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Before traveling to Vicente Guerrero in Mexico, I had never even heard of, let alone met, a Oaxacan. They are among the poorest of the poor.

Partly because of their “lowly” heritage and partly because they are indigenous, they are looked down upon by many, so they typically get the crummiest of the crummy jobs. If it’s dangerous or back-breaking or low paying, a Oaxacan is usually doing the task.  My daughter and I were there to learn about them and minister to them, under the care of a beautiful Mexican ministry.

Our host, David, told me that their team regularly delivered a tank of milk to give the kids in one neighborhood some much-needed nutrition. Would we want to drive out with their team, assist them, and help pour the milk? Of course!

The next day, the back of our van rattled, and we could hear the warmish milk sloshing the sides of the metal tub. An unkind gravel path demanded too much of tires, shocks, struts—and passengers. But finally, we arrived.

We were expected because the kids came crashing out of cardboard houses, tents, and other makeshift homes. Clutched in every child's hand was a plastic cup, many of them filthy.

Having been handed a pitcher, I squatted down, one knee in the dirt so that I could reach the kids and their cups. One little fellow cried out, “Mas! Mas!” Even I knew that meant he wanted more. So we gladly refilled his cup. Gulping the milk, he melted into the crowd behind me.

I was so busy filling cup after cup that at first I didn’t feel it. A small hand patted my shoulder. With the kind gesture came the sound of a little boy’s gentle voice: “Amigo!” He couldn’t have been more than four or five. I do not know his name. But he presumed to give me a name I felt I did not deserve—amigo.

My initial thought was, How could I possibly be your amigo? Wouldn’t I do much more with this Mexican ministry instead of showing up for a few days if I was really your amigo? The thought haunted me for years.

But as I now think about that hot morning when we poured warm milk into the cups of those poorest of the poor, Christ’s words come to mind: “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones . . . truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matt. 10:42).

The fact that we wish we should or could have done more does nothing to erase the smallest gesture of kindness we did perform. The least acts of charity matter—not just now, but for eternity! In the amazing economy of Jesus, even giving a cup of milk to a poor Oaxacan boy is noted and somehow marked for future reward!

I think that's a lesson Christ might have been trying to teach me through the voice of a little boy who, in the middle of a hot, dry Mexican morning, downed his second cup of milk, patted me gently on the shoulder, and gave me that kindest of names, “Amigo.” Maybe that’s a message you need to hear, too.


You’ll enjoy a generous collection of stories like this in Kids Say the Wisest Things.  Why not get your copy on Amazon!  And do me the kindness of leaving a review, would you?  Many thanks!


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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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