The Gospel in a Time of Turmoil Part 1

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.-Romans 1: 16

It has been a strange month. We have had protests in São Paulo on weekly basis and sometimes even two or three times in a week. Most of it happens right where we live. Recently we walked through a protest of almost thousand people who are squatters living in abandoned buildings in the old center. They were seeking government assistance for housing. These are mostly landless farmworkers who have earned below minimum wage all of their lives. Their wages are insufficient to pay the exorbitant rental and housing rates. Before squatting in the center, they lived in tiny crowded shacks in the outskirts of the city. They invaded the abandoned buildings in the center in order to have a stronger political presence. They want a place to live and they are willing to pay for it if it is affordable. They thought that the present left-leaning government would come to their aid, but they were mistaken. Tensions run high. We have to walk through these frustrated and angry people to work with the homeless children and teens.

Last weekend, there was another protest which has been organized every month and also known for its violent outbursts. This time it wasn’t poor landless laborers, but middle class university students and young professionals. They are protesting against the World Cup which is going to be held here in less than a month. Their grievance is that the government has been spending tons of tax-payers’ money to build stadiums and host parties for the World Cup Games while neglecting the education and health issues facing the country. The people are saying that they do not want the World Cup in their country. This is saying a lot for a country that is crazy about soccer. This group is even angrier and more violent than the landless farmworkers.

It seems like there is a growing frustration at every level of society. The sad thing is that their demands are not unreasonable, but actually quite basic. They want a better quality of life.

I am an outsider to these protests, but I am not a spectator. As we walk through this angry mob, it is hard not to be affected. We can see their faces and the frustration and desperation in their eyes. They are waiting for something to happen to make their lives better.

I am an outsider by choice and for a specific reason. I am here for the gospel. I am sent by the church for this purpose. The message of the gospel is not detached from the culture and political life of the people. It speaks within the context of our reality. It has to have something important to say in this time of turmoil.

The protestors want a better life for the future. The gospel promises Life in the here and now. However, I think most people believe the promises of the gospel are only for the afterlife. If this was true, then we have nothing to say for those who are frustrated and desperate in this life. The gospel would be inefficient for those who want to know if there is a path to happiness in the here and now. They are looking for answers in political actions and social change. Thanks be to God that the gospel is not a message for tomorrow, but it is a message for today. It is a message of abundant life for the here and now. It is not limited or restricted by powers and principalities. It is not held back by conditions or circumstances. It has the power to bring meaning to our lives when the world around us is in chaos. However, the problem is whether we believe the gospel is able to do this. This is when rational Christianity is not sufficient. The truth of the gospel must be experienced in our daily lives.

The gospel that the apostles preached was powerful even when the church faced unfavorable circumstances. It brought joy and peace to people even when they lost everything. It was sufficient for Paul in plenty and need (Philippians 4:11-13). The gospel does not need anything else added to it to become successful or appealing. It brings contentment in itself. It is this gospel that we need to rediscover to preach to those who are desperate and frustrated, whether they are the homeless children that we serve, or the landless farm laborers or the university students. They protest for a better tomorrow. The gospel offers abundant life in the here and now. We need faith to believe in the power of the gospel to fulfill what it claims.


A Bittersweet Reunion

Better is a little with righteousness than large income with injustice.- Proverbs 16:8

A young woman in her early thirties came up to me while I was talking to a young teenager and she asked if I was staying for good this time. I was taken aback; it was not a question I was expecting from a complete stranger. Then her face began to look familiar. I knew her as a young homeless teenager twenty years ago. Her name is Marcia and she had her fifteen year old daughter, Karin, with her. Marcia named her daughter after one of the German missionaries that worked with us then. I was quite surprised that Marcia remembered me. She told me that she left the streets not long after we left Brazil. She is no longer addicted to drugs nor does she engage in any criminal activities: all of this is in the past. Now she works hard to make ends meet. She has three children and she is recently unemployed. However, she has been doing odd jobs and selling sodas in the streets to help pay the bills. She was in the center doing exactly this. Before she left she told me that she will never forget the day we took her to a picnic with us in a local state park. I can’t hardly remember that day, but for her it was an occasion that marked her soul. I was happy to reconnect with Marcia and I wrote to our friend, Karin, about her. She delighted that Marcia named her daughter after her.

I had a second encounter with our past yesterday.

We found a small community of homeless people who invaded an abandoned park and use old wood and cardboard boxes to build shacks there. There are about a hundred people living there. Most of the older homeless teens have moved to this place. They call this place the Tent. The Tent has a gate and only those who are invited can enter and remain here safely. It is quite dangerous as some of the occupants are robbers and drug dealers. We were invited to this place. It is not exactly a slum area even though it looks like one. There are many children here and we do activities with the children in hopes of stopping the children from making the transition from the Tent to the streets. There are many drugs dealers here but they have their children with them. There are also many here who just want a home or place to live. Some of our older teens fall into this category.

