You may wonder HOW we find the children who need to come into Mercy House. Yes, we live in a place where we see children begging and working on the streets all of the time. But not ALL of them are actually "street children". Many of them go home at night, empty out their pockets to help an impoverished family and sleep under a roof of sorts. With parents. And food. Some even go to school.
Those who don't, those who sleep outside of businesses and restaurants, in piles like puppies with other street children, those who can not go home because there is no home- or no parents - or abuse and starvation and drug addiction - THOSE are the children we seek to serve inside Mercy House.
And just over a week ago. That is who we admitted. His name is Mark.
He had the same story most of the kids in the government shelter have. He is the child of drug addicts and at home, there is no food, no supervision and lots of heartache. So he took his chances on the street. On any given weekday, the government task force comes out to round up street kids and deposit them in this center. The kids often run away and are "re rounded up" multiple times. Mark is also a serial runaway.
We met him on the streets several times. Most recently, a month ago. And he looked nothing like the sweet-faced, fair-skinned little child we remembered from the government shelter.
After we heard his story, fed him a meal and prayed with him, we left him and went back to Mercy House. He had already sent us a facebook message asking us to "adopt" him. We asked him to meet us the next day for counseling at the same McDonald's and he did. We continued to talk to him, pray with him and let him know the rules and expectations inside our center. We asked him to meet us again on another day for admission. We knew better than to admit him on the spot the first day. He needed to weigh his options. Think it over. Decide for himself.
He was there. On time. And he was higher than we had ever seen him. It was unfair for us to ask him to stop sniffing solvent while he was still on the street.
Solvent takes away your hunger pains. And your fear of the bigger kids on the street. And your thoughts about your parents and siblings. It makes you feel like "Goku" (an anime character who has super powers) in Mark's own words.
So we brought a very high, red-eyed, dirty boy home with us to go through withdrawal and get himself together.
The next day, we set out treating the many wounds on his body.
We decided to spend a week getting to know Mark, helping him to put on some weight (at 12 years old, he weighed 48 lbs upon admission) and finding out about his life both on and off the streets.
At the end of the first week, we asked him to lead us to his family home. His older brother was there holding his youngest brother, who was covered with a "mystery rash" of pus-filled sores.
A few days later, we visited them again, brought food and saw a HUGE improvement in the condition of all the family members. Mark was relieved and happy to see his siblings healing up.
Mark has been to church with us once since admission, been a part of devotion eight times and asked me on four separate occasions what it means to be a Christian. On January 22nd, Daddy Anthony shared a clear and concise plan of salvation from the Bible with Mark. He was ready to surrender his life to Jesus, experience forgiveness of his sins and start again!
Mark will be discipled at Mercy House.
He just started formal school today.
He eats three meals (with seconds every time) and takes daily vitamins.
He showers, brushes his teeth and has clean clothes each day.
He is a great dancer who leads the other kids in learning new dances.
He has a smile that can melt your heart and a tiny voice that is so sweet.
He gave me my first hug, unrequested, three days ago and I wanted to cry for joy.
Any life can be redeemed. There is no child "too street wise" or "too drug addicted" that the long arm of the Lord can not reach him.
Won't you join us in committing to pray for Mark and his whole family. There are five born children and one pre-born. There are two meth-addicted parents and a level of poverty that still sends shock waves into my heart, even though I've seen it before.
Please pray that Mark's new-found faith is genuine and that he can grasp the deep love of Jesus for him. He hasn't felt much love in his own life.
We don't know the plans the Lord has for Mark and his family but we know that He led them to us. And us to them. To serve the best we can through the power at work within us - not our own.
As always, this is ALL HIM and little of us. Just as it should be.