Nok Yung, 9, has lovely dark Asian eyes and honey-brown skin, her playful smile revealing a cheerful disposition. When she first came to The Well with her young mom five years ago, for some reason she quickly made a special bond with our family, and gives us no small amount of joy. We consider her a granddaughter. She often spends evenings with us, and sometimes weekends.
Later this month I will tell the encouraging story of healing and transformation in Nok Yung’s family. Her mother was a young teen when she was born, and Nok Yung showed signs of trauma during her first year with us. But now she is thriving, thanks to her much-improved home life along with a lot of input by caregivers at The Well. She is a bright, eager learner, strong and athletic, and does well at school.
A couple years ago we attended a wedding at a town along the southeast coast, and Nok Yung went a long. After the wedding we stopped at a beach for a couple of hours. A few others from The Well were with us, including a mother and her daughter Mena, older than Nok Yung but small for her age.
For both girls it was their first ocean experience, and it fell upon me to join them in the water. A moderate wind was blowing some decent size waves onto the beach, which to 50-pound newbies were positively overwhelming. As a waist-high wave would break around me, Nok Yung and Mena clung tightly to each of my legs, screaming delight mixed with terror.
I felt big and strong, a nice manly experience for someone built on the smaller side as I am. Yes, you can count on me, ladies. But then I began to wonder, sadly, about the risk to children, especially of course these two precious ones, from unsafe men who would use their strength to harm.
But this experience also brought home to me the difference we can make in young lives as safe men, who reach out to children with warm eye contact and healthy boundaries. I still remember men who treated me that way when I was young (and thankfully in my case there were plenty). It’s a fun, simple way to follow Jesus that we can all do.