Monday, October 24, 2011

this is why we are here


this is why we are here. all of the long days, emotional roller coasters, crying, working, laughing, worrying, praying, grinding... its all for moments like this.

a couple of our older Rhino's (in the boys academy) chose to give their lives over to Jesus.

this puts in perspective the last 4 months of daily interaction, friendship, struggle, practices, classes, and experiences. sometimes in the daily grind of it all, the bigger purpose of what we're doing can slip my mind. but friday night, around a fire pit on the roof of the bvsa house, it all made sense.

me, mynor, and anthony were sharing about our own walks with Jesus, his love, grace, and the freedom and joy we have in Him. as we talked, Gato (pictured far right) - by far the hardest, toughest, most distant, street kid on the team - broke down. actually "broke down" doesn't begin to do it justice. this was a new experience for me. Gato's heart was literally overcome with pain. he couldn't breathe. as he gasped for air, he leaned over and told me he couldn't take the pain as he tapped his chest over his heart.

his symptoms were as if he was having a heart attack. he needed help. he began to cry. as we prayed over him, he finally gave up. he let go of the life and the image that he was holding on so tightly to. he chose to be free. to give it all to Jesus, and start over.

it was intense and beautiful to experience. anthony, mynor and I knew exactly what was happening - God was literally fighting for this young man's heart, so strongly that he had his head between his knees in pain, gasping for air. but he had to be the one to let go, he had to choose to say yes to the grace of Christ, or to hold on to his sin. he said yes, and he was freed.

another Rhino, Josue (2nd from left), shared with us that he had fallen to the temptation of the world. satan, he said, had many things to offer him, and they were all too strong for him to say no. in tears, he said he wanted to leave it all for Jesus Christ. he confessed that his life of sin only brings temporary happiness, and he longs for true, lasting joy.

i am so amazed that i get to be a part of this. are you kidding me God? i get to be there in the trenches for these battles? what an honor!! thank you! thank you! thank you!

this is what it is all about. this is how the future of this village (and any village for that matter) can be changed and transformed. God, help us disciple these boys well. use these young men to break the generational chains of sin and abuse in this place! we praise you for what you are doing!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

hearts softening


i know i write a lot about the rhinos, our 30 boys who we pray will one day change the entire village of buena vista (www.bvboys.com). they are an amazing bunch of kids, and we dont take lightly each day and each opportunity we have with them.

i think we just experienced a breakthrough.

a team from savannah christian church was here serving, and they did a week long "camp" with the boys. every day was full of activities... interactive games, arts and crafts, drama skits, music, dancing, and much more. we even closed each day with worship songs and prayer.

for us as the staff at bvsa, one thing that we all agreed on was that this week came in God's perfect timing.

we have been spending the last several months getting to know the boys. through schooling, practices, movie nights, and opening our home, we have been seeking to get to know each of them deeper. now we know that God had planned this week in his perfect timing to soften their hearts towards hearing his voice.

i could not believe how they cried tonight. so sad to see their new friends leave, they stood up one by one (voluntarily) and shared how much the week meant to them. some of the comments included "i will miss you so much", "i love you more than my own family", "you have filled us with joy and happiness", and "i will pray for you every day."

God used this wonderful, selfless, and loving team of 12 individuals to soften the hearts of our rhinos. i watched one of the hardest/toughest of our boys break down in tears tonight as he hugged them goodbye.

how exciting for us going forward, to work with these softened hearts and be able to share more with them about the one true hope found in Jesus Christ!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

another unexpected death


have had a broken heart lately. a local man in his 30's named Angel died last week, leaving behind a wife and 3 kids (15, 11, and 9). Angel worked for us on the boy's academy jobsite for the last 5 months that we were under construction. as usual, the family is unsure why he died. from various people, i have heard "bronchitis", "neumonĂ­a", "heart problem", and "lung problems." whatever it was, as is the case with so many others who have died here, i can assume that it was something that could have been prevented. which means that it was none of those causes that killed him... rather it was poverty that caused his death. no health insurance, no doctor or hospital visits, no money for medicine, and nobody to help. i just wish we would have known.

when we went down to visit them, Geronima (Angel's wife) was sitting in their house next to the memorial shrine that they had set up in their home. her 15 year old son Edgar sat on the other side of the shrine, crying. we brought food and toys, but what do you say? so we just sat there and shared with them in their sadness. i ended up sharing about Jesus with them. i dont even remember it all, but i hope what they remember is that He is always good, even when we dont understand.

i am reminded - yet again - about the definition of true religion as stated by the apostle James, the brother of Jesus. true religion is caring for the widows and orphans in their distress. as we sat in Geronima's home that day, she asked me in tears, "what are we supposed to do now? our family does not work without Angel. he takes care of us. he does everything for us." if these words dont define a widow's distress, i dont know what does.

I told Geronima and Edgar that our door is always open to them, and to please come to us with any needs they have. i worry that they won't, as they seemed extremely reserved and shy. but we will check in with them regularly, and i will keep praying that God provides for all of their needs.

if you would like to help them out, make a donation by clicking here, and note "for Geronima's family". we will carefully use all donations for them in the most appropriate manner that we can, beginning with food, bills, and daily needs.