When I first heard about this young man named Nell, it had not been a good night. Two of the boys who live at the mission had been out catching spiders in the late evening – long after they should have been in bed. Spiders often become pets around here. Anyway, they were hunting, when one of them realized that someone was up in a tree above them. Suddenly a flip flop fell out of the tree and the boys knew they were right – a trespasser was on the grounds. They began yelling and other boys – older ones – came running from every direction. The boy in the tree was caught and held by four young men as more cries for help went up. Quickly those cries roused our mission administrator, Salvador, who is also a police office and is Kristie’s body guard / escort. He wasted no time in getting hold of this young man rather roughly and questioning him. There was much yelling and talking back and forth. The Americans living on that side of the compound stayed put on the patio above as all of this unfolded. But then the puzzling happened. One moment this boy is in the death grip of Salvador and the next second, he is at the kitchen table being fed and listened to as he tells his story.
By morning, the boy’s family had been contacted, his story was confirmed, and he had moved onto the compound to live. His story is similar to so many around here – a family in need, a difficult child, not enough food, problems at home, a young man who needs a chance. Enter Naomi’s Heart Mission and the heart of Salvador Sevillano.
Nell has been living here at the compound now for a couple months. He has been attending Bible study and doing his chores and has been doing well. Then I was caught by surprise again. I went out with the Community Outreach Team on their daily trip to somewhere in General Santos City to do Bible Study, medical outreach, and a lugaw feeding and who should be in the truck, but Nell. He is loading and unloading equipment and furniture. He is helping with setup. Then he sits himself down on one of those box percussion instruments and begins accompanying the guitar player as the team leads the people in a time of praise and worship. And he is good. Nice, steady rhythms, singing along, being a part of all that is going on.
Where else would you get to see a young man caught as a trespasser turned into a ministry worker and being a part of sharing God’s word even as he is still learning it himself? But this is what mission work is all about. It is about seeing God work in people that have no hope and need a second, third, fourth, fifth chance. What a testimony Nell will some day share of redemption, forgiveness, and salvation.
Nell still has a ways to go. He is a kleptomaniac, which makes it even more interesting that Salvador sees such potential in him. Nell has admitted this and is working with one of our pastors to break this addiction. He wants to change. He wants to be healed and we are all cheering him on – and praying for God to do what is so hard for any of us to do on our own – break the chains and free us of our past sins. But God is able. The blood of Christ will pour over Nell as he seeks to follow him and turns his life around. He did it for me. He did it for you. He will do it for Nell.
As a side story, when we go out on CSM, everyone gets involved doing whatever needs doing. This is Nestor (wearing a cloth on his head – common here to keep the sun off).
Nestor drives for the CSM team. This little girl came up to get some lugaw with a metal bowl. Our lugaw is served VERY hot. Nestor took the bowl, took the hand of the little girl, walked her across the field all the way back to where the people were gathered, sat her up on a bench, and set her bowl down before her. It was the cutest thing. I looked up a few minutes later, and here he came across the field with a second little child and her metal bowl! There is no task too small to be appreciated in the service of our King. (I don’t think this one was too happy about me taking her picture while she was trying to eat.)