Friday as I (Ben) talked with a new boy at Ciad he showed me a picture of his girlfriend. She was 7 or 8 months pregnant in the photo and he told me she gave birth one month ago. He had told me he had about 3 or 4 months inside already and hoped to get out within one or two years. As I looked at the photo I was beginning to loose it, I couldn’t handle the thought of the repeating cycle that brought Kleber there and will likely bring his children there. I asked him if she lived close, he quickly responded she lives with me, correcting himself with she did. He went on to say she went to stay with her mom for the help but when he gets out she will come live with me again. He is almost 17. My heart was breaking looking at a boy that hoped to have a family with a girl he left to have their baby while he is in prison. In my mind I knew the reality is she is likely already with someone else. It’s the lifestyle. What do I say?
Saturday we had a lot of people come to lunch once again. Many of the same kids, coming to eat, play some ping pong and go back home. Homeless people that come. Guys in their 20s leaving society behind to smoke crack. They don’t even realize they are homeless yet. Their minds are still lucid enough to have a conversation with you but you can see it fading right before your eyes. Some of the street women we interact with are pregnant and I have been unfortunate enough to pass and catch them smoking crack.
Sunday as Melissa and I were at the church preparing for the kids to come we sat down to pray. Both feeling overwhelmed and underprepared. We sat asking God to do something, to help us focus, to give us direction, wondering if any kids would come in the cold weather. We ended up with about 20 kids coming on their own without us going and getting anyone. Lori had to rearrange her teaching a bit and put the flannel graph away as mostly teenagers came. Melissa taught the older ones to make pancakes. I played ping pong with the boys. Lori summed up our Memory vs. Matt. 6:33 with an almost word for word edition of what I was about to say. Melissa had just given her testimony and it seemed to crack through a few hard shells.
Today, I realize all the little things we are doing don’t matter. We are completely inadequate and need to embrace that. It isn’t bad. We need to remember that 0 times infinity is 0 but 0 times God is infinity. Our efforts in their best form will fail to change the hearts of even one lost soul. However when you multiply our worthless effort times and infinite creator you have limitless possibilities.
After a weekend of reflection and revelation what has changed? Very little outside of perspective but that can be a big change. This church is a few weeks away from being turned over to Brazilian leadership. Tim is leaving. We have been here a year learning language and culture and helping with a few things. As this unfolds I realize I need to begin to watch more closely what God is doing in our own lives. We are seeing doors open and observing needs in a certain neighborhood. Perhaps we need to begin to focus our energies and efforts there. The time may be here to spend our time and energy zeroing in on the thing God has put in front of us and start saying no to things that distract us from that. I have been a learner of language, culture, style, ministry of Tim but perhaps now it is time to focus on learning more of who we are in ministry. That is a big change. It doesn’t mean we are leaving the church to start our own now. It doesn’t necessarily mean any change in schedule now but it certainly means to focus our observations more inward and on what God is doing with us.
At the end of this first year, just one week away, pray for us. We are so thankful and have been so blessed. We have been provided for month to month. We are learning the language. The kids are well. The first half of our residency is taken care of. We have a wonderful asset in our Kombi, VW bus. We still need to see the last part of our residency settled. We need around $1,500 us to finish that. We need to see in increase in our monthly support as costs have increased here and the dollar fell. Also we may need more for ministry and not just living. God knows all this and we aren’t worried. We also would like to visit Oregon and maybe Kansas later this year. It is all in the Lord’s hands.
Bless you all