Just to Touch the Hem

Just to Touch the Hem; 2014; 29" x 21"; mixed media: watercolor and pastel.

Just to Touch the Hem; 2014; 29″ x 21″; mixed media: watercolor and pastel.

Nairobi, June 2005

She refused to eat. Her forehead felt warm. She cried incessantly. Nothing alleviated her discomfort. As a sojourning foreigner, I lacked even the name of a pediatrician in Kenya, much less contact information. Even if I knew who to call, I couldn’t easily access transport. My one solace – I knew that soon my dear friend, Pastor Karau, would stop by for a visit.

I tucked the two-year-old girl I was in process to adopt into a large piece of cloth and swaddled her on my back, Kenyan-style. Normally Lily preferred to be on the go, out-and-about meeting people and discovering new sights. I set out down the dirt lane outside our compound, my two five-year-old sons trailing behind. I hoped the rocking of my movement and the distractions of the streets would ease her discomfort. As I walked beneath the red-grit-coated-trees, she continued to wail.

At last I saw the dust kicked up by the approach of Pastor Karau’s car. He pulled up alongside. The lone White woman in the area with a Kenyan baby tied to my back and accompanied by one White boy and one Kenyan boy of about the same size, I was easily recognizable. We climbed in. Speaking over Lily’s crying, I explained our predicament.

Soon we were back at our little “home,” a living room we shared with the staff of the compound as their break lounge, and a bedroom with mosquito-covered bunk-beds. Pastor Karau settled into a chair in the afternoon light and cradled Lily on his lap, uncharacteristically silent. Her whimpering faded. I sat across from him, certain he was praying for her. After a few moments, she climbed down and indicated that she wanted a cracker. I felt her forehead, now cool. She sat on the floor between us and began quietly playing.

There were no fireworks or theatrical announcements, just an amiable visit with a dearly-loved friend, enjoyed more fully with customary cups of chai; and then he departed as humbly and non-dramatically as ever.

And I stood there watching him drive away, awe seeping into my bones as surely as the dust swallowed him again. There I was, a single-parenting mother of three young children, alone and helpless, far from home, with few options and even less ability to access them. And in my hour of need, God ever so tenderly stole into our situation through the tender presence of a Kenyan pastor.

And the hem of a King’s cloak brushed low.


Luke 8:43-44

43 And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, 44 came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped.

Pastor Karau with Justin and Lily, 2005

Pastor Karau with Justin and Lily, 2005

9 thoughts on “Just to Touch the Hem

    • Thank you for reading! It’s the only time I’ve witnessed an outright miracle happen right before my eyes, so suddenly. But I’ve seen God’s provision and intervention in other more subtle ways many times. He is so faithful.


  1. I’ve been meaning to comment on this all week! This paining is very touching to me, Colleen! I had written in my journal the night before Eliza was healed that I would go anywhere just be able to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe on her behalf. He whispered to my heart, “You already have. Every time you come to me in prayer, that is exactly what you’re doing. I have heard and I have seen.” The next day, Christmas morning, her eyes became crystal clear right in front of me. I may need a copy of this print!!! : )


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