Sheer terror flooded through me – the bed was empty! I gave the room a frantic once over but little Kumiko was not here. I bolted from the room shrieking, “Greg! Come quick! She’s gone!”
My husband burst through the living room doors, his face a mask of alarm, “What?”
I pointed at the empty bed, “Kumiko’s gone, Greg. Quick, you check the back door, I’ll try the front one!”
We sprinted off in opposite directions. I could never remember having felt such dread nor sense of failure. My husband and I were foster parents, a decision we had reached prayerfully after learning I was barren. We had previously short-term fostered five children. Kumiko was the sixth and came with an option to adopt if it worked out – but she had escaped!
The front door was still deadlocked so I turned and darted to the back door only to meet my husband as he was returning from it.
“Back door’s still locked,” he panted.
I gripped the sides of my face in anguish, “We have to find her, Greg! This is her first day with us and she was only entrusted to us because of our Christian Counselling qualifications. They are counting on us to help her!”
“Okay, let’s split up and check each room. Check every window. Maybe she climbed out one?” said Greg as he ran off.
As I hurried to the master bedroom the day’s memories raced through my mind.
“It’s alright, Kumiko, you don’t have to eat it if you don’t like it. We can get you something else,” Greg said gently at dinnertime when she started retching while eating her carrots.
But she forced herself to eat everything on her plate, even though she kept retching. “No, I won’t be naughty. I’ll eat it all, Mr Hodges. Please don’t hurt me.”
“Sweetie, you don’t need to worry any more. Jillian and I will never hurt you, we promise.”
The window was locked so I hurried to the study while sniffing back tears. Was she outside somewhere, terrified, alone, running for her life in a strange neighborhood? A memory of tonight’s bath time filled my mind.
I helped the little half-Japanese, half-Aussie girl into the bath. But when I picked up the cloth to wash her I had to hold my breath to stop sobbing like a baby. Her tiny legs were covered with scars from cigarette burns. How could anyone do this to a small child?
“Right, we’ve checked every door and window and all are locked so she must still be in the house,” Greg concluded.
“Jesus, please, help us! Where is our foster daughter?” I pleaded.
And then I had it. I sprinted back to her room, switched on the light and knelt down to look under the bed. And sure enough, Kumiko was there with her back pressed against the wall, tears streaming down her fearful face.
I held out my arms, “It is alright, Kumiko, you can come out now.”
“But I heard the floorboards creaking! Daddy’s here! He’s going to hurt me again!” she wailed.
Greg knelt down too. “It’s just us, Kumiko. Your Daddy is in prison; he can’t hurt you any more. You’re safe now.”
She came out from under the bed and I took her into my arms. “Why don’t you come and sleep with me, sweetie? You can sleep with me every night. I’ll keep you safe.”
She nodded meekly, “That would be nice, thankyou.”
Ten minutes later Kumiko was lying tensely beside me in bed. My heart was breaking and I did not know what to do. But Someone did. So I prayed softly over Kumiko in my private prayer language, letting the Holy Spirit pray through me in a language I had never learnt. “Iesu-sama, kite watashitachi no musume o nagusamete. Kanojyo no kizutsuita kokoro o iyashite, kokoro no rousoku ni hi o tsukete.”
Kumiko spoke suddenly, “I didn’t know you spoke my Mummy’s language?”
I was shocked. “That was Japanese? What did I say, Kumiko?”
“It was lovely,” she said, “you said ‘Jesus, come and comfort our daughter. Heal her bruised heart, relight her heart’s candle.’ Thank you, Mrs Hodges for being so nice. I’m not so scared any more.”
The little child whose alcoholic father abused her and murdered her mother relaxed in my arms and fell into the deepest, trouble free sleep of her little life.
I held her and delighted in the compassion of our Lord. The healing process had begun.
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