Monday, August 14, 2006

Story: Diamond...

I stood looking down at her. She was dirty, her long hair was matted in places, and her clothes were filthy. Her muddied toes and feet were attached to painfully thin legs, which stuck out beneath a ragged dress that may have been pink when it was new.
"What's your name?" I asked quietly. She mumbled something unintelligible under her breath as she stared at the ground. I crouched down slowly as I did not want to frighten her.
"Sorry, I didn't catch that. What did you say your name is?" "Diamond." She whispered. "That's a beautiful name!" I replied. "No, it's not!" She retorted. She was looking at me now with huge green eyes. I could see speckles of gold in her irises. Her face was perfectly formed, except for a split lip, which was due to the ravages of a dry winter. Diamond had been crying. I could tell by the pale pink streaks that ran down her face. The little girl was about 8 or 9 years old, although her hands looked older. Her bare arms were now crossed over her chest defensively. She looked at me quizzically as she tilted her head to one side.
"What are you staring at?" She asked with a false sense of bravado. "The most beautiful girl in the whole world!" "That's not what my Mommy says! She says I'm ugly, and a mistake. She says that my name should be Coal, not Diamond! The men that come home with Mommy laugh at me, and she makes jokes. Then they start drinking and push me out and lock the door." Her conversation was getting heated.
"Where do you go?" "I run around and look in the dustbins ... and stuff! Sometimes I go to Auntie."
"Doesn't your Mommy bath you and buy you clothes and feed you?" "There is no hot water, so Mommy baths at an Auntie's house. She says that there is no money for clothes! She sometimes gives me McDonalds which only have a few bites out, and lots of chips!" She was very excited at the last statement.
"Where is Auntie's house? Will you show me?" I ventured. "Okay." Surprisingly she grabbed my hand and started to drag me towards a run-down apartment block. It had boarded up windows and smelled of damp and urine. There was graffiti on the walls and broken glass under foot. Diamond led me up to the first floor and stopped at a green painted door, which had seen some serious battles. She looked up at me expectantly.
"Well?" She asked, once again cocking her head to the side. I raised my hand and knocked warily. I couldn't believe it, I was nervous! The door handle turned and the damp swollen door opened and inch, halted by the security chain. "Yes?" came the greeting from Auntie. She looked about 90 and her gnarled frame was hunched over. Auntie's face was like that of a weather battered fisherman I had seen in a National Geographic somewhere.
"Do you know this little girl?" I asked hesitantly. "Yeeessss." Auntie replied cautiously. "May I come in?""Okay."
Auntie's real name was Mavis Bradshaw and she had lived there since 1967. She was widowed and received a pitiful pension. Mavis had known Diamond and her mother for seven months. The story that unfolded was one of domestic violence, alcoholism, drug abuse and a discarded waif named Diamond. Emotionally taken aback, I could barely speak when I stood to leave. I whispered goodbye and as I started toward the door Mrs. Bradshaw said;
"You have to help her! I prayed that Jesus would send an angel to come and take her away! You have to be that angel!" "I...I..." I stuttered absolutely speechlessly. " will see what I can do." I told Diamond and to Mrs Bradshaw I said; "Please look after her until I come back!"I crouched down again and lifted her chin with my finger;
"Remember, you are beautiful! Jesus sees you just the way you should be! Just like a real diamond!"
I had some contacts in Social Services and also at a shelter for battered women and children. So I arranged for Diamond and her mother to be assisted at a 'safe house' until a more permanent solution could be found for them.
I arrived back at Mrs Bradshaw's house 3 days later, nervous, but determined to present this positive option to Diamond's mother. Surely she would jump at the opportunity to make a better future for herself and Diamond. I knocked on Mrs Bradshaw's green battle-scarred door.
"Yeeesss", sounded the familiar voice from behind the door. "Hi, it's me! I've found a place for Diamond and her mother. I've come to talk to them about it!" I was nearly shouting with excitement!
Mrs. Bradshaw opened the door slowly, she seemed to have aged 10 years if that was at all possible! "They've gone. The room is empty. I heard Diamond tell her mother that an angel, 'that's what Auntie said he is,' was coming to take her away to a better place. She defiantly told her mother; 'Guess what? I am beautiful, just like a Diamond! How come you can't see it, the angel said that Jesus sees me just like a real diamond. Beautiful!'"
The tears were streaming down her elderly cheeks. It seemed strange to me that her tears looked like diamonds rolling down her face. I realised with a start that I too had begun to cry. My chest started to constrict, I couldn't breathe, and I felt nauseous as that helpless, hopeless feeling came over me. I think I muttered a goodbye. I dragged myself out and as I drove home to my wife and two children, I cried out; "Why?...Why?...Why Lord? I had everything planned! They had a shot at a better life!" I realised that I had begun to shout.
The Lord reminded me of His Word where he says: that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He also knows the plan He has for our lives, plans for good and not for disaster, for a future full of hope.
Diamond had made a huge impact on my life and I knew that I would never forget the beautiful little urchin that had touched my heart.
Seven years later, my wife and I were visiting some friends at their church. The Pastor called for testimonies. I always look forward to hearing what God has done in the lives of His people. I expectantly scanned the church to see who would be first to share their blessings with us. A young lady stood up near the front of the church. She walked up to the pulpit confidently. Her face looked familiar, but I couldn't place it. Then she shared her amazing testimony of how Jesus had kept her safe, had provided for her through extremely difficult and abusive circumstances and as she talked my heart really went out to her. I praised God for His Mercy, Grace, and Love. Her eyes held my attention as she spoke, the most beautiful green with flecks of gold... What she said next, changed my life forever.
"It all began when an angel stopped to speak to me! He said, 'Remember, you are beautiful! Jesus sees you just the way you should be! Just like a real...


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