Today’s post is written by Megan Reuber, a CAMA worker in West Africa.

I remember the first time she inched closer.

Maybe it was our open arms and attentive smiles that drew her near to us. She unexpectedly wrapped her little arms around my waist and would. not. let. go. There’s proof.

Soon, her little lips gave way to a smile that grew into a grin that eventually erupted into giggles. Every time we drove to the village, she would boldly greet us with her sandy hands and crumb-lined smile and wait for the moment when she could cuddle close. She was no longer afraid of us, at least.

I know that we’re not supposed to have favorites, but she was mine.

While being away this summer, I received the email. I didn’t feel much of anything. I closed my inbox and proceeded to cross off my ever growing pre-departure to-do list and carry on as usual. After all, this is what it means to live in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Smiles I leave won’t necessarily be there to greet me upon my return. Faces I’ve known, I may never know again. Heartbreaking statistics exist for a reason. BUT this statistic had a face, a giggle, a bright future swiftly wiped out by a preventable disease. I wasn’t ready for this.

It didn’t hit me until I was sitting on the plane and flying somewhere above the Atlantic and finally had more than a few minutes of quiet. The cruelty of it engulfed me. Why do the “least of these” pay the highest price for poverty? My face was wet with tears for a little girl that would be nameless to most of the world, just as she would have been nameless to me.

As I sat there, a mess of tears and tissues, I cried out to Jesus. Where is He in the midst of suffering? Surely, she would have run to His kind arms had she the opportunity. Jesus, you know her name! You know the suffering of the least of these!

It’s in these mysterious moments that sorrow and hope collide. It’s in these raw places that I look to Christ in His suffering, find renewed strength in His love, and release my burdens in His presence. I lay my unanswered questions safely at the feet of a Sovereign and Trustworthy God who knows what I don’t and loves when I can’t.

Will you take a moment and remember the faces like these?

Will you not just rejoice with me but also bear sorrow with me?  Pray that God would give us an abundance of Spirit-filled wisdom, courage, and perseverance to serve when the task is daunting and emotionally weighty. Pray that vulnerable children like this little girl may know His love and goodness in this place.

Thank you for sitting with me in the midst of the pain and for extending your arms and prayers to the least of these.