Yesterday morning, I kissed my wife and baby goodbye while swallowing the last gulp of grainy and dark coffee. I love the blackness of the liquid swishing around, coating my taste buds with the aromatic flavor of bitter and sweet. I clipped my keys into my bag and grabbed a banana. On the way out the door, I swept up my laptop and camera. Slamming the door behind me, I peered out over the compound courtyard. My security staff was awaiting to brief me on the recent activity of violence in the region from the day before.
I was glad that I had coffee first. It helps calms my nerves.
“Dead 17 year old kid seven blocks down from the chinese café,” Oscar muttered, “you’ll be wearing this today.” He pulled the bullet proof jacket over my head and secured the straps.
I kissed the cross I have around my neck an extra time. Oscar opened the double latched doors and we were on our way out into the street.
I never thought that saying yes to Jesus Christ would be easy. I knew that it was a call to serve and to give back to the global community after all that people had given to me during my storm filled days of adolescence. However, I didn’t realize that saying yes to Christ meant that I would wear a bullet proof vest to work.
On the hill, I positioned myself in the office and prayed for wisdom and insight for the day. I prayed for His protection and guidance, as I would start my morning session of mentoring of teenagers.
Oscar came in. He’s 16 years old. He is a good kid who plays soccer. He’s one of the better kids to hit the court. Oscar has been coming for a couple of sessions of mentoring and I’ve gotten to know Him a bit better. He avoids as much eye contact as possible. He stares a lot at the floor and away from the face. He is scared of something.
We started sharing and I started listening. I asked him how his week went. He began to tell me his highlights and lowlights from the week gone. His highlight was passing some time with a cousin who lives in the States. His discouragement for the week is that his mom left on Thursday and didn’t come back until Sunday night.
“what happened?” I asked.
“She went off on a binge,” he swallowed his glass of juice. “I didn’t know what happened to her until she came home last night, and she started screaming, yelling, and beating me. She was coming off the binge.” he started crying. He buried his hands into his eyes.
What can I do for this kid? He’s 16 years old, abandoned by his mother, father dead, and brother dead. The majority of his family are addicts. He is not. I don’t want to see him go. I want to do something for him that would bring him away from this environment of unhealthy returns.
It is so hard for me to imagine what Oscar’s life is like on a daily basis. He said that his mother doesn’t love him. She has never encouraged him or believed in him. He just lives each day for hope for the day. He doesn’t go to school. He doesn’t work. He just waits. Because of their poverty, he is forced to live in a home where verbal and physical abuse occurs regularly. He goes hungry some days because his mother has spent all of her $ 200 for the month on a massive drug habit.
Today, she asks me if I can help her pay a loan back that she owes to the bank. She says that she’s not making a lot of money and needs some help. I am asking for help from God as I approach her to share with her the love of grace.
Another day on the hill full of sorrow. I am thankful that there is still one hope.