When we came back from our visit to the states, we found out our organization had hired a new gardener for the backyard of the foster home It may seem like an everyday occurance, but it is a beautiful story...
It started with hiring a new nanny. During the interview process, the woman happened to tell our director about her husband. He was in a serious car accident many years ago and suffered horrible burns all over his face, arms, and hands. He lived, but the scar tissue he has is very significant, and his face is disfigured. For a while after he'd recovered, he tried to go back to "normal life." He went looking for work, but no one would hire him because he would "scare their customers away." He would go out into the village and into the city occasionally, running errands and looking for odd jobs, but he became increasingly broken by the stares. Then one day he was on an elevator with his wife in the city, and two women got on. One of them looked at him, and she started screaming.
He couldn't get off the elevator.
He had to stay there while she stared at him in horror, screaming in fear and revolt.
It was the last day he ever left his house.
I'm not sure how much time passed since the elevator incident and now, but when our director heard the story, she immediatly suggested that the woman have her husband come in for an interview for the gardener's position. The woman looked with surprise at our director, shocked that after hearing the story, someone would actually want to face her husband.
Her husband came a few days later. During the first interview, he never made eye contact with our director. He wore a large hat to shield his face, and he clearly felt vulnerable and afraid. I'm sure he was certain we'd called him in for an interview just for a first-hand chance to see what everyone found so revolting and terrifying. So when he was called back for a second interview, he couldn't hide his surprise. When he was offered the job, he nearly broke down with thankfulness and shock. He was to start immediately... turning our sometimes overgrown backyard into a place of beauty and peace. The garden is the perfect place for this man -- he is mostly by himself, so he doesn't have to face the unwelcome stares of strangers. His task all day long is to prune, and plant, and create beauty; a job given to a man who many treat as though he takes away beauty. All of the staff at our organization where instructed never to stare or treat him any differently than anyone else; those who did so would face consequences.
I met him a few weeks after he started working... he's already lifting his head and looking others in the eye. He's even taken the big hat off a few times; clearly a sign that he's starting to let down his guard. The restoration is already happening, and it is beautiful. A few days ago, when the kids were in the backyard playing, Seth ran up to him to see what he was doing. At first Seth squatted next to the gardener, watching as he weeded the flowers. When the gardener stood up, Seth did as well, and then reached his hands up to be be picked up. Surprised by Seth's desire, the gardener tentatively picked Seth up. Seth smiled broadly, looked him directly in the eyes, and lovingly patted the man's cheeks with his little hands.
It was so beautiful it took my breath away. This is what it is all about. Restoring the broken; bringing hope to the hopeless; lifting up the downtrodden. It is His Kingdom unleashed in a beautiful and transforming way. We are so thankful that we are able to serve at a place motivated by a desire to see lives rebuilt and restored.
I don't believe it was pure chance that brought this man to a job where generally the only people he sees are little children -- little children who think it is completely normal to only have one leg or to have a twisted arm or to have a large birthmark in a visible place. Children who point and wonder where your scar for your heart surgery is... They aren't terrified of him, because they don't notice anything wrong.
They see him the way His Father sees him, and they are able to show him the Father's love in ways that words could never express.