This little boy was like none other that I had encountered in Villa Hermosa. It is hard to find glimpses of Jesus when you are surrounded by children who live such awful lives, but when I met this child, it was like a light had been given to me while walking down this long and dark tunnel. His eyes were so big and his smile made everything seem so much better. You literally could not think of anything negative while watching this young man. His hugs were addictive and I would repeat all those moments he fell asleep in my arms if I could. When I saw him.. I saw a true disciple. Although young... his heart was growing rapidly.
So here I am.... July 27th. heading to his house to ride to church with him and his family. His father, the pastor of the church, had invited me to start attending regularly. Now let me remind you, this family has the same struggles the other people do living here. Some days they eat, others they don´t. Some days Alex has clean clothes, other times he has to wear the same shirt, pants, and underwear several days in a row. The parents have little to nothing, yet run a church built by a mission team and tend to their six children.
As I stepped into the home, I was greeted with hugs from all but 1..... Alex. About 6 seconds later, he came limping in with a bright red face and red spots all over him. He was sick with the virus, Chikungunya, which is spread by mosquitoes and leaves terrible joint problems along with a high fever and hot bumps. Looking into his bloodshot, teary eyes, I knew it was bad. But this very sick boy looked down to see that my feet were filthy from walking. In fear of tracking in dirt to the church service, I asked if I could clean them at the house. Immediately, Alex led me outside and brought out a bucket containing water and his clothes he was waiting to wash. I told him I could do it myself, but before I could finish he took my sandals off and put them in the bucket with his clothes, making the water and his clothes dirty. Scrubbing them clean, he handed them back and then started on my feet. This very sick child.... this child who wanted clean clothes and to simply lie down.. put the feet of a healthy man who had more than enough clean clothes in his only few pairs of clothing and sacrificed his own needs for my want... And the story doesn´t end there.
The father of Alex walked in and said that He would like to buy me some shoes for church. I told him I could buy some with my money, but He refused over and over again. So I was escorted to their car, which was falling apart, and used the little gas they had to take me to the store. While there, He used what I believe was the majority of his money to purchase shoes that I wouldn´t have a problem with buying back at home. They were beautiful and comfortable....and well bought by a man who gave up fathers day because he knew they didn't have any money to celebrate it. Bought by a man who couldn´t give his children any birthday parties because of the lack of payment he receives at his job. Bought by a man who looked at a missionary, knowing he had more than enough money, and went ahead and served him anyways.
Everyone who goes on mission trips has this intentionality to give to those who are poor, but for the first time in my entire life... I had the needy give back to me. And I saw Jesus... this powerful... merciful...humbling Jesus. And the blessings still did not stop....
Today is Father´s Day in the Dominican republic and at church, the congregation honored all those who had held a father figure position one way or another. They called up each man at a time thanking him for doing what must fathers here run away from. Then out of nowhere my name was read aloud on the microphone. The words that followed brought me to tears. ¨this is given to a man who has become like a father to dozens and dozens of children who need one in Villa Hermosa¨.
I am nothing but a vessel... a simple follower who does what his Father tells him... but when I heard those words.... I felt as if God was standing right there speaking them into my heart. And I am relieved. Your hardest critic is yourself, and man have I been criticizing myself. My entire time here has been moments of wondering if anything I am doing is actually making a dent... and nights like tonight make it clear to me that God wants me to keep pressing in with this village. I hope he is doing the same with you and where you are at. I am going to leave you with a challenge.
If a family of 8 who have little to nothing can live out a life of missions and servant hood.... there is no doubt that you can to. Get up and serve my brothers and sisters. The needy are calling your name. I love you all... Goodnight.
|Alex after crying in my arms due to having to wear the same clothes for days, reading in scripture about how God providing for His children|