“Dear God, please give the boy another chance …”
I suddenly became aware of what was happening. I looked around and wondered if I’d heard right. My little five-year-old boy was on his knees praying confidently to someone he knew would hear him. His words were very serious, but trusting. He quietly looked around when he was done. Then got up and said, “Mum, can I have an ice cream?”
I was still in shock and recovering from what had just happened. Struggling to make sense of it all. And my son had quietly moved on.
A frightening experience
It all happened about an hour ago after our oldest son’s class picnic. We were on our way to the car which was parked far down the street. We were all looking down, trying to side-step the cracks in the street, when we heard the loud screech of tires of a large car going in the opposite direction. Everyone looked up without thinking.
We were all shocked by what happened next. The driver, who looked like he was in his late teens, rolled down his window and screamed swear words at us! He screamed at us to “go back to where we came from”, and then threw in a few more loud words in a language we didn’t understand, while pointing threateningly at us all the time.
It was mid-afternoon and there were no other people in the street and a quick look around told me that no help was near. I prayed a quick prayer and we ran to our van. I heard the car start up again and my heart was beating fast. I didn’t know if he was turning around to come back. The kids were upset. “Why was he screaming at us, Mum?” “What was he saying?” “Call Daddy!” – the kids were asking as I struggled to drive out of our tight parking spot.
Dealing with it
What had just happened? What was I going to say to them? How would I explain to them that we had been abused just because of our skin colour? Would this affect their school year? Would we need to change schools? What if they got nightmares? What if the driver came back and tried to hurt them when they were leaving school another day?
Racism had once again shown its horrible ugliness when least expected, and I didn’t know what to say. Childhood memories of being bullied for my skin colour came rushing back and wanted to take control of me. I fought against the fearful thoughts that threatened to take over and prayed to God to help me and give me wisdom to know what to say to my two little boys.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV).
When we got home, we sat down and talked. I told them that they never needed to be afraid of anyone. I showed them what the “apple of our eye” was, and I explained to them that if anyone ever hurt them, they would be hurting God’s eye.
“For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.” Zechariah 2:8.
I also told them never to be afraid to stand up and fight to defend themselves. I gave them all the self-defence tips I could think of, that I had ever used. I hugged them close to me and together we prayed. I started and thanked Jesus for keeping us safe and asked Him once again to protect my little boys and be with them and to let them know that He was there with them always.
Father, forgive them
Then came the little voice: “Dear God, please give the boy another chance…”
And that’s when it really hit me. That was the prayer similar to one that had been prayed more than 2000 years ago.
“Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34.
In my righteous anger, I had forgotten to forgive. In the end, that is all that actually matters for our eternity. To react like Jesus. It had taken a little boy to remind me; it will be a lesson I will never forget – “out of the mouth of babes.”