Meet Nathaniel's friend Pierre.
Nine years ago our pastor met Pierre in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was about eleven years old, although there were no clear records of his age. His parents were deceased. Pierre stood out from the other children our pastor met on that trip; he suffered severe scoliosis. One bend in his spine was one hundred twenty-three degrees, crushing his internal organs, and reducing his lung capacity to just a third. When our pastor returned from Congo, Pierre's photograph went before the congregation. A host family was found, a doctor was found, a hospital was found, money was found and now with just a forty-five degree curvature to his spine, Pierre pushed Nathaniel's stroller into church last Sunday.
When Pierre first met Nathaniel last fall, he cried. He understands being the boy with the broken body. He cried every time he saw Nathaniel until one day I put Nathaniel in his arms during communion. As the congregation shared the broken body of Jesus Christ, these two shared the beginnings of a friendship.
I was alone without the family at church last Sunday, and before I walked two feet from my car, Pierre was at my side to help and love on Nathaniel. He sat with us during worship. I asked him if I could take his photo because I want to keep this living visual of God at work in this world. This young man, who would probably not be alive today had not the Father of compassion moved the hearts of men and women, quietly comforting Nathaniel. Two orphans with broken bodies welcomed. Being healed. Being loved. This does not just happen.
The full story represented by this picture is amazing by any standard. It would be easy to praise the pastor who first sought to help Pierre, or his new American family, or the medical team that repaired his spine or our family helping Nathaniel, or the medical team that saved his life at birth, or the ones that will someday reconstruct Nathaniel's trachea. But this picture does deeper things in my heart than bring humans praise. It wipes away doubt that God fulfills His word. He sees orphans in their distress. He does not forsake them. He heals. He restores. He places the lonely in families. He is a God who does not shy away from delivering on what He promised. This is a picture of the Living Word. In black and white.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-5