Raphael the fearless
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3
Early on in our work in Brazil we made a lot of rookie mistakes. One in particular led to a wonderful story of the fearless faith of a child. I think it might just encourage the shark wrangler hidden within you.
We had begun our first outreach using a building belonging to a little church. As we reorganized the space to make space for our material we encountered a room full to the ceiling with used clothes. Clothing had been collected for a bazaar and these were the leftovers. The clothes were in good condition, but no one was quite sure what to do with them. So after getting permission from the pastor, we set a date to take the clothes and distribute them in a favela (slum neighborhood) adjoining the neighborhood where the church was located. On a typically balmy Brazilian summer afternoon we loaded the clothing into the back of our pick-up truck and headed out. My two boys, Michael (9) and Raphael (7) were riding along, as well as Pastor Tiago, my friend Marcelo, and another boy from the outreach, Adriano.
A Just Cause
As we pulled to a stop in the neighborhood we were immediately approached by curious children and then adults asking what we were doing. When they realized we were giving things away, the word went out and in an instant a sea of humanity surrounded us. People pushed and shouted as we tried to distribute the clothes in some semblance of order. About that time the door of the pick-up opened (I had forgotten to lock the door in the confusion) and some children jumped in and started grabbing at whatever they could find. My soccer ball went first and then one of them grabbed my handsaw and took off up the street. My youngest boy Raphael saw the whole thing and yelled to me, “Dad, that boy stole your saw!” I told him we had bigger problems and that we just needed to lock the doors now so that my wallet wasn’t next. He insisted, “But that wasn’t a donation! That’s stealing and it’s wrong!” Again, I told him to forget about it. Next thing I know, there goes by little boy, barefoot, up the street, through the favela after the saw. He didn’t hear me when I called to him so I asked Adriano to tail him and make sure he didn’t get into any trouble.
After a few minutes I was getting worried. The throng began to subside as the last of the clothing was carted off. Where was my son? I looked up and my heart jumped as I saw Raphael walking back toward the truck…with a triumphant look on his face and my saw in his hand. As scary as that was for a dad, I learned a lesson that day. When our mission is just and godly we cannot let fear stop us.