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WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?"



"What's wrong with you?" I asked Benjamin as I walked into his bedroom at the orphanage.

He said not a word as he lied across his bed. He was crying as loud as he could. I just stood there watching him. I did not know what else to say. There was not a night go by that Ben did not cry. He cried loud too and he did not care who heard him. Sometimes, he cried so loud I could hear him in my room, which was located at the far end of the hallway. But still, I had never heard him cry like this.

"What's wrong, Ben?" I asked again.

"The matron says my Mom’s got a cancer thing in her head and I can't never go back home," he said.

"God and Jesus can heal those kinds of things. They can fix everything if we pray real hard," I said.

"Do you think He can fix my mom?" he asked.

"That's what it says in the Bible and that's what they say at Sunday school," I noted.

Slowly, Ben slid off the bed and onto his knees. Then he folded his hands under his chin and began to pray. I just stood listening to him. He would pray and then he would cry. Then he would pray some more. Slowly, I backed out of the room, a little bit at a time and stopped in the hallway.

"What's wrong with him?" asked one of the boys who had come upstairs to use the bathroom.

"His mama's got a lump in her head and I think she's gonna die," I said.

"What's he doing on his knees?" asked the boy.

"He's praying to God and Jesus to save her."

"It ain't gonna do no good," he said.

"You don't know that for sure."

"You'll see," said the boy as he walked away from me.

"Why would you talk like that?" I asked as he turned the corner and walked into the bathroom.

"CAUSE!" he yelled.

"Cause why?" I questioned.

"Cause the matron told me there is no God, that it is all made up. She said that she is the only God around here."

"There ain't really no God?" asked Ben as he walked out of his room into the hallway.

”You don't listen to him, Ben,” I said. “You know what the church lady said. That's what the real truth is.”

Every evening for weeks, I heard Ben pray that his mother would be healed so he could go back home, but that day never came. Ben cried less and less every day. Soon the crying stopped completely. I guess the day came when he became like the rest of us kids. We were where we were and nothing could be done about it.

For the next six years, Ben never again spoke or raised his hand while attending Sunday school. I guess hearing the words: "There is no God," along with never again hearing from his mother finally did him in. Ben never married or had any children. He was killed in Vietnam on the very first day he arrived there.



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