Jean da la Corixb “John the Baptist”
It was if I had been placed in the time when Jesus walked the earth when I met a 15-year-old orphan boy named Jean da la Corixb. Jean lives at the Noel Orphanage near Gisenyi, Rwanda with over 600 other children ranging from a week old infant to 18 years old boys and girls. Jean is a meek, humble boy with the gentle spirit of a lamb and the heart for the Lord like no other. Jean has an amazing gift; he is blind and has been blessed with an amazing talent in his voice. When he sings it as if the angels sing through him not just with an audible presence but also through his smile. I say his gift is blindness because for those of use who can see our first impression is through sight and we judge those we see based on the way they look. Jean’s gift allows him to see the heart of a person without the judgment of the outer presentation. Most of the time we cover up our sins with a smile and a handshake. With Jean you deal with the true spirit of Christ at its most basic level, the heart.
As I got to know Jean, I learned more about myself. The most revealing thing about myself that I learned is how selfish I am with the time I spend truly caring or thinking about the things of the Lord. Jean asked me, “Billy, Do you read the Bible?” I told him “Yes, I do”. He replied, “I read John everyday, that is my favorite book of the Bible.” Then, I came to find out that is his only book. It is in brail at the orphanage. He attends a school for the deaf and blind where he has access to the complete Bible but on a daily bases he reads from the one book. Throughout the time we spent together Jean would ask random questions at the most unique times. On one occasion Godi from the Imbabazi Orphanage came to Noel and brought his guitar to play some songs for Jean. As they began to sing and play the guitar a large group gathered around them to watch Jean sing. While they sang it was as if you opened up the gates of Heaven for Jean. It was inspiring to watch and as soon as it was over Jean yells out, “Billy! What makes you smile?” I immediately told him “You make me smile Jean.” And he just smiled as he came to hold my hand. As he stood next to me holding and patting my hand I thought to my self, what really makes me smile? In that moment Jean made me smile. Getting to know him made me smile.
When I go on mission trips I am intentional in making a connection with one or two children to maybe give a child who has never had a mother or father or may never be adopted to know that someone cares. With Jean I felt that the table had been turned. Jean poured out the love to everyone he came into contact with. It was as if he was ministering to us more than we were ministering to him. Jean’s circumstance didn’t get in the way. Being blind, living in an orphanage or being an orphan wasn’t stopping him from showing the love of Christ to everyone he came in contact with… including me.
So, what makes me smile? I do know the memory of Jean makes me smile. Knowing that I have loved ones and people who support me on these trips that take me to places that I have only dreamed of. Most of all the love of Jesus Christ makes me smile and to know that he walks with and lives in the heart of a Jean da la Corixb.
I will be praying for Rwanda, Ethiopia, all the children we met and most of all Jean.
Below is a recording of Jean singing a praise song in Kinyarwanda.