*The child in this story is not pictured
They found him chained. His right leg chained to his left hand. The chain just long enough for him to stand up straight. Short enough that he could not run – at least not without some extreme coordination. Both of his wrists and ankles showed signs that this was not an uncommon occurrence. It was obvious that he was a prisoner. And had been so for some time.
As the police cut away the chains, their eyes could not cut away from the scars that covered his body. His entire body. Scars from beatings streak his entire backside. All of it. His hair will never completely cover his head, unless it figures out how to penetrate the scar tissue that paints lashes across his skull. At eight years of age, his hands are calloused like those of one who is eighty.
He’s had a difficult time since coming to us at JPLA. As you may imagine. He strikes out when touched. He runs when confronted. His teachers are bruised at the end of the day. His house parents exhausted. But they know his story. They know that he has seen things that no child should see. They know that he has been through what no one could imagine. Chains. Beatings. Ridicule. Suffering.
Unfortunately his own siblings are guilty of the abuse too. Apparently the whole family treated him like a slave. An animal, or whatever word that describes someone treated so poorly. So when they came to JPLA a few days after him, things got worse. It wasn’t a cheery reunion – not even close. We now had to monitor their interaction, because for whatever reason they saw him differently.
But as always, we see changes. The prisoner is now free to be a little boy. He smiles now. He loves now. Not only is he now different, but his siblings are too. They see the brother they never saw before. They interact with love now. No more is there a massive difference between them. Sure he’s the pain-in-the-neck little brother, but he’s not the one to receive the brunt of abuse anymore. He’s slowly become one of them. Brother and friend. Equal.
With classmates, teachers, parents, staff, and missionaries he has become something different as well. Instead of the boy who interrupts with strange noises, he sits and squirms like many little boys. But in silence. His actions aren’t desperate for attention, they are met with affection. He still is learning proper interaction, but he’s doing it within the confines of love and respect. No longer are chains used to contain him. He is free.
In time our prayer is that he will experience the freedom that only comes from above. Why this kid was never allowed to be loved is beyond comprehension. He has love and he is loved. Soon he will experience love and peace that passes all understanding. And no chains will ever bind him again.