13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
I don’t think I ever truly understood what this verse met until this past Saturday, when I met my new friend T (name withheld).
The first week and a half of BUP has been a whirlwind of emotions – laughter, anguish, anger, joy. I can’t adequately describe how I’ve been feeling in just one blog post, but I’ll do my best.
Our second day at BUP was a day of great sorrow, as the neighborhood was saddened by the news that Amirah Kinlaw, a third grader, was struck and killed by a car on her way from leaving school. This incident consumed me and much of the neighborhood for most of the week, culminating with Amirah’s candlelight vigil the following Sunday. All my doubts and questions about God kept rushing back to me. Questions about justice, doubts that I thought I had already given over to God. She was so young and full of life. Why did this have to happen? When does this stop? Will God stop this? Does He even want to?
Every time we walked by her memorial in front of Steuart Hill Academy, I was reminded of the injustice and pain in this neighborhood, pain that the residents sadly may have even become accustomed to. The week after the vigil, It was getting difficult for me to see the beauty in God’s creation when I couldn’t stop thinking about the brokenness.
Enter T. I met him at a barbeque hosted by Gallery Church Sowebo at the playground behind Steuart Hill Academy. Going in the barbeque, to be honest, I did not feel like talking to new people. I was hungry, and I just wanted to get some food, enjoy the sunny weather and go back and rest. After eating, I saw a couple boys, T and his cousin – who I’ll call A – playing football, thinking it would be an easy way to keep myself busy without getting into deep conversations. Looks like God really did want to speak to me.
During one of our breaks from playing football, T and I decided to take a breather and sit to chat. He started telling me about his grandma that passed away. He asked me if I knew about the student who had been hit, and I tensed up, not eager to be weighed down by more sorrow and have to re-confront my trust issues with God. I said yes, and this was his response:
“My grandma went up there (as T pointed to the sky) and Amirah went up there too. They’re probably meeting up or something. This is her park. I bet they’re having the same party up there that we’re at right now. Heaven is like one big party when you’re up there.”
After a long week of mourning, this was the encouragement I didn’t know I needed. T showed me the trust in the power and mercy of God that I was so desperately lacking. When Jesus was talking about the kingdom of God belonging to the children, he wasn’t just talking about their innocence and purity, but their deep, unconditional faith as well.
I’m praying that as I continue along my BUP journey that God was grant me the faith and mind of a child. I’m still working out how to hold the tension between being angry at God and trusting God’s plan, but hopefully He will grow me in that way too.
Thanks for reading through this rambling of my thoughts. Please keep praying for me, for the Mount Clare neighborhood, for Baltimore, for the world.