Growling playfully, Teddy, my scruffy little brown and white dog, pounced at the rubber ball again and again. Fifteen-year-old Peter sprawled on the linoleum floor at Teddy’s eye level, laughing with delight at his new-found friend.
Along with the seven other teenagers who slept on the floor of this small apartment in East Asia, Peter was a refugee in hiding. These kids, aged 14-21, had all escaped from a life of hunger, fear, and death.
A Story of Tragedy
Peter’s story, sadly, was typical. Life in his home country had been one tragedy after another. First his father got sick. There was no available medicine or treatment, and eventually he died. Next his uncle got sick and died. Then his grandfather also died, leaving Peter, his brother, sister, mother, and grandmother to fend for themselves.
Then one day, soldiers burst into Peter’s home with guns, demanding to know why the family was giving precious food to their two little dogs when their neighbors were hungry. And without warning, the soldiers shot the dogs, taking the bodies for meat. Peter was a small, wide-eyed boy who saw it all.
It was years later when my Canadian roommate and I met Peter and the other kids in a safe-house across the border from their home country. We spent a week together in that little house during the Lunar New Year holiday – 8 teenagers, 2 foreign teachers, and one dog – making pot-stickers and rice, having English lessons, and learning about the God who binds up the broken-hearted.
Healing for the Wounded Heart
Watching Peter laughing and wrestling with my dog Teddy, I was amazed at God’s loving care for this fifteen-year-old boy who had seen so much suffering. Before I ever met Peter or heard his story, God arranged for my roommate and me to spend the New Year with these kids in their tiny apartment, bringing along our friendly little dog, who would do more to heal Peter’s wounded heart than any of us could have imagined.
“O LORD, You have searched me and You know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.
…You hem me in – behind and before; You have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139: 1-6, NIV)