While we were talking to a young boy, a woman came to us and asked if we were missionaries. Again, the question threw me off because most of the time people think we are a social agency, not a church. She saw my confusion and smiled and told us that she remembered us when she was thirteen years living in the streets. She is thirty three now. Her name is Glacia. She has five children but only two are with her. She gave up the street life and does not smoke or drink any alcohol. She decided that she wanted something better. She worked as a maid in another city and lost her job recently. She returned to São Paulo, but was not able to get a job here as well. She moved to the Tent because there is a possibility that the people here will be moved to a housing project. No one knows if this will ever happen but this is their hope.

Twenty years ago, Mary and I worked among the homeless children in the same area. There were about two hundred children concentrated in one particular section in the red light district. Marcia and Glacia were two of these children. I asked Glacia what happened to most of the children. She said that most of them are dead. They were involved in crimes and eventually were killed by violence or drugs. There were only a few that were alive and these were the ones who chose to leave the streets. To tell you the truth, the reality of what she said did not hit me until much later. Perhaps I did not want to believe it. However, when we worked with these children and teens twenty years ago, we always thought that most of them would end up dead if they did not leave the streets. Those who left the streets continue with life’s struggle. There is no fairy tale ending for any of them. Most of them continue to live in abject poverty. Marcia and Glacia struggle to make sure that their children do not go to the streets like them. Glacia lost two of her children because she could not take care of them. She did not have the means. She gave them up for adoption.

Life continues to be hard but it does not mean that they are hopeless. Glacia hopes to get a home in this city. It does not matter if it is tiny and even in the worst neighborhood. She wants a roof for her children. I think she will get it. She has managed to stay afloat all these years even though she barely earned enough to pay the rent. She managed to stay off the streets. She is determined to survive. Marcia will make it as well. Both of them won’t be millionaires but they are true survivors. We are proud to be part of their lives. They give me courage to press on. Their lives put everything in perspective for me. The challenges I face are nothing compared to their daily struggles. Yet they remember the simple things we did for them.


Can we change the political system?

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”-John 18:36

In my last post there was some criticism made through the social network that I was not addressing the need to change the political system. The reason why I did not address the corrupt system is because I don’t believe that we can change it. I am also not convinced that the most effective way to serve the homeless is through political change. We are living in the 21st century and we cannot be so naive as to believe that there is a political party or system that is going to resolve the problems in the world. I do believe that in order to achieve any kind of substantial change in the lives of the poor we need to be realistic. Believing in political solutions for poverty is not realistic in my opinion.

“For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good but Me you do not have always.”-Mark 14:7

Jesus was not being pessimistic when He said this. He was being realistic. We cannot make any positive changes in our society without realizing that the poor will always be with us. There will always be injustice in this world. Jesus did not try to overthrow the oppressive Roman Empire but He established something even better in its place. He established the Kingdom of God which transcends all the kingdoms of the world. The Kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom. However, there is a tendency to think of spiritual as something shadowy or unreal or impractical. This is the pagan idea of spiritual existence. The Christian idea is that the spiritual reality is the acknowledgement of a deeper Truth that exists beyond the material reality. The world functions on a material level. It attempts to address issues on a temporal and limited foundation. God works on eternal goals which are superior and profound. They are not goals reserved for life after death. They are effective changes that transform our here and now.

The Kingdom of God works in the heart of the individual. This perhaps is quite uncomfortable for those who believe in a social gospel ideology. They might think that I am suggesting a purely personal individualized religion. I think an individualized religion is not compatible with the Christian religion. Everything Jesus did was for the common good. He died for the common good. The apostles gave their lives serving the common good. They did not sit in political councils or spend time discussing the latest theological or political ideas or concepts from a distance. They went to meet individuals and communities and became instruments of love and humility in direct interaction with the poor and the forgotten.

Any casual reading of the Bible would show that God has a preference for the poor. It is not that the poor deserve it. No one deserves God’s preference. God chooses certain groups to be His vehicle to reveal His love. He chose the Jewish people because they were marginalized and ostracized and God exalted them to be His channel of blessing to the world. God chooses the most unlikely candidates to reveal His goodness. The world political system chooses people based on a different standard; even the socialist systems choose among the elite to be their spokespersons. Jesus chose fishermen and women and other marginalized people to be His spokespersons.

