“Ma’am, come quick! A little girl fell!”

I saw a dark head bobbing, surrounded by classmates offering words of comfort and hope. It would be ok, it was just an accident, she didn’t mean to push you, we were just playing. The girls turned and offered me six versions of what happened, none of them fully intelligible, but each assuring me that it was nobody’s fault. Nobody should get in trouble for this.

I asked the little brown one if she could walk, then put my arm around her and led her inside, telling the other girls to stay behind. My own knees and elbows are scarred from clumsy attempts at rollerblading and bicycling, so I knew exactly what to do. We went to the bathroom, where I gently washed her hands and patted them dry, making sure no sand had gotten into the small scrapes. I remembered walking into my mother’s kitchen one summer afternoon with blood streaming down my legs, and sitting at the table with a glass of water while she bandaged my knees. I led the little girl to a chair, poured a glass of water, and covered a tiny scratch on her knee with a wet napkin. There must be some strange magic in a well-timed glass of water, because she stopped crying.

After a few minutes I led her back outside, asking every girl we passed to come with me, and started a rousing game of “simon says.” Sometimes the best way to get over an injury is to create distance, to think about something else until the pain goes away. The patient was “simon” first, and within five minutes she was laughing again. Before I left the girls to their game, I asked one of them which village their friend was from, and she looked surprised that I didn’t know already. “She’s from my village, the daughter of the Orthodox priest.”

Rewind to three days earlier, when a church group from America started setting up for a week of day camp with children from surrounding villages. They recounted stories from last summer, their favorite being about one of them meeting a local priest and listening to him tell about his duties and the life of the church. Members of protestant churches often ask about the Orthodox tradition, but rarely do they listen without offering a rebuttal. The priest was so impressed by this show of friendship that he actually sent his daughter to their Baptist day camp, where she heard the pure Gospel. And when the group came back this year, he sent his daughter again. It's amazing how little effort it takes sometimes to show kindness, and even more amazing what can happen as a result.

I told the Priest’s daughter to tell her father I’d taken good care of her. I wanted to make sure she came back the next day, and she did. I saw her sitting with a group during morning assembly, all lined up against a wall and giggling. Then another girl approached, slightly round and with one lazy eye, and asked to sit with the group. Not finding a seat, she started to sniffle and I asked the group to move over a little, but they didn’t. After asking a second time, I became frustrated and the girl's sniffles grew into a full cry. Then, as the program began, I saw the little dark one slip out of place. She scooted over and put her arm around the crying girl in the same way I’d put my arm around her the day before. Then, turning her back on the unaccepting classmates, the Priest’s daughter took her new friend and sat somewhere else.

So that’s the story of how the Orthodox Priest’s daughter came to a Baptist day camp, how she and her father both learned about kindness, and how these two became friends.

"And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

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