These Bones Will Not Go To Waste

Meet Gift.

Gift was born to a young mother with HIV. At four months he was discovered severely malnourished and deathly ill. He didn’t cry. He didn’t have the energy.

12295370_909410635811658_2755680618521787936_nGift’s mother took him to the witch doctor for treatment. The ‘treatment’ included cutting Gift’s fontanel (the soft spot on top of a baby’s head) and rubbing a mixture of cow dung and herbs into the open wound. The infection that followed the treatment rendered Gift blind in one eye.

When I first met Gift he was a toddler. He was living in a town where (alongside the realities of malnourished babies, vulnerable women, and powerful witchdoctors) there was no organized trash collection. Take a minute and imagine your own neighborhood with no formal garbage retrieval. What would your neighborhood look like after a few months? After several years?

This trash reality depresses me as much as anything sometimes – I know that sounds weird, and likely shallow. I watch the children run to school, often barefoot, on paths littered with broken glass. Toddlers play in fields full of refuse. The ground cries out. The earth groans. The stunning beauty of Africa is hidden under so much rubbish.

Several visits ago – the year I met Gift – I spent a day with a team of home-based care workers who provide the most basic hospice care “…to those who are busy dying.” Many of these local saints are impoverished themselves. Several are also chronically ill. All are exceptionally generous and overwhelmingly weary.

At the end of that day, I perched with the team in the bed of a pick-up truck. We ate a simple picnic supper while I looked around bitterly at all the debris in the street. Finished with my chicken wing, I searched (in vain) for a trash can to dispose of the bones.

“Throw the bones down.” one caregiver said to me.

I didn’t understand and tried to explain, “Oh! It’s OK…I’ll just grab this bag…and we can all just put our chicken bones in here…and I’ll throw them out later….”

I was so concerned about LITTERING that it was like a hard slap when she said, “Throw them down on the ground, Kim, these bones will not go to waste.”

These bones will not go to waste.

Gift is no longer with us. He died before he was old enough to begin school.

These bones will not go to waste.

Gift was buried in a simple box provided by a very good man – a saint – who still provides dignity and love to those who would otherwise live and die with none.

These bones will not go to waste.

Another little boy was happy to unwrap the soccer outfit I had brought for Gift. Other barefoot children happily skipped away with his favorite cherry lollipops raised high. I watched the wrappers flutter in the street behind them.

These bones will not go to waste.

I think about Gift often. And when I do I always give thanks for the faithful saints who found him, loved him, and called him by name. I pray those who continue in this difficult kingdom work day after day – with little reward, recognition, support, or thanks.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

These workers make the invisible kingdom of God visible. They shine warm light into the dark and breath new life into dry bones. Let us continue to remember them, encourage them, and pray for them all as they serve the King.

Thy kingdom come; on earth as it is in heaven.


PS. It’s Giving Tuesday! And it’s World AIDS day (December 1)! And it’s Advent – the time we are expectantly waiting for the King! If you would like to write a note of encouragement to some of the hospice workers in South Africa, or send a Christmas gift to one of the special saints there, please let me know. I’d be delighted to connect you…

23 responses to These Bones Will Not Go To Waste

  1. emily says:

    I would like to send a gift to the workers in africa. Please send me contact info. Thanks.

  2. Katie says:

    Hi Kim! Your story about Gift is very humbling, often we don’t think about people and children going through these experiences in their lives because we are so wrapped up in our own. I would like to send the workers a card and gift. Please let me know. Thank you.

  3. Jen says:

    May I have an address that I could send a letter or a card please? Jen From: Given Breath To: Sent: Tuesday, December 1, 2015 9:45 AM Subject: [New post] These Bones Will Not Go To Waste #yiv1082618504 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1082618504 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1082618504 a.yiv1082618504primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1082618504 a.yiv1082618504primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1082618504 a.yiv1082618504primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1082618504 a.yiv1082618504primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1082618504 | Given Breath posted: “Meet Gift.Gift was born to a young mother with HIV. At four months he was discovered severely malnourished and deathly ill. He didn’t cry. He didn’t have the energy.Gift’s mother took him to the witch doctor for treatment. The ‘treatment’ included cut” | |

  4. Given Breath says:

    Emily! I sent you some info:) Katie – would you send me your email?

    Thank you both so much. Peace to you and yours… Kim

  5. Joan Page says:

    HI, your story is moving. Thanks so much for sharing about “Gift” and others like him. Each one is special to our God. Thanks for sending me details on how I can help . I would like to send a box of useful items if you would also please make some suggestions. Blessings!

  6. Kongo Mum says:

    Such a moving story. May Gift rest in peace, and my the Lord continue to give strength to those who look after the poor and weak.

  7. Kara Shires says:

    I would love to send a “gift” this Christmas to these sweet selfless people who lay down their lives for others!
    God Bless!

  8. Given Breath says:

    Carrie and Kara: Thank you both. I have sent you some more information via email. Peace to you both this Advent. Kim

  9. DL Sheppard says:

    Please send correspondence information. I’d like to send what I can.

  10. Cara Derounian says:

    Hi Kim,

    Thanks so much for sharing Gift’s story. How would we go about sending a note or gift to these lovely people? Hope you are doing well!


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