A Story of Hope- written by Micah staff member Stephen Kusmer
|Stephen and Luis Fernando last year|
at street soccer.
The first memories I have of Luis Fernando are of him begging for money in the downtown area of Tegucigalpa. Like the other street kids there, he was often times inhaling glue or paint thinner. At first I always recognized him by the huge scar that he has along one side of his face. Later on, he began to ask me if I could help him start up a chiclera so he could earn some money selling gum and other candies. In those first encounters, I had no idea the journey that God would take us on. I had no idea that this 16-year-old street guy who I only knew as "the kid with a scar who wants to start a chiclera" would end up becoming a close friend and truly like a brother to me.
The truth is, I find myself having to strain to remember when I think back to those first memories. Although I have known Luis Fernando for less than a year, it seems like years have gone by with all that has happened! So many conversations, so many tears, so many setbacks, so many prayers, so many days of desperation. And yet, through all of it, God has done something incredible in Luis Fernando's life. That is the story of hope that I want to share with you.
When God first laid it on my heart to disciple Luis Fernando, I wasn't quite sure what that would look like or entail. But I simply started by seeking him out on the streets and at our street soccer ministry. Soon after, I began meeting up one-on-one with him and talking more, usually over a bite to eat; I would just say the day, time, and place and he would always show up. It wasn't long before I got to know more of his story--the neglect he felt as a child, the instability and rejection of being sent from one street kid center to another, the pain of never knowing his father growing up, and the harsh reality of having to embrace the streets as "home." In one of those first few meetings I had with Luis Fernando, I asked him what his goals for the year were. He wrote down the following: 1) Seek God. 2) Quit using drugs. 3) Start up a chiclera. 4) Find a place to live... Given that he was using multiple drugs on a daily basis, sleeping on the streets every night, surrounded by bad influences, imprisoned by the pain of his past, and bound by an instant-gratification survival mentality, I had my doubts about him ever accomplishing all these goals...
But God is stronger and His ways are higher.
The months that followed were marked by much instability for Luis Fernando. Of all the injustices that he has faced in his life, I believe that his story is most deeply marked by his fatherlessness. At several instances he reached a point of emotional crisis, where the anguish that normally laid tucked away deep in his soul came bursting out into the open. In the more recent of these crisis, I found him lying on the street next to a nearby police station--fearful for his life, crying over and over that all he wanted to do was know who his father was, and thinking about running away to another part of the country where he could find a "fresh start." I ended up spending almost that whole day with him, until I finally got him temporarily into another center for teenage street guys.
Then, after months of gradual change, Luis Fernando had a breakthrough! He called me from that center's phone and shared with me the beautiful news that he'd been touched by God's love and peace, and it was radiating out of his voice in a joy that words can't describe! He had just decided to pick up a Bible, and happened to stumble across the truth of Romans 5:8 and the incredible love that God has for us--even while were were still sinners! His voice was quivering with joy as he shared with me, "Hoy sí tengo alegría. Ya no tengo miedo. Pueden destruir mi cuerpo, pero en mi alma hay una alegría. Ya entiendo por qué podés caminar en la calle sin miedo... Today I have true joy. I am not scared anymore. They can destroy my body, but there is joy in my soul. Now I know why you can walk the streets without fear." He also sincerely thanked me for all my prayers for him along the way, saying how they meant so much more to him than the chiclera I helped him start. That phone call was on the eve of my birthday, and was the best gift I could have ever received. Luis Fernando had found his true Father.
|Stephen and Luis Fernando |
celebrating his birthday.
Today Luis Fernando is earning money by washing car windows, he is drug-free, he has a good relationship with his mom (when I first met him he kept saying how he hated her and didn't consider her his mom), he is living independently in a room that he's renting, and he has a hope in Christ that is the anchor of his soul. Just the other day I celebrated his birthday with him, and I asked him about his relationship with God; he smiled and told me, "I choose Christ, every day." I can't express what a privilege it has been to walk alongside him this past year and see God work in his heart. Luis Fernando's story and friendship will be forever engraved in my heart; God has brought our two radically different paths together, and the things I've seen and the lessons I've learned have forever changed me. Glory be to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! He is working and restoring hope in this world that is so saturated by darkness and despair!
"In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." [John 1:4-5]