|at his high school graduation last month|
there is no way to describe all that we have been through with allan, or to even attempt re-telling all of the special "allan stories".
but i will say this...
when allan started in the academy 6 years ago, he was a little punk. several times we found ourselves on the brink of kicking this little smart-butt kid out of the academy. he had some charisma and personality, but it did 95% damage, leaving a 5% glimmer of hope.
thankfully, God could care less about odds. in fact, he has always delighted in defying the odds! can you imagine what the odds were against david beating goliath? or the against sarah and abraham having a baby? consider the odds against joshua, moses, elijah, jonah, jacob, joseph, gideon, esther, noah, job, daniel, shadrach meshach & abednego, paul, and jesus... just to name a few!
well, add allan to that list :)
in a village where abuse, addiction, machismo, and hate-your-neighbor is pure commonplace, God rescued and radically transformed this young man.
allan accepted jesus, developed a love for the bible, and has never been the same.
he shares the bible with his parents, brothers, sister-in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews and practically anyone else that will listen!
at the end of his day in the academy, he hustles down to his house with his bible. whoever is there becomes his disciples for a couple hours. if its his little nieces and nephews, he tells them bible stories and encourages them. if its his older brothers, he talks to them boldly about how to be better dads and husbands.
his brothers must look at him like he's crazy. the baby of the family, and the only one without a wife and kids... giving them advice - and even scolding them - for the way they treat their families.
he recently asked his oldest brother, who was yelling at his son for hitting his sister, "why do you think he does that?" he went on to explain to his brother, 18 years his senior, "you can yell at your son all day, but he's only repeating what he sees you do your wife. you treat your wife like trash, so he treats all girls like trash. he wants to be like his daddy."
astonished, his older brother actually responded humbly (which is unheard of in this culture), and it opened the door for allan to share more. since then, their relationship has improved, and allan is beginning to see some changes in the way his brother treats his family.
usually around 9pm, he rushes into the house to tell me whatever happened. if its not a story about who he shared jesus with, its a question about scripture. a deep question... like "why do catholics pray to mary?" or "what should i say to the jehovah's witness people that visit buena vista?"
i love those questions.
recently, he came in past curfew and said he was sorry - that he had just spent 2 hours talking about jesus with a policeman who had left the church years ago because of its hypocrisy. he told the cop that his frustrations were justified, and that jesus himself shares some of the same frustrations. the cop was so shocked by that comment, that he kept asking allan more questions- for 2 hours!
allan started a soccer team for the girls of buena vista this year (Las Rinas), simply because he wanted to make them feel special.
he has a serious girlfriend, and talks to her deeply about purity, maintaining boundaries, and working together to be sure their relationship honors God.
he takes advantage of evenings, weekends, and any other free time to ask the rhinos how they are doing, if they are falling victim to sin in their personal life, and encourages them.
last week, we heard of a local family who lost everything they had in a house fire. thankfully no one was injured, but by the time we arrived they lost all of their belongings in the fire. knowing how crushing of a blow this is to a poor family who barely earns enough money to eat, allan had an idea.
he asked all the rhinos if they would be willing to door to door, raising money for the family. (a few days later, a local pastor told me he had never heard of anyone doing something like this before - not even a church!) that explains why the boys seemed embarrassed when allan made the suggestion!
|allan delivering the blessing to the family|
when we delivered the money, food, and clothes to the family, it wasn't only the young family that was overwhelmed with emotion. they cried humble tears as allan shared, but i too was fighting back my own...
by the way, allan is not some awkward, overly-spiritual weirdo. far from it! he is a natural leader with a charismatic personality. he's a self confident young man and a good public speaker. and he is a phenomenal soccer player. he is actually well respected and looked up to in the village because of his soccer skills.
i think his reputation as an athlete, and a fun guy, is partly what confuses people when he is so bold about his faith.
you see, in our village, the christian church is bound by deep legalism. once you become a christian you become a lifeless robot. you even have to give up soccer and anything else "of the world" when you join the church.
so the people are dumbfounded by allan. even after accepting jesus, he is still allan - funny and free.
yesterday, after a rough practice where several boys got into some trouble, he called a meeting. he read the boys a passage from proverbs about not letting your pride block you from receiving counsel and discipline. he told the boys how God has graciously given them wise counsel through the boy's academy, and not to be rebellious fools who reject it. he warned them that, like those who have quit the academy for similar reasons, they would regret it.
|sharing with the rhinos in the academy|
i was seeing a young man from buena vista, full of the holy spirit - but free from legalism and nonsense. a young bible teacher who understands grace, sharing with kids who live in a village where grace does not exist.
i was looking at a radically transformed young man who had not only fallen in love with jesus, but longed to tell others about him as well.
and i'm pretty sure i was getting a glimpse into the future of the buena vista soccer academy for boys.