Thursday, March 5, 2009

Together in Juarez

The day’s work was done and the cool of the summer evening beckoned my name. We were in the city of Juarez, Mexico, painting and building in an orphanage there. After a scorching day, our team had eaten a simple supper and cleared away the dishes.

I called to my teenage daughter. “Melissa, let’s go practice outside.”

She brought her flute and I carried my guitar to the deserted street outside. We were planning to play for a worship service later in the week.

Only a few of our notes floated through the air before the children began to gather. By the end of the first song, the sidewalk had disappeared under the growing knot children crowded closely from all sides.

We continued on: we needed the practice. I sang a chorus in English, children clinging to every word but understanding none.

I thought they’d get bored quickly. But more children glommed onto the back of the crowd. By now, our fan club overflowed the sidewalk and children stood on the rutted dirt street. We sang song after song, knowing these youth couldn’t understand a word.

As we began another song, the children began to sing. Their sweet young voices began softly but, as their confidence grew, others joined in. The music swelled. The flute took the melody and guitar the chords, but the children seized the song and sang sweetly in Spanish. They knew this song.

That’s how, on a dusty Mexican street, children of Mexico and children of America joined voices and hearts to sing “Amazing Grace.”

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