15 Oct Day 5: Emeliano

“For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging others is the standard by which you will be judged.”
Matthew 7:2

Weekly house parent “Date Night” after all the children are asleep. Emeliano is in the back, in orange.

Life is messy. And people in ministry are broken, impulsive and struggling—just like everyone else. Several of our staff are former street kids, and have struggled with addiction. For some, their only “crime” was to be orphaned. Others have had more sordid pasts. And we live together—neighbors, on one campus, all of us broken in one way or another, as we try to meet the needs of the broken children we serve as best we can. And sometimes it gets messy.

Emeliano and Denise came to work as house parents Christmas of 2017, along with their two wonderful children, ages 14 and 16.

We first met Emeliano while visiting an adolescent drug rehab center, and eventually convinced him to come and work for us. We hoped his expertise would add value with the growing number of young kids coming to us addicted to hard drugs. He had once been a user himself, but he had been clean for 15 years. Denise was a teacher.

After 13 months with us, the daily stress of being a house parent got to Emeliano. He relapsed—badly. He had to leave, and he was admitted into a long-term Christian rehab program.

When Emeliano relapsed, Denise lost not only a husband, confidant and best friend; she also lost her income, her residence and the father of her children. We now faced the quandary of what to do with his family. Do we remove them? All sin and fall short. But what was our continuing responsibility?

Many times during my travels, I encounter churches and families who are suffering because someone in ministry has fallen from grace. Each situation is different, and responses vary. We chose to embrace Denise, Rebecca, Davi and by extension, even Emeliano—a decision which was not popular with everybody. The family continues to live on campus and be part of our family, helping out wherever they can. Emeliano is allowed to visit his family for a few hours every 15 days.

Is there room to fall and be broken when you are in ministry? In ministry, you often find yourself in a “fish bowl,” where everyone can see. It brings “judge not lest ye be judged” to a new level.

Pray today for everyone in ministry, all of us, around the country and overseas. Pray for compassion and grace with one other, for Satan to be kept at bay, and for unity. We are a family. We need each other.


Father, we pray for healing in this family—that this stumble will become a victory through which they can serve even more effectively. And we do ask that you will give us grace and humility, knowing that all of us are sinners.