|Taken the first time we ever saw him|
But he introduced me to the child in the photo above.
I could tell he was on some sort of drug by his behavior - lots of laughing and smiling. He could not focus on what I was saying. He stepped outside my direct line of sight and peed on a wooden post about two feet from me. And I was a little scared of him. He was 15 years old - older than any other children we had at the time - and he was clearly saturated by street life in a "leveled up" way from that of our other clients. So I asked him to add me on facebook (as most street children here have a facebook account that they check often from the internet cafes when they can find the money), assuming he would lose the scrap of paper I had written my name on for him, and I left him there in the city, a little relieved that I didn't have that "heart tug" that so often knocks me over when I meet a child we are supposed to invite into our Mercy House family.
But by the time I got back to the center, a friend request from Adonis was in my computer. And a long message written by a different street child informing me that Adonis could not read or write but he would really like to come and live with us, go to school and "fix his life". The friend shared with me that Adonis has bad asthma and was sick a lot and that he would be "a good boy" for me. I laughed. Because I had heard that before and the kids promising they were "good boys" were almost always the worst behavior problems. I was getting jaded. Or experienced. Or both.
So, I lay down that night in my bed to pray for the kids we had served that day and to ask the Lord what to do now for specific children. And the words "go get Adonis" kept coming to mind. I think I said "NO WAY" out loud. And I tried to reason it was not the prompting of the Lord but my own "savior complex" putting that thought in my head. I tried to focus on the foolishness of accepting a child that old with that many issues into our center. But that nagging. It would not go away. And I knew.
The following day, I asked our social worker to call the city social worker from Adonis' town and ask about him. She BEGGED us to come and pick him up. She shared the problems he caused in the street, the stealing and vandalism. The bullying of younger children, the constant use of drugs in public - and so much more. So, with more fear than faith, we went to his city to ask him if he was serious about changing his life.
He came into our center and slept for about three days, ate an inordinate amount of food and began to be more "himself" as the substances he relied on to keep him feeling strong and happy wore off.
And for about 5 months, he did well with us.
Until he didn't.
|A few months after leaving Mercy House|
Sadly, we were right. He was in the street again.
Within a week, Adonis was messaging us asking if he could come back into our home. But upon his leaving, our Mercy House boys began to share with us some pretty extreme things Adonis was doing while living with us- things they were afraid to disclose until he was gone. So we went and met him face to face to let him know we could not take him back and why, but we would help him find a place if he was open to another home.
We found him in the street easily as everyone in that city knows him. He was having an asthma attack and had no medicine so, we immediately bought two inhalers, one for him to keep in his pocket and one for the city social worker to keep in her desk and give to him when the first ran out. She agreed to do that for us.
We fed him lunch and then he fell asleep on a city park bench, head on my lap, and all I could do was put my hand on his and pray silently - for his protection, for a center that could handle all the behaviors and keep their other kids safe, for the God who made Adonis for a bigger purpose to begin to reveal to that young man that he was created for so much more than the life he was currently living. And then, with heavy hearts, we left him there to search for a place that could handle this difficult boy with the beautiful heart. We had seen so much in him that was worth saving. So many sweet moments and protective instincts toward our staff.
Enter: Kid's Home International. Pastor Raffy Sison and his staff were introduced to us by an Action International missionary, my friend Erin. Pastor Raffy runs a tight ship. He serves older boys 15-18 and some have committed serious offenses. He opened his home to Adonis and we were beyond grateful! Adonis thrived there. He learned to read. He learned to handle the word of God and serve in outreaches. He learned to hand wash his own clothing and take responsibility for himself and, best of all to us, he was only about 15 miles from Mercy House so we were allowed to visit him there.
For 11 months, Adonis did well in the program at Kid's Home but eventually approached Pastor Raffy and asked if he could be excused from the program. He had asked that in the past but always changed his mind after some counseling. This time, it was different. Pastor Raffy texted Mercy House and shared with us that Adonis wants to return to us and he was 100% certain this time that he wanted to leave Kid's Home.
I would be lying to say I wasn't at least a little thrilled at the prospect of getting him back.
We missed him. Visiting him at KH and seeing his growth and maturity were highlights of our days. Knowing he was in the perfect place for him - the safest and most Christ-focused place he could have asked for - was the answer to so many prayers for that young man. But hearing he wanted to come back to us and was now more READY was also an answer.
So we went and got him. And brought him home. He is now 17 years old and no longer the skinny, hyper active, drug dependent kid we met two years ago on the streets of his city. He's a young man who is showing himself to be a good big brother to the kids here at Mercy House. He leads devotions. He helps the staff with any heavy lifting or labor-intensive jobs without being asked. And, my goodness, that sense of humor and smile just light up this place.
How did we make it for so long without him?
And I share this for a few reasons. First, just to flat out spread the joy we have at being given a second chance with this boy. Second, to thank Kid's Home and Pastor Raffy and his staff a MILLION TIMES OVER for taking a chance on Adonis and for also being willing to give him back after they all did so much of the hard work it took to get him to be the young man we see before us: changed by the power of God and looking more like His Son than we imagined he could.
And third, I share this because all of you who pray for and support Mercy House have a hand in the redemption of this boy . And, people, if this was the ONLY child we served in our whole ministry. It would still be worth the leaving and the selling and the coming across the ocean. The resources we have invested to visit him, buy medicine and now to care for him every day come from those of you with a heart for street kids and the gospel. And we can not express well enough how valuable you are.
We eagerly await the rest of this story. We are not naive enough to think it will be smoothing sailing for the next couple of years and then Adonis lands that corporate job and rides off into the sunset to live "happily ever after". Kids with rough beginnings tend to have a lot of extra work to do just to rise to the level of average kids in intact families. But we put all of our trust in our Great Great God, to show us how to meet this young man's needs day by day. Step by step. Walkng by faith and expecting the Lord to keep every promise He has ever made. Because He will.
So, for now, we are just raising a son who is right where he is supposed to be at this time in his life.
And we are grateful to everyone who has poured into him and cheered him on along the way.
|Playing Ball at Mercy House|
|Hanging out with two of his Mercy House brothers|
More than we ask or imagine! That is our God!