The young child sat despairingly in the mud. The filth covered her little body and the screams came out of her mouth as tears made streaks down her dirt-caked face. Koko was only three years old, but those three years had been nothing but abandonment and loneliness.
No better off than an orphan, her mother was never around. And if she was, she was too high on meth to be a mother to Koko. Her grandmother was her only real parent; although more than once you could find her grandmother passed out in bed from alcohol consumption.
The only steady people that she had in her life were her five year old sister Dyani, and her eight year old sister Anna who were much too young to take care of her.
Koko’s life has been the epitome of struggle. Being a Lakota Sioux Indian, she lives on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The reservation is the poorest county in America and has some of the nation’s highest levels for teen suicide and alcohol abuse.
With no real parents and an unlivable trailer to call home, Koko’s life and future seemed hopeless, until this past summer when she met Jake.
Jake Jones has a passion for missions and has been going to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for the past fifteen years. Every year he brings his family and friends to help out with service projects on the reservation. He has built relationships with many people in the past decade, including a relationship with Koko, her grandmother and her sisters.
This past summer, Jake and his team were constructing a playground and pavilion for the children on the reservation. Every day, Koko’s grandmother dropped her and her sisters off to play. Each day the girls came, Koko became more attached to Jake.
On one particular day, the sisters were told they would not see Jake, but he figured out a way to pick them up. As he pulled up to her trailer, he heard his name being screamed in panic, fear, and sadness. Koko was stuck in the mud, screaming, and hoping he would come for her. As he scooped her out, he portrayed a picture of God.
Jake is a father figure to Koko and many other kids. On any given Friday night he has up to 50 college kids at his house eating dinner and worshipping and praying together. He is called Papi Jake by dozens of Haitian children in an orphanage he has been visiting for 20 years where many look up to him as the only father they have ever known. Jake is a father to the fatherless, just like the Psalmist talks about in chapter 68 when referring to our heavenly Father.
Jake Jones is also my Father.
As I have watched him be a father to so many, the moment I watched him rescue Koko from the mud and filth, I pictured myself in my heavenly Father’s arms.
I ask myself, “How many times am I rescued from my own filth and sin?” At many times I am completely helpless and lonely, unable to do anything, but cry out in anguish and fear for the only one who can rescue me.
In many ways, I am Koko everyday. We all are. We can’t get up out of the mud unless someone rescues us. We are completely helpless without our heavenly father, just like Koko was completely helpless without my father.
My dad, Jake Jones, is a representative of who God is. He is a father to a fatherless generation, pouring out wisdom, faith, food and shelter to those who need it. He opens up his home to others to rest their bodies and souls. He is a reflection of the greatest Father we could ever hope and wish for.
Through my relationship with my own father, I have grown to understand the relationship that we have with our heavenly Father. I know my dad has shown not just me, but so many others what true love and dedication looks like. Jake Jones loves Koko like God loves Koko.
My father loves me like God loves me. Unconditionally. Faithfully. Relentlessly.
How have you experienced the love of God through an earthly father or your heavenly Father?