This is one of my favorite photos from my first trip to Cotonou, Benin in July of 2009. I went to church with the Director of Wycliffe Benin that Sunday. All through the service I was taking photos. It was a beautiful service with all kinds of special music and drama from the children and teens–such a great day to be there to take photos.
This photo came after everything was done. Nearly everyone had left, and this little girl came up to me and said in her small voice, “Can you take a picture of me?” Then she stood perfectly still while I took a couple of photos of her. I showed her one of the photos, and she smiled big and laughed.
She had such courage to approach me – someone she didn’t know. Her small smile captured the beauty of who she was on the inside.
It reminds me of what Jesus says about children:
Matthew 18:2-5, NIV: [Jesus] called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
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.”
Jesus’ value for us is not dependent on status. Every person, including every child, is important in his eyes. He sees in children a faith, an innocence, an imagination unhindered by the some of the experiences that strip us of creativity and our ability to believe as we grow older. As we become adults we become hardened by the world. When I look at this little girl, I am reminded of who God wants me to be.