Lauren came to the old park next to her church in the La Lisa district of Havana regularly. Even though it was in disrepair, the park was a special place of comfort for her. Eleven year’s old, Lauren attends 6th grade at a public school where most children come from atheist families – a result of the communist regime’s ideology and propaganda over the years. Lauren is one of only a few Christian children that attend her school. She would often carry her Bible with her to class. Lauren was routinely teased for her faith. One day, during a particularly vicious incident, a few of the class bullies grabbed Lauren’s Bible out of her hands and tore the pages out, saying it was “just a bunch of dumb lies”. Lauren felt the ripping inside her heart.

Just a few weeks ago, when the Kids Around the World team arrived at the park next to Lauren’s church, she was there. Eager to be part of whatever excitement might be taking place. When told that the team had come all the way from the United States (a rare thing in Cuba) to fix up the park and build, not just one… but three playgrounds, her eyes lit up. This equipment was a valuable resource to the community and the local church. A strategy to help pastors and youth workers engage families in the neighborhood, develop relationships and plant seeds of faith in this neglected part of Havana. But Lauren did not care about that.

When she asked again about the meaning of the playgrounds, one of the team volunteers turned around, looked her in the eyes, and smiled. “This playground is not really from us, or the United States… it’s a gift from God to you. He wanted you to have it. And He wants you to know, more than anything, that He loves you.” Lauren’s shoulders pulled back, and her chin went up as her face beamed. In that moment her confidence exploded. God had seen her tears. She felt Him saying He was proud of her and was watching over her.

Now, regardless of the day’s challenges, when Lauren plays in her special park, she is reminded… and smiles.

This Story of Hope was made possible by the Kids Need Fund. Visit kidsneedfund.org to find out how you can help make stories of hope happen every day.


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