Have you ever heard a group of children who used to live on the streets recite, by heart and in unison, the parable of the lost sheep who was found by the Good Shepherd?
I was filled with emotion thinking about these children who have slept on the streets, sometimes for years, without schooling, food, water, safety, nor much hope for a different future. Many turned to sniffing glue to numb their pain from hunger, loneliness and boredom. Children came to the streets from different backgrounds – some abandoned by parents struggling with alcoholism, others forced to the streets by poverty or parental death – but here as they recited passages from the Gospel of Luke together, they shared in unison the confession that we are all lost sheep and in need of rescue.
One of the children's favorite metaphors is leaving Egypt to find Canaan. Like the Israelites, they have left the comfort of the known for the uncertain future that lays ahead of them. Leaving the wilderness to find the rest of their future before them, these children prepare to be reintegrated with their families or other destinations. They have found each other, found Christ, and in so doing, found themselves.
As the children recited the parable, the fear and resignation that must have gripped the lost sheep met my heart. To be desperately without direction, alone and without hope, and then to be found by the Good Shephard – the one who seeks lost sheep to fold them in together and form a whole flock, is something we may all relate to. It is Jesus who calls us beyond the wilderness in which we reside alone and cold, and folds us into a global family that reflects God's generous searching for us.
You appeared in my heart and mind as I heard the children's words. My family and I have travelled here, but we have not travelled alone. We travel with your support, hopes and prayers. You are here with us. As the children recited the parable of the lost sheep, you were present. Though you did not know it, you have heard a group of children who used to live on the street recited the parable of the lost sheep.