Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Harvest

"Then Jesus said to His disciples 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few', therefore pray earnestly that the Lord of the Harvest will send out laborers into the harvest".
Matthew 9:37-38

It was only two days ago that my social worker and I walked upon this scene. Eight or nine boys between the ages of nine and fourteen, asleep on an overpass with traffic whizzing by below them. 
It was 10am. The boys were sleeping so soundly, thanks to a night of using solvent, that they didn't hear our voices around them. Or the traffic. Or anything.  
We began to shake them gently and say "gising na, kuya" (loosely: "wake up, guys") to each of them.
Some awoke with startled eyes as they saw me, a foreigner, standing there. Others fixed their gazes on the city social worker, whom they had met many times in the past and were leery of.  Several looked at my own social worker as she assured them that nobody was here to hurt them or take them anywhere they don't want to go. 
All of the boys sat up eventually, and huddled close together.
One younger child tried to get up and run and a male worker from the city who was accompanying us grabbed him as the child flailed around in terror. 
I asked the man to please let the child go.  I was afraid he would jump from the bridge into traffic. 
He released his hold and the child ran as fast as he could AWAY from the place he had been soundly sleeping just moments before. 
And my eyes were drawn, as they always are. To the feet of the children sitting before me.

A true street child can always be identified by his feet. There is a level of "dirty" that a child who has a place to go home to every night just can not achieve. I knew these boys were not ones who went home often, if ever.  I knew they were the ones we were sent to serve.  

These young men listened intently as my social worker explained to them that we were invited to come to meet them by the city social welfare office. We told them that the staff there was worried about them growing up on the street and wanted to help them find a new way of life and a safe place to be.  The boys were clearly skeptical at first. We told them we have a shelter where they could eat three times a day, go to school and church, have clean clothes and stop taking care of themselves and worrying about being hurt. One of the young boys said "I'll go" before we even finished our introduction.  His name is Rico and he was overtly ready to get off the street. 
Just a week before this visit, we admitted a friend of these boys. His name is Dreamboy (yes, given name) and he was exactly where they were, just one week prior to this encounter.
This is Dreamboy on admission day.  This is how the boys on the overpass know him. He came with us to visit his friends. 
The boys were clearly impressed with the outward changes in their friend. His cleanliness, his "real" shoes - the obvious improvements that came from just getting off the street.
Dreamboy was treated to a wonderful brunch by the city social workers on our return visit. They, too, were so relieved and impressed with the "new him". 
But what is harder to convey, are the changes that are happening inside a child when he goes from street to shelter. His confidence, the way he reverts back to being a young child again, the way he seeks affection from adults almost instantaneously.  And for these boys on the overpass to understand any of that, they would need to trust us enough to come and see for themselves.

And FIVE of them did!

Five boys from the overpass piled into our Mercy House truck and came with us for lunch and counseling.  Some were clearly hesitant while others were plainly giddy.  
As we finished our counseling and prepared to organize the paperwork with the city, the city social worker came to our van with some bad news.  One of the boys would not be able to come to Mercy House.  He was an older boy, 14 years old, and he was from a neighboring city. The social worker who was helping us had not been able to notify the city of origin that the child would be moved. Without their acknowledgment,  we could not move the child.  We had to wait.  
The disappointment on the child's face was crushing as she told him he had to get out of our truck and stay in the street a little longer while permission was obtained. We were devastated. But not as much as he was. 
In solidarity, two of the other older boys decided to stay with him and "look out for him". So they, too, left our truck, with solemn faces,  and we were left with two boys. 
We tried everything we could think of to bypass the city of origin, to plead with their secretary to help us and to get the helpful city social worker to be the one to authorize the admission. But in the end, because child trafficking is so rampant here, we had to wait. 
And so the two boys in the picture above, Rico and Kaking, were the two who came with us and became the newest members of our Mercy House family, just two days ago. 
These two twelve-year-old children have lived on the street for years. They have engaged in crime and substance abuse, like most of the children we serve.  But upon admission to Mercy House, all they wanted to do was color in coloring books and play with Legos!
Seeing redemptive work right before your eyes NEVER loses it's appeal. It is hard and draining work. The children are extremely hyperactive. They have terrible manners. They don't know how to "be" inside of a home with functioning family member.
But they are HERE. They are not sleeping one more night in a dirty overpass that smells like a  gas station bathroom.  They aren't begging for one more bite of food from anyone.  

They are here. 

And just yesterday, friends from Children's Garden, a shelter for older street boys, returned to the overpass and admitted three more of the friends we met there. In just two days, FIVE children were rescued from the street and given the chance of a lifetime - a LIFE beyond the struggles of the street.

Please pray for us as we serve these children and make plans to return to their city to meet others.
Please pray for God to send us TWO new caregivers who understand what a street child needs.
Please pray for Him to send us more "laborers".

Because this HARVEST is way too plentiful.  How we wish it wasn't. 
And the workers are SO SO FEW. 

Thank you for reading and praying and caring and giving.

Your part in this rescue, if you are doing any or all of those things, is massive. 

So, thank you!