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Like a Child

Mpho* is among the throng of kids who come to our house to play. She is a beautiful 9-year-old girl, and I have made it my mission to befriend her.

A few months ago Mpho was excited about coming with us to our soccer outreach. When the time came to leave she was at our gate early with her baby brother. I did not have an infant car seat, nor did I want to be responsible for him while coaching soccer. We were running late, so I simply told Mpho the baby couldn’t come. She disappeared then reappeared moments later without the toddler.

Neighborhood children playing with the Harrell boys in their backyard. Photo by Megan Harrell.
Neighborhood children playing with the Harrell boys in their backyard. Photo by Megan Harrell.
During soccer Mpho was distant, and I sensed something was very wrong. After we dropped her off I did not see her again for several weeks. I inquired about her to the neighborhood kids. They said she’d been sent away.

Just the other day I saw her and I asked if she had gotten in trouble because of me. She nodded her head in affirmation. She wouldn’t look at me. With her head still down she said, “My parents shouted. They beat me.”

You see, Mpho, in her childlike excitement to be included in soccer hadn’t taken her brother home that day, but had left him with a friend. I felt a profound sense of regret and all I could do was apologize.

Mpho finally lifted her head and stared straight into my eyes. She said wholeheartedly, “I forgive you,” and ran away. I don’t recall ever feeling so completely forgiven.

The plight of the Basotho is well documented. However, I believe they are sitting at a vantage point to comprehend the essence of forgiveness. Mpho seems to understand mercy better than most adults. I believe it is because she has had to forgive so much already in life. It is my heart’s desire to see many in this nation grasp the eternal forgiveness of Christ, with faith like that of a child.

*Name changed for privacy’s sake.


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