24 Oct Day 16
Charles: Never Too Late
Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.—Luke 14:23
Charles emerged from the squad car, gaunt and pale. Only 14, he had just been released from intensive care where he had recovered from a near death experience. He had a gaping hole from a tracheotomy, one arm that just dangled, and (we found out later) a bullet still lodged in his side. He couldn’t go home, because there were still people who wanted him dead.
And so, he settled into life on the mountain. He had a charming way about him that made you forget his reputation and your immediate impression. He had a very winsome smile, tried to do what was asked of him, and was thoughtful of others,
Charles had one big problem—hormones. This affected him in two ways: acne and a weakness for girls. One we treated with special soap. The other was often the cause of him running away.
By 16, he’d gotten his swagger back, and was having trouble in school. I remember sitting with him, trying to get him to think logically about his potential. He finally looked up at me, his bravado melting and his blue eyes glistening with tears as he said, “I’m 16. I can’t read. What future is there for me?” It was a rare moment of complete transparency. He soon ran away permanently to live with his girlfriend and her family, not a half mile from the ranch. We were crushhalfed, fearing what would become of him.
Flash forward to today, Charles, now 20, is still with the same girlfriend. He lives with her family, and is now anxious to find a regular job so he can start his own family, and eventually find a career. He has stayed in touch with us and has kept out of trouble—completely. Although he did not attend church, he never let go of the things he learned during his time with us.
A few months ago, with our daily vocational courses for 500 day students still suspended due to the pandemic, we discussed holding special classes for a limited number of former students who could benefit from an extra nudge. Charles got wind of this and was waiting in the courtyard at 7:00 a.m. the next day, before we officially approved the plan. He got private classes for two weeks before others joined him.
One of our team members was able to find him a job at an automotive accessories store. He described visiting Charles a couple weeks later, who bounced over to him like Tigger,
“Look! My first honest paycheck!” That was three months ago, and he is still doing great.
It is for our young adults, like Charles and his fiancee, that we have dreamed about starting a community-based alumni church at the Hope Mountain Campus, as we have had for the past decade at our original City of Youth Campus. I know they would come, and find it their watering hole. We want them to draw close to Christ there. We want them to be married there. And then, dedicate their children. That is our dream. Pray with us that it will come true.
Pray that we can find ever more effective ways to stay involved in our children’s lives after they leave the safety of our nest. Pray for Charles. And pray for all those struggling with doubts about their abilities and uncertainty about their future.