30 Oct Day 22
Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Psalm 127:3
Rarely do we have a child who is angry with their parents – even if they grew up neglected and terribly abused. We rarely hear the blame so often heard from entitled kids in the West, who shift responsibility for their bad behavior to one of Mom or Dad’s shortcomings. Instead, there is almost always love and a strong desire for reconciliation. No matter how bad we think the parents are, our team has to work toward that goal – reconciliation.
Carlos’s first memories of home life are good. His mom was dating her boss, who generously lavished them with presents, and even helped them purchase a rudimentary house in the slum. His mother was attentive, even doting.
But then something happened. Even today he doesn’t understand. His mother suddenly lost her job. Along with it, she lost her boyfriend, self-esteem and joy for living. Her depression slipped into mental illness, and she even lost her ability to talk.
When their electricity was turned off, neighbors helped them string wires to steal power from a street light. They became more and more isolated from the rest of the world. To feed his mother, little sister and himself, Carlos took to the streets in search of an income and a diversion from the pain at home. He started trafficking at age 11.
One day a police car drove up with a court order to remove Carlos and his sister from the home –somebody must have alerted local social workers. By this time, his mother never left home. After Carlos left, she even boarded up the windows. Neighbors did what they could for her, but she got very thin, and of course, even more mentally ill.
Being dropped off in a police car, not knowing where they are, is always a terrifying experience for a child. After Carlos acclimated, he was confident, but also withdrawn. Cooperative, but kept his distance. Not a bad kid, but we just couldn’t connect with him. Three months later, he ran away,
One of our house parents went after him. Upon entering the hovel, Luciano had flashbacks to his own adolescence – before he was rescued by Hope nearly 20 years ago. He remembered his own anguish trying to protect his mother from his violent and abusive step father.
With his own money, Luciano paid a neighbor to cut down the 6-foot tall weeds surrounding the house and fixed the boarded up windows. Buying a big bag of groceries, he asked Carlos to return with him to Hope, promising to personally drive him back to visit his mom, who couldn’t visit him and had no phone. Carlos agreed.
We have learned how difficult it can be for a child to concentrate on studying knowing their mother and siblings are hungry at home. Successfully caring for a child often involves providing services to family members. (Our social workers and psychologists spend a good part of each day working with family members. But their load is heavy.)
Carlos was no exception. He emerged from this experience a different kid. He threw himself into his studies, worked hard in his vocational training, and has never been a discipline problem.
He will be graduating soon. Like many of our graduates, one of his greatest motivations is to provide his mother with the care that she was unable to give to him. Fortunately, Carlos is much better equipped than his mother ever was: he has Christ in his life.
Today, pray for reconciliation where tensions exist within families. Pray that all parents, despite their demons, can learn to love, accept, and care for their children. And pray that all children can come to love their parents with the unconditional love of a child — for it is they who will inherit the kingdom of God.