I just returned from a trip to Ghana. The group I was with delivered school, health and medical supplies to the village of Kpone Bawaleshie. The people in this suburb of Accra are nearly overwhelmed by need. The school had no running water in their washroom facilities. All the classrooms were packed with students. The teacher of Class 3 told me there were 63 students in her one room that day. One teacher, 63 students, up to four students per small wooden desk, and no visible books. It was extremely hot and humid. There was no other ventilation than that provided by shutterless windows and open doors.
But the very most important ingredient in this mix was there: hundreds of happy, excited, beautiful children ran around and reached out to us, and we reached out just as readily. There was an irresistible desire to touch one another, with curiosity, of course, but also with gentleness, acceptance and gratitude for being in the same place at the same time. We shared a few hugs, many handshakes and high fives, or just let our fingers graze briefly. We were all delighted with our encounter.
As I pondered later, it occurred to me that we could completely change the world if we all reached out to one another in this way, hand to hand in friendship and heart to heart in goodwill.
During His mortal ministry, the Savior both reached out to others and invited them to reach out to him. Taking a blind man by the hand and blessing him, Jesus Christ restored his sight (Mark 8:22-25). Parents brought their children to the Lord with the hope that He would only touch them, and He told His disciples to “suffer the little children to come unto me … for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Mark 10:13-14). In Luke 6:19, we read that a “whole multitude sought to touch him,” and He summoned them.
Those beautiful Ghanian children and we American visitors yearned to reach out and touch one another in peace, so we did. The Savior continues to reach out to us, encouraging us to come unto Him, be made whole, and find His eternal peace. And we can.
Artwork by Simon Dewey, Abide With Me, 2005