14 Oct Day 4: Jonas

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9


I’m always mystified when Jonas texts me. He was tough as nails when he first arrived, but a year later he had transformed into a charming 15-year-old. He starting doing well in school, and he quickly picked up the violin, even traveling with our little band.  I remember pondering deep things with him one day, while he watered the lawn. I told him I saw leadership qualities in him and that God had a special call on his life.

Then, one day, something snapped. He got into a fight with another boy and ran away. A few days later Phil went looking for him, deep into the “boca.” Although he got a tearful hug, it was clear that Jonas was already trafficking for the bosses.

The next day, the bosses sent Phil a warning to not come back.  Soon, Jonas started posting pictures of himself holding bundles of cash.  It was surreal to see these pictures and recognize my young Jonas.

At first Jonas stayed in relationship via social media. Then things went silent. It turns out that he had killed somebody in a drug war and was in prison. Through a prison pastor who also volunteered with us, we got news about Jonas. It was rarely good.

Because the murder happened when he was just 16, the law required that he be released at 20. But just two weeks before his official release, Jonas managed to escape. Why the self-destructive behavior?

Since then, Jonas has texted me several times. Just this week he sent me a message on Facebook that he is going to be a Dad.  The baby is due this April, and he says he’s ecstatic. But he’s not employed, and he won’t be able to get a formal job because he’s a fugitive.

So, what’s next? Is he going to die a drug dealer, like his father? I pray for him. I believe in redemption, and I want to believe his baby will have a different life. With each text he sends, I’m conflicted: joyful that he’s reaching out and has not forgotten us but sad that his life is such a mess and that his sins have affected so many other lives.

Jonas has heard the Word. Pray that he accepts Christ as his savior. Pray that this new baby will have a different life. Pray that this new little life will—finally—be the impetus for true transformation.

Jesus was crucified between two criminals. God wanted us to know that his death on the cross could erase their sins as well. Christ died for Jonas. If only he would accept that

Father, we pray for Jonas and others like him who believe there’s no hope. Help them to turn their eyes to you and accept your gift of forgiveness.