[For the Rules, click here.]
"Will your stepfather let you read the Word of God to her?"
"Oh, no; he says all books are bad but the Koran. But I shall read it in the granary when my mother is grinding corn and I shall read it to my sister Rahma when we tend the goats on the mountain. My father will never know."
"But later on, Hamid, he will have to know, if you are going to follow Jesus faithfully. You will have to tell him and he may beat you. But Jesus suffered a great deal for you because He loved you. If you love Him, you must be willing to suffer a little, too."
He turned thoughtful, troubled eyes on her.
"I do love Him very much," he said wistfully, and rose to go, leaving his friend well content with his answer. He had not boasted, nor made any great profession. He had simply laid claim to the greatest power in the universe--"I love Him," that lonely little boy facing his perilous future had said, and many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.
Author: Patricia M. St. John
Synopsis: When Hamid's baby sister Kinza is found to be blind, his new stepfather plans to sell her to a beggar. Desperate to save her child, their mother straps Kinza to Hamid's back and sends him over the mountains in the night, telling him to look for the English missionary nurse in a distant town. Hamid leaves Kinza on the nurse's doorstep and stays in the town, running wild in the streets with other homeless boys, and keeping watch to see how Kinza fares in the missionary's home. When his stepfather sees Kinza and kidnaps her, Hamid must overcome his fears and assist the missionary in finding her and bringing her back to safety. Only his newfound Friend can give him the courage he needs.
* * *
I have loved every last one of St. John's books that I've read; this is my favorite, probably for the quote above, which by the time I get to the Song of Solomon reference has almost always made me cry. It is a children's story and the faith lessons are not unlike those learned in any Vacation Bible School, but put in the context of the story--where they have serious consequences--they yield a real power and hope.
Best yet, it is partially based on a true story; Patricia St. John herself lived in Morocco, and knew the situation there from the inside. All of Hamid's comments about Christ were made to the author by a real little homeless boy. The one I quoted above generally brings me to tears.