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The Request
What’s better than silver and gold? A young, malnourished African boy knew. His request changed his life.
Guy Kasweka’s absentminded thoughts were interrupted by someone tugging from behind on his sweaty blue shirt.

Guy marveled at his request...

“Shine shoes for you?” asked a shabby, begrimed young boy holding a rag in one hand.

“Fifteen cents,” he added. He was speaking Swahili – a language Guy as a Congolese native knew well.

It was another sweltering day in Congo’s copper mining city, Lubumbashi. Guy was fatigued from travel and family affairs, so he welcomed this small gesture of relief.

The malnourished boy worked his cloth vigorously in all directions across Guy’s dusty shoes. An offensive stench rose from the boy’s filthy body. It was obvious he hadn’t bathed in a long time. Dirt appeared to be ingrained in every pore.

“How old are you?” Guy questioned.

“Fourteen” he mumbled, and finished buffing.

“You go to school?” Guy asked.

“No.”

Guy stood, admiring his newly-shined shoes. “You buy me school supplies, Papa?” the boy blurted, his voice earnest. The words captured Guy’s attention as he met with the boy’s pleading brown eyes. He didn’t ask for food or money, but school supplies. Guy marveled at his request and realized that this boy knew the advantages of being educated. Through education his whole destiny could be altered with knowledge and skills to live a better life.

The boy’s petition reminded Guy of a Bible story. In 1 King’s chapter three, God appeared in a dream to the newly appointed king Solomon and said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”

Solomon answered, “…give me an understanding heart to judge the people…that I may discern between good and evil....” This pleased the Lord, so He granted the king’s entreaty.

“I will call you Solomon,” Guy declared, “for you have asked for wisdom. Come, take me to your home. I’ll do what you have requested of me.”

For many hours thereafter, Guy, driven by the knowledge that his 14-year-old son in Canada lacked nothing, selflessly put aside his own agenda to intervene and help this young African boy. He visited Solomon’s home, met his mother and many others in a small, disheveled compound.

First on the agenda was a “power-washing” for Solomon. It took three attempts to remove the years of caked-on dirt and dissipate the stench. Then Guy enrolled him in school, bought him new clothes and gave Solomon and his mother a promise: ”I will take care of you like my own son, I will be “Papa” to you, for God has put you in my heart. My family and I will remain in touch to care for your needs monthly. From now on, your new life begins. You will gain wisdom, and never have to beg again!”

Guy is a pastor at Lighthouse Church International, Waterdown, Ontario. Because Guy did not miss a boy’s request for wisdom, Lighthouse church is now joyfully engaged in sending the needy children of Congo school supplies. 

Rosalie Schwarm co-pastors with her husband Carsten at Lighthouse Church International, Waterdown, Ontario.

Originally published in the Flamborough Review, November, 2010.

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