“Just kill it! Don’t just watch it jump off her head!” “But look, there are so many!” my young friend exclaimed.

I couldn’t believe it. I could actually see the lice jumping off of her head. Her long, thick, black hair was just the right home that the small bugs enjoy. I have never had head lice before. Growing up, just thinking about having lice gave me the shivers. Having the school nurse declare you had lice – what an embarrassment and label you would be stuck with for the rest of your school days! As young children my siblings and I loved playing the game Cootie, but to actually have them was another thing. Now here I am washing my hair with the insecticide-smelling shampoo. If only my school mates could see me now – the “teacher’s pet” having someone pick through my hair finding one bug after another.

Just how close do I get to the people I am called to minister? I mean how close do I physically sit? How much do I love them? What else might I be risking besides a head full of lice? It takes more than two hands now to count the number of times I have had to go through this shampooing to stop the crawling sensation that comes over my head when I know I have been infected.

My young friend, who did kill the louse that we saw jumping around, was the first of several women that God has brought across my path to love. She had never felt the comfort and love of a mother until I uttered those words to her, “I love you.” Her own mother, still living, has never expressed any real love to her. Her experiences of living at home before she was married at the age of sixteen and a half include her mother punishing her by grabbing hold of a lock of hair and hitting her head against the wall, her father leaving home for weeks at a time because he could not endure the abuse his wife dished out, and the labor she and her younger sibling had to do while her mother sat around giving orders.

“God, I love to work with children. Did you forget that? They are so much fun and bring so much joy. They listen and easily return my love and affection. But adults? Women? They really were not a part of what I wanted to do for you.”

As a young nine-year old camper when I was listening to the evening speaker I decided to give my life to the Lord to serve him as a global worker. I recall envisioning myself sitting on the hard mud floor in a village setting with my flannel graph pictures in hand telling Bible stories to eager young children. Now here I sit on the hard cement tiles in my second floor apartment in the second largest city in the country telling Bible stories to the young single and married women who come to my sewing classes. Some of them cannot even remember one week later who I was talking about so I repeat the lesson from the last two weeks.

Lice again. Oh, good I still have a little bit of shampoo left in the bottle.

Then just three days ago I sat with tears in my eyes as I finished praying with my friend’s twelve-year old sister. I led my friend to the Lord four and a half years ago, and now here her sister sits praying the same prayer of salvation. Both of them have been the culprits of giving me lice. However, because I had gotten over the uneasiness of sitting physically close to them the angels are rejoicing over the spiritual birth of yet another young woman in this land where traditionally women are looked upon as dumb and not worthy of educating.

Did Jesus have lice? I do not know. But I do know that He was willing to love the people and meet them in their individual situations. He was willing to take time to minister to the needs of people who were typically overlooked or purposefully avoided. I also know that His example of loving the people is what I want to imitate. Curing lice, I have found it quite simple and effective. I have become used to the idea that I need to periodically break out the lice shampoo bottle and now I do not panic when I feel my head beginning to crawl. It does serve as a reminder, though, that I am to show the love of Jesus to those with home I live and work even if it means I must suffer in this small way.


©2004 Thrive

View the original print magazine where this article was first published.