Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kwashikiorkor Soccer

When I was a boy I lived in Kebayoran Baru, just outside of Jakarta, Indonesia. My house was the last western style 'mansion' carved out of the kampung or urban village. The kampung had few roads and was a clean but disorderly mishmash of tin roofed, concrete floored cottages with plaster walls painted in light pastels. The people were uniformly polite and on the typical day the kampung was as safe as a Church.

In a crowded city on a crowded island the only open space was the street in front of our house. So the local kids played there night and day. Once in a while I'd go out and play soccer with them. I was a small American boy but compared to them I was huge. Some of the children looked rather funny, they had distended bellies, stick thin arms and legs and had either lost their lustrous black Javanese hair or it had turned gasoline colored. They tried to play soccer but they were weak and moved around like old women.

For the first time in my life I was an athletically on top, outrunning these tiny, skinny kids, knocking somebody else down for a change. I was a 'stud'.

I didn't know - wait that's a lie - I didn't want to know that the fat bellies and stick thin limbs were symptoms of Kwashikiorkor - a disease of malnutrition. You see, while all the kids there were malnourished by my standards, the Kwashikiorkor kids were literally starving to death. Yet I knocked them down and exulted in my 'mastery'.

The science says that without aggressive nutritional intervention 2/3rds of KK victims will not live to adulthood. I've asked God for forgiveness for my arrogance, cruelty and willful blindness and I know that he has forgiven me. But I don't go a week now without wincing at the memory.

The truth is that while we can be forgiven for our sins the damage can never completely be repaired on this earth. That's why it is so important to protect your heart from sin in the first place.

My reality is that I earned this cross of shame and I will drag it to my grave.

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