On Sunday, we worshiped with Kenyans at one of the Compassion International projects. As we entered the village, hundreds of children ran up to us. It was the first time I felt mobbed by kids, but in a positive way. They were extremely poor.

Once I entered the church building, I immediately noticed a girl in a pink satin dress, her Sunday best. She had Down Syndrome and was absolutely beautiful.

I found a seat and Gina found me.

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She walked up and smiled. It was the smile of an angel.

She reached out and put both of her hands on my face.

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She moved them slowly, carefully, feeling my face as if she were blind. I sat perfectly still. It was almost a holy moment.

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She finally backed away and found her place at the front of the church, near the worship leader. I sat there and tried to process what had just happened. It was a surreal moment in which I saw raw beauty. Unrefined glory. I was in the presence of one of God’s precious children.

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And then the congregation stood to worship. Gina stood next to the worship leader as if it were a regular place for her and she danced. I looked around to see if anyone was surprised by her behavior, but it seemed to be the norm. No one stopped her or told her to go and sit down. No one whispered in her ear that she was a distraction or a nuisance. I was so thankful they treated her as Jesus would have. I imagined He thought of Gina when He said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”

She lifted her arms and moved them slowly in the air to the music. She closed her eyes and moved to the rhythm as she lifted praises to God. I almost had to look away, like I was interrupting a private moment between this special girl and The Holy One.

Kenyan church services are very long, two to three hours. Gina adored God with every song.

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After the service, she found me again. Once again, she stepped up close to me and caressed my face. I was so humbled by her beautiful gentle act as her eyes looked deeply into mine. I saw a bit of Heaven in her innocent face.

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I’ll never forget the day I was touched by an angel.

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Gina is one of Compassion International’s million sponsored children. She is one of the blessed ones. There are so many who still need a sponsor. Thousands of kids who don’t know the joy of a dependable meal or a Godly social worker concerned for every part of their lives. For such a small price, you can change a life. The life of an angel, like Gina.

Would you consider sponsoring a child today?

by Kristen Welch, We Are THAT Family

* To learn more about Kristen’s journey to Kenya, read the series on her blog.

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  1. 1

    Ooohhhhhhhh…. how ~beautiful~… How did you not cry? <3 What a precious moment.

  2. 2

    What a beautiful experience. Thank you for sharing it, and thank you for how you shared it – moving and emotional without forcing the feeling.
    One thing, though, and I intend this to read sincere and gentle, not accusatory or condesending – people HAVE Down’s, they aren’t Down’s. It’s a subtle difference, but it is a difference nonetheless.

  3. 3

    Absolutely beautiful!

  4. 4

    This is just so beautiful. Like so many of the things you all have shared about, I find it difficult to put into words what I’m experiencing viewing these events second hand. So very beautiful.

  5. 5

    Wow. So simple and so beautiful. So Jesus!
    Praying for you and the entire team.

  6. 6

    absolutely beautiful. thanks for sharing these special moments with us!

  7. 7

    so wonderful to see the dignity of her being respected and celebrated as she praises her Redeemer. Thank you for sharing this beautiful soul with us.

  8. 8

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Who knows when we’ll be visited by angels? right?

  9. 9

    What a beautiful story. Looks like you both were blessed.

  10. 10

    Beautiful. And yes, people HAVE Down Syndrome (not Down’s). It is as much a part of them as you having a certain color eyes. As Rachel said, it’s a subtle difference, but in the shadow of Down Syndrome Awareness Day (3/21/2010) it’s very important to understand the difference.
    Great piece.

  11. 11

    That was an Absolutely Beautiful story! Thanks for sharing. The pictures really brought it to life. You most definitely were touched by an angel! Love it!

  12. 12

    She is a beautiful angel! I can only imagine what an incredible service that must’ve been! I have loved reading about your trip! Praying!

  13. 13

    Can I just share that I have tears in my eyes?

  14. 14

    That is so incredibly beautiful. I am not ashamed to say that as I read this story, I wept. How absolutely heart wrenching. She is so beautiful! I would not have been able to hold my composure in such a moment. Wow!
    I did kind of chuckle at the long service comment. Ours are about the same length…grin

  15. 15

    I’m the mom of a son with Down Syndrome, so this story touched a special place in my heart. My Henry often does the same thing with stroking my face while staring intently in my eyes, so I knew exactly what you were talking about. This WAS a holy moment. God used this beautiful girl to create a new awareness in you and bless you with her gifts. how amazing!! Thank you for sharing the story and the pictures!

  16. 16

    Not only am I crying, but I have goosebumps as I look at the pictures and re-read your story again. What a beautiful girl, a beautiful moment.

  17. 17

    How beautiful your moments were caught in the lens of a camera so that we all could see the glory between the two of you. Thank you! (sniff, sniff)

  18. 18

    What an awesome post. We have one boy on the autism spectrum and another with sensory disorders. Although they are not as severe as the girl in your post, we have had difficulties in churches with acceptance. People don’t realize enough that God uses children, even (maybe especially) challenged children, to teach His people. If only all of God’s people were as accepting as this church in Kenya then perhaps God could work more in all of our lives.

  19. 19

    What an amazing an beautiful experience!!!

  20. 20

    At least several of the Native American tribes ascribe deity to Down’s Syndrome children, most likely for some of the same qualities you mention here. My own daughter is intellectually disabled (or whatever term you choose to give it), and I find that she is the smartest person I know when it comes to what really matters! Somehow, I don’t think Jesus is all that impressed with my degrees, accomplishments or IQ scores….. but I’ll bet he looks at her proudly, and says “That’s MY girl!”

  21. 21

    Kristen, the photos captured this moment so beautifully.
    As I looked at them the song, “surely the presence of the Lord is in THIS place”

  22. 22

    How beautiful, Kristen. Thank you for sharing your trip and experiences like this! What an awe-inspiring moment. Just beautiful.
    Hugs,
    Genny

  23. 23

    Sometimes God blesses us with those moments that can only be described as holy. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful experience!

  24. 24

    I have read every one of your Kenyan posts, Kristen, but now I’m crying. What a beautiful little girl. My brother, who has Down Syndrome and is my heart twin used to do the exact same thing during song services.
    You nailed it on the head…she is an angel.

  25. 25

    I love this post. I really do. I just have one little item that I would like to point out. I person can’t be Down’s Syndrome. They can have Down Syndrome but they can’t be it.
    Otherwise, it was a great post and very sweet.

  26. 26

    I guess if I read this 5 years ago I wouldn’t have caught it but as some have so lovingly pointed out they are children first and then they have down syndrome. Kind of like we wouldn’t say she was cerebral palsy ( One of my girls has down syndrome and the other has cerebral palsy). So maybe cause I deal with it a lot it rubs me the wrong way but other then that it was so touching and beautiful to see. I believe they are God’s earthly angels sent to soften hardened hearts.

  27. 27

    To everyone who read this post, thank you for correcting my ignorance. This in reference to what I wrote at the beginning of this story, “She was Downs Syndrome and was absolutely beautiful” As I wrote this post before I left Kenya, I was not able to make corrections to it due to traveling. If I offended anyone, I am sorry. Please forgive me. This was never my intention.

  28. 28

    Kristen, your heart is beautiful and I think we all know that. Thank you for sharing your sacred moment with us and being so vulnerable by doing so. We love you!

  29. 29

    This was so beautiful. Oh, I felt like I was there. What an incredible moment to tuck away in your heart. When you’ve been touched by God it’s hard to walk away unchanged.