MATTHEW 19:13-14 (NIV) | "Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'”
Worshipping next to little Sarah* on Sunday mornings keeps me on my toes. “Sister, that woman needs you to hug her….” “This woman needs our prayers….”
In Cambodia, 50% of the population is under the age of 25. That is a lot of little ones running around! Unfortunately, many of these children live on the streets in Phnom Penh. These precious ones are taken advantage of in unspeakable ways.
But, their Great Defender and Rescuer says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
In my partnership with anti-trafficking organizations in Cambodia, I have seen children rescued and restored. Even more exciting, I have seen them learn how to “climb into Jesus' lap” so that he can bless them. He speaks to them about their destiny and the big shoes that he has prepared them to fill.
Little Kingdom-holders like Sarah are overcoming great obstacles to run to Jesus.
A few years ago, Sarah was found naked and chained to a wall. Sarah has Down syndrome, which makes her especially vulnerable. Her family shunned her. They did not even give her a name. She endured much abuse in her eight years. (We don't know how old she really is, because her mother did not remember.)
Sarah was placed in a family of believers. When her new family gave her a biblical name, a sovereign deliverance took place. Her head was down in shame until she heard her name. She looked up with free eyes and joyfully exclaimed, “My name is Sarah!”
Sarah sings spontaneous songs to Jesus. Sometimes she surprises everyone in the room by singing Scripture with beautiful Khmer words that only God could have taught her.
When she sings, she lifts her hands and soon, her eyes light up. She shouts “Preah Iesu!” or “Jesus!” and worships until she sees him. He comes to pick her up and hold her.
Sarah has blessed her new family and everyone else who sees her face with her precious gifts. When her caregivers took her to the hospital for checkups, the staff were amazed. They had never seen a child with Down syndrome dressed and acting like a normal child. They began to ask questions like, “We hear that in America, people with Down syndrome can have jobs and normal lives. Is this true?”
Not long after Sarah started making waves at the hospital, her story reached the ears of the Prime Minister of Cambodia, who invited her to sit with him on a stage as he gave a speech in 2013 on Human Rights Day.
Sarah is teaching everyone around her that every life in Cambodia is a life to be valued. The Kingdom of God belongs to ones such as Sarah. She is growing every day as she responds to the love of her Heavenly Father, who has some big shoes for her to fill!
*Sarah’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
- What obstacles tend to hinder you from approaching Jesus like a child, whether it’s (metaphorically) jumping up into his arms or trusting him with childlike faith?
- How is God leading you to rediscover a childlike faith in your relationship with him today? What’s one action you can take to approach him with the wonder, awe, and trust of a child?
- In what ways is God asking you to become a voice for the little ones in your community who are crying out for justice?
This reading is a part of our "Small Feet Big Shoes" devotional series. You can also sign up to receive these meditations by email.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alice Collier lives and serves in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with her husband, Sean, and their three children. She helped to start the International House of Prayer in Phnom Penh and leads worship and prayer there on a weekly basis. Her heart is to see the little children of Cambodia come to know their true Father.