My group was the first of four to arrive and since the community center where we were meeting was occupied with an adult class (similar to technical college) , we decided to wait in the park across the street. My translators Andrés and Oscar were almost immediately surrounded by the kids playing nearby (who were waiting for their parents to get out of the class) and they wanted to know who the “gringo” was and what was he doing here? Andrés knew I could communicate well enough in spanish (especially to the kids) so he told them to ask me themselves. I told them (in my best spanish) we were working with the church in their neighborhood and that we were going around to the homes to tell the people about Jesus.
At first the kids were so entertained by my accent and minimal spanish skill that most of the questions were “Como se dice _______ en Ingles?” or “how do you say (fill in the blank) in english?” for almost every word they could think of! I did the best I could in translating for myself and both the kids and I had a good time laughing at our attempts to communicate cross-culturally.
By this time, the other three groups had returned to the meeting spot and some of the parents were coming out from the class. One of the kids came up to me and the group of others that were still asking me questions to show that he had gotten one of the e-cards, that we were giving away. Immediately all of the children around me started begging me to give them one as well. So I asked them do you know what the pictures on the card mean? – I hadn’t explained it to them yet so of course they all said no. I used my evangecube to explain to them who Jesus is and what He came to do on this earth.
I explained to these children that Jesus was the only way that we can be saved from our punishment and that in order to be forgiven and start a new life with God, we have to accept this gift that he is offering to us. A few of the kids lost interest and wandered off or their parents came and took them home. But five of those children stayed to hear the whole story and they said they believe that Jesus came, died, & rose again so we could be free from sin and live a new life with him! Fabio – another translator – was close by so I asked him to lead the children in a prayer. I sat back and thanked God for this – such a blessing to allow me to be a part of sharing Jesus with these children. (by the way – I did give the e-cards to those kids!)
As I was reflecting on how awesome that week had been and praising God for blessing me in such a special way – I felt a tug on my jacket sleeve and there was a young boy who told me (through Fabio) his name is David, and that he and his mother were walking home, through that park, and heard me talking to the other kids about Jesus. David asked his mother if they could stop and hear what I had to tell them. He says to me that now he would like to tell me his testimony.
David told me that he is 11 years old now and 3 years ago he and his mother became Christians. He told me that going to church and singing the songs about Jesus was his favorite thing to do. He proceeds to tell me that the more he and his mother went to church, the more his father disliked it and eventually told him he was not allowed to go to church anymore. David, who – remember, is only 11 years old – tells me that “God comes first in my life – and I know I am supposed to obey my father but I snuck out of my house and went to church anyway.”
I began to cry as David told me that when he came back home, his father began to beat him for what he had done. So badly in fact that his mother (who interrupted to give these details) tried to intervene to stop the father from attacking David. She told me that the father then attacked her – took her baby from her and through her against the wall in an attempt to kill her – He took a knife from his belt and stabbed David in the chest – when David’s mother tried to stop him from doing it again – He took the knife across her throat. As she was doing her best to fight him off, David picks up the injured baby and runs out of the house. By God’s grace and protection his mother was able to escape as well. Injured and bleeding but not dead. They ran from the house with the father chasing after them screaming ” I am going to find you and I am going to kill you” – His mother told me that they are now hiding at her sister’s house in the city (they fled from the mountains on the other end of the city) and that her husband does not know where they are.
Even after such a nightmare – David tells me (with a wisdom and peace that ONLY God can give) that he understands why all of those bad things happened to him and his family – So that now with his father gone – God can be first in his life again. He tells me that now he and his mother can read the Bible at home and sings the songs about Jesus as much as they want.
I am completely blown away by this young man! After hearing his and his mother’s story, I immediately think of my “I am Second” bracelet that came in our resource package from e3. I tell David that he is the reason they make these kinds of things for people to wear – people like you who truly love God first! and I want you to have it as a gift from me. He lights up at the offer of my meager gift and unfolds his arms to receive it. This is when I see what is written on his t-shirt for the first time while talking to him.
Spartanburg, SC is my hometown! I am the only one of all the Americans from our group that is from Spartanburg! And further more, unless you are from Spartanburg you’ve probably never heard of the town – I can’t think anywhere around here where you can get a shirt like that! To be honest I can’t think of any reason why there was ever such a shirt made to begin with! There is no doubt in my mind that God brought me to Bogota that day to meet David. And just in case I missed that point – there it was written in English on that boy’s shirt for me to see!
David came to the service that night and I found out that he had gone home and gotten another shirt so he could give me the “Spartanburg” shirt. At first I told him “I can’t take your shirt!” As if I wasn’t already overwhelmed by this young man – he tells me that he wants me to have it so that I won’t forget him when I go back to the United States. I was so completely floored by this whole encounter. I told him honestly “I will never forget you David!”
David and his mother were able to come to the victory service on Friday night at the Central Baptist Church Downtown. We had a bus pick them and some others up for free from their neighborhood. By now I had told everyone about him and his testimony so we were all excited to see them when they arrived. David & I sat together on the front row that night so we could have the best view of the worship band (he told me the day before in the park, that he wants to someday be a musician and write his own songs about Jesus!)
He gave me this drawing that he had made at the end of the service. Before he and his mother took the bus back home, she told me that he stayed up for many hours the night before working on this. When he had finished – he wrote my name and email on the headboard of his bed so that he would not lose it! I was (and still am) humbled by this whole experience. How does God use someone like me to make such a huge impact on a boy like him??? For me it was the other way around – he has been such an example of faith to me! As I think back on this, I don’t even feel worthy to be a part of it but I praise God – that I can say because of Jesus in my life – not my own doing – that someone like David would be so encouraged to keep God First! Gloria a Dios!