer, visiting groups and JiHM staff continue to work with these children, and continue to show love.
Praise God for this place to learn about and feel the abundant love of Christ. And please join me in praying for this student and for others in similar situations.