Many of you have heard me talk about Beyan, the little boy who captured my heart when I visited Liberia in 2008. Actually, he is one of the main reasons that I came back here. You see, there are so many Beyans in Liberia—so many children who are stuck in seemingly hopeless situations, children who are starving for love and care and attention, children who just deserve…more. So, when I heard God telling me that He wanted me to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” and “defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31.8,9), I knew that, in a way, I was being called to speak up for the Beyans. If I truly loved them with the heart the Father, there was no way I could stay silent…and no way I could walk away from them.
The first time I saw Beyan after coming back to Liberia was on my birthday (talk about the best birthday present ever!) I wasn’t sure if he remembered me or not, but he sat in my lap while I hugged and squeezed and loved on him as I choked back my tears. Since then, I’ve tried to make it out to the orphanage he lives at every two weeks. Through spending time with him, I’ve learned so much about Beyan’s personality. As adorable and lovable and snuggable as he is, he has quite a temper as well, and can throw some pretty intense tantrums. He can also be extremely stubborn when he wants to be (especially if he’s in trouble for something), refusing to talk to look at, talk to or even acknowledge you. As we say in Liberia, “that boy is frisky!”
Still, I make it a point to pull him aside and say goodbye to him every time I leave. I hug him and tell him that I’ll miss him and I’ll be praying for him. Then I ask, “Beyan, do you know that I love you?” He always looks down at the ground and shakes his head no, so I give him another hug and make sure to tell him, “Beyan, I want you to know that I love you so much.” Over the past six months, this has become our routine.
Yesterday, I made my normal visit to the orphanage. Beyan and I sat and colored, played with one of his toys, and then he took me behind the building to show me some purple (which is his favorite color) flowers he discovered, all the while smiling and talking more than he has in weeks. In fact, he was so animated and chattering away so quickly that, most of the time, I had no clue what he was saying!
When it was time for me to go, I took Beyan’s hand, told him I would miss him and be praying for him, and gave him a big ol’ hug. Then I asked him the question. “Beyan, do you know that I love you?”
This time, his response was different. Instead of looking down and shaking his head like he normally does, Beyan looked right at me, gave a little smile, and nodded! My heart felt so full at that moment that I was sure it was going to burst.
For all I know, I could go back to the orphanage next week, and Beyan could be back to his old, feisty self, wanting nothing to do with anyone, staring at the ground and answering no when I ask if he knows I love him.
But that’s okay. I still have the hope of yesterday to hold on to, and I still have the promises of my God which tell me love is the greatest of all gifts, the one that can never, ever fail.