Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Story of Hope

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]

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 12

Good morning! We just wanted to give you a quick update on things happening around Micah.

1. Pedro Luis was granted his Visa last week! Praise the Lord! He will be leaving next week with Becca Bell and traveling to St. Louis and then on to Honey Rock in Wisconsin.  We are so thankful that everything came together and that he is able to go to the US.  Pray for PL as he prepares for his trip, may he be filled with the peace of the Lord and not feel anxious or nervous.

2. Today we are having a dedication ceremony for Micah 2.0.  We pray that all may go well and that it may be a special time for the Micah community as well as the Villa Linda Miller community.  We have a group from First Presbyterian Church Houston, TX with us this week.  A few of the members will be participating in the ceremony today.  We are so thankful to have them here to share this special day with us.

 3. This week we will be officially launching our capital campaign! (more details about that to come) Pray that everything will come together and may the mission and vision of Micah 2.0 be spread!

Thank you for your prayers and support! We are excited and thankful about all the things happening  around Micah.

Grace and Peace.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Prayer Requests: June 5

Hello dear friends and family of the Micah Project! Please join us this week in lifting up the following things to our Heavenly Father:

-Mama Jo's Bakery recently signed a contract with Espresso Americano, a Starbucks type coffee shop here in Honduras.  Beginning in July they will be selling several of their products to many of the branches here in the city! They also received an order from another coffee shop, The Coffee Cup, for their cinnamon rolls.  Praise the Lord that business is booming and that they were able to get contracts with the major coffee shops.  May everything continue to operate smoothly without the direction of Natasha, as she is heading back to the states this week.  May the women step up and accomplish what they need to.

-This week we are starting some new changes in our weekly schedule.  On Mondays the boys will be going out to Micah 2.0 and working on whatever needs to be done, a great way to get them moving and to make them feel part of the process of building Micah 2.0.  The boys will also have "elective" classes twice a week where they can choose an activity that interests them (guitar, English, art, cooking, just to name a few) and develop their skills in that area.  Pray that they boys will adapt well to these changes and may they enjoy learning a new skill that could benefit them in the future.

-As we wrote last week, Pedro Luis finally received his passport. However due to complications at the bank and Embassy we have still not be able to get a visa appointment for him.   We are working with the embassy in order to hopefully get him an appointment for this week.  We know that the process is in the Lord's hands and all we can do is trust in Him and His plans.  May Pedro experience God's peace whatever the outcome may be.

-This past Sunday night we had a "family meeting" during which we expressed our concern for the boys attitudes and behaviors and challenged them to really live out the Micah goal of "forming Christian leaders in Honduras."  It was a powerful time of confession and reflection.  Our prayer is that the boys may realize the consequences of their words and actions and begin to make changes in their attitudes and daily lives that reflect their lives in Christ.  Pray for guidance, wisdom, and courage for the boys.

We thank you for fighting the good fight with us and for praying for the boys, the staff, and the ministry.  We couldn't do it without people like you supporting and encouraging us. Gracias!
Grace and Peace.