The first time I knew for sure that I had seen the face of Jesus was when I met a boy named Matthew at a Romanian Orphanage. I had been warned of the “horrors” and told that if I didn’t want to see him and others like him that I could stay outside of their special room. I had been warned to say nothing of the experience while still in Romania because it was illegal for me to even be allowed in this particular orphanage and to speak of it put their workers in danger. Internationals and especially Americans were no longer allowed to be in these places. They are not allowed to adopt these children. Americans are allowed in the mission organization orphanages but not the government run facilities. I just happened to be hosted by a wonderful woman that once worked there and she arranged for my visit after a few days of long conversation over morning coffee.
Nothing just happens. It was a part of a great plan.
The orphanages are dark, old, and ill equipped…but their workers love the children and do the best they can with what few resources they have and within what they are allowed by law to do. Many sacrifice food and other things we would consider necessity to supplement the milk and food of these that they have grown to love so.
As I arrived at the orphanage I prayed that the Lord would help me to be able to look into the face of anything and anyone with love and without flenching. I remembered past experiences with people that had been victims of accidents and crime and having a hard time looking into their eyes. I didn’t want that to be what I left with and what I left them with.
Matthew was a little boy with a head so big that he could not sit or stand and could only lay to the side. In America we would call that hydrocelphalus or water on the brain. In America we would have treatments and special hospitals and special therapy. In Romania these children are immediately deserted and put into orphanages where they will spend the rest of their lives or until their eighteenth birthday. In Romania even the mentally challenged are set aside and out of the orphanages to fend for themselves at the age of eighteen..unless a mission organization agrees to take them in.
Matthew lay in his little crib all day, every day. He could not speak and his eyesight was poor. His head was much to big and it caused everything to be much too unstable to allow for us to hold him. He was rotated from side to side every few hours but his head had grown and flattened. His head was twice as big as his little body that had not grown much at all. Matthew’s body look to be about 3 months old. Matthew was three years old.
I remember walking up to him and I all I wanted to do was touch his face…so I did. And he smiled. It was then I saw Him…it was the face of Jesus! I knew it, for sure. I didn’t cry then like I did for so many days afterward and as I do to this day when I think of his smile. His beautiful face. I had a hard time pulling myself away. He was by far the most beautiful child I have ever seen. I was not allowed to take pictures so in the moments I had with him, I memorized his face and his body. I can see him today as though it were yesterday.
I have often wondered why God would allow a little boy to just lay there but I kind of know. I pray that every day someone can see what I saw and I know that one day I will see him again.
Since that very moment I have been able to see the face of Jesus in so many people. God allows it. Sometimes I am in awe and kind of taken breathless and speechless. I wonder if they even know what I can see in them.
The Bible says of Jesus almost what I was told of little Matthew – In Isaiah 53:2: “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”
Oh that I could go again and take you to that orphanage to see the face of Jesus in a little boy named Matthew!!! Since I can’t do that yet…I just look around.