I come walking out of the markets to be introduced to a little girl with burnt orange rags tied on by a plastic bag. Her hair matted and eyes wild, she stares and rocks. One of our missionaries tries to make conversation.
“She is deaf,” the growing crowd says. Everyone is curious why the three white women are stopping to inquire about a little beggar girl who can’t hear. “Her mom and dad are dead. No family. She lives and sleeps on the streets.” They say it nonchalantly like one recounts the latest weather.
This little one of eight, with special needs, severely abused by men, desperately hungry and tormented by the evil around her. OF course we take her home. SHE is the reason why I came here five years ago.
No one including her knows her name. She is nameless. To the world around her, she doesn’t even exist. Not really. But to the One Who created her, she is a treasure. All heaven is waiting for this moment, its breath held as we first meet. She takes one look at me and calls out Mama in muffled monotone tones. And I take her in my arms and reply, “Yes, my daughter. Ay, benia tai.”
She smiles faintly. We name her Mercy and all pile into the car to take her for lunch on the way home. In an instant she is found. Her world changes. No longer eating rotting trash, she sits with us at a table. Honored. Loved. The waitress helps me wash her hands. Mercy tries to give me her coke. No sweetheart. This is yours. All yours.
Our hungry little girl eats down two helpings of meat and cassava. Her language garbled, wild gestures, clawing at my arms… I look into her eyes deep across the table and see far more than her looking back at me.
We get home and our staff gives me the “we can’t let you out of our sight” look. How many times have I left home for bread or fabric or errands and come back with a child! And this one a very special treasure with very special needs. Our resources already stretched beyond reason, I silently storm heaven for grace on their behalves.
Mercy digs her nails into my arm like a scared animal. She is only acting out that which she has been treated as. What will happen when she is loved and treated as the royalty she truly is?
Eudita (our head mama, one of my dear friends and ever my hero) somehow corrals her to come inside so she can bathe. We wash her clean and her hair lightens to the orange brown of malnourishment. Her rags removed, beautiful pink satin fit for the princess she is replaces them.
But still. Her eyes are haunted, her reactions violent. I tell our mamas. It is not her. Pain and abuse have opened doors to a torment that thinks it owns her. No more. Not any longer. Not in our family. The Jesus I know and love came to set the captives free and heal hurting hearts. And freedom has come for this Mercy found.
One of my daughters also rescued from a life lived in back alleys comes up to me, her eyes all shiny. She tells me in our local arabic, “Mama, thank you for bringing her home. All the bad spirits that are tormenting her will go because we will pray and Jesus will make them go. Then she will be healed.” I smile deep and hug this gift from heaven. A child leads again.
All cleaned on the outside, but walking untamed and aimless we take Mercy up to my porch. Our leaders and I, gather round and we love and we pray and we sing and we bless. We hold and dodge blows and whisper peace. We command darkness to bow, break the curses and lies and invite life to come. I marvel as I see the real love of Jesus come again to set this His beautiful one free. For several hours the battle rages until finally fear and torment run in the face of His love. This treasure found rests in our arms and wakes to freedom.
Her transformation is nothing short of supernatural. This one we were told was deaf and unable to communicate, who had only death and fear in her gaze and anger in her grip is like a new child. She eats her dinner giggling up at the sky and says over and over again her first bold words, “Shukran Jesua.” Thank you Jesus.
We tuck her in the first bed she has slept in in at least two years all snuggled warm with her very own blanket and she laughs and says, “Shukran Jesua.” Over and over again she thanks Him. I sit here a bit bruised and sore from her early blows, tuckered out from restraining her attacks and teary-eyed grateful for her new freedom. Shukran Jesua.
Thank You for Mercy and grace in times of need.
Please pray with us for her continued healing. We do still have a journey ahead of us. I am so thankful for all of you who journey with us through your prayers. One little girl’s life will never be the same.