We serve the poor because Jesus is among them through the Holy Spirit. We discover the wealth of the gospel when we serve where Jesus is present. In our ministry, we realize early in our work that we do not have the answers. We also discover that it is not necessary to have the answers. Anyone who thought that they knew how to solve the problem of poverty usually ends up being an enemy of the poor. The poor are not a concept but individual people who have come to this situation because of various factors. A singular theory does not do justice to the problems we face. Education and employment can produce opportunities but they cannot heal the hopelessness. We need a Healer to do this. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of healing and renewal.

We do not have the power to heal but we know that Jesus is alive and active and He is a healer of our souls. We also know that we cannot depend on any political system to bring improvement to the lives of the people. Therefore, we are not going to wait for anyone. We just go and serve the King who is establishing His kingdom through healing and renewal; one soul at a time. We can participate by being His instrument of love and humility. We don’t have to wait for election day to do this. We don’t need money or influential people to promote our cause. We just have to step out of our doorsteps and find the those who are lost and forgotten in our society and the Holy Spirit will welcome you with open arms to participate in the transformative work of our God. This is the only way we can truly change the world.


The Poor are Not Necessarily the Needy

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”- Matthew 5:3

The more we work with the homeless and the poor, the more we realize that being poor is not synonymous with being needy. I think the verse above sums up what I mean by needy perfectly; it is to be poor in spirit. Many of the poor are not necessarily poor in spirit: they are just poor in resources. Christian Ministry is not about ensuring that the poor have resources to become wealthy; it is about discovering the path of true happiness.

It is obvious that we live in a materialistic world. There might be cultures that are less materialistic than others, but eventually the internet will convince them of the vast array of material possessions they need to have before they die. People want or desire to accumulate wealth for one reason. They think that wealth can give them more control of the outcome of their personal happiness. It is really about control. We love to be in control and consequently we love the thing that gives us control.

The love of money has become the goal of society. The rich and middle class send their children to expensive private schools and colleges to obtain successful careers enabling them to become materially wealthy. The poor try to use their limited resources to acquire material possessions but this only drives them to debt and greater poverty. Some of the poor use the negative resources available to them such as violence and criminality to achieve this aim. This is not to say that the rich are not criminals. They just have more resources to exhaust before reaching this point, unlike the poor.

The children and teens living in the streets are no different from the teenagers from the middle class society. They want money to buy the latest iPhone. They want to have tablets and dress in the latest styles. They might be poor but they want control. They want to have the control to determine their happiness and they believe that money and material possessions give them this control. As long as they desire this control over their happiness, they will never be poor in spirit. They will just be poor in resources. Giving them resources at this point is not the same as pointing the way to happiness. It is just helping them to become miserable rich teenagers.

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?-Matthew 16:26

The point where the poor become poor in spirit or needy is when they decide to pursue different goals than the rest of society. This is where the gospel comes in. The gospel gives us two options in regards of the pursuit of money.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”-Matthew 6:24

Mammon is our way of controlling our perceived happiness and the gospel says that we have to give up this pursuit and see the true path to Happiness. We tell teenagers who are in prison or dealing drugs in the streets to give up their source of income and settle for the evangelical happiness. For most of them, this means embracing a life of poverty without any resources for materialistic living. In this society, the kind of jobs available to them will be low paying jobs. They can educate themselves but most of them won’t have the time or money to do this. They will most likely never own a house or a car. They will struggle to pay rent every month. They will be truly needy as they will have to give up the pursuit of wealth as their goal. Before they can make this bold step towards becoming poor in spirit they need to be sure that material wealth does not contribute to their happiness. They have to see that those who preach the gospel are practicing what they preach. This is not just us, but everyone who preaches the gospel. We need to learn to be needy as well. We need to make sure that we don’t accumulate wealth to gain control of something is beyond our control. We need to realize that only those who give up their control to seek happiness will find it in the One who possesses it.



Discerning the Shepherd’s voice

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.-John 10:1-4

I used to be quite confident about hearing God’s voice. Then I met schizophrenic people who hear voices constantly. I met people who use God’s name for their own self-centered goals. It made me question myself; Am I  really listening to God’s voice, or am I just fooling myself ? I became a little embarrassed about claiming to hear God’s voice. This is not a bad thing. We should be careful how we speak about God. His Name has been used in a frivolous manner. Instead of saying He speaks to us, it would be more powerful to show how His words have changed our lives. This would be a true sign of God’s actions in our lives.

John the Baptist said to those who coming to get baptized to bear fruits to show their true devotion. People can claim to hear God’s voice but the Word of God must produce fruits consistent with the Nature of God. In the Book of Genesis, the words of God always produces goodness in the concrete sense. They bring forth beauty and order.  Order, in the Biblical sense, leads to conditions that are conducive to a complete and fulfilled Life. Therefore, anyone who claims to listen to God’s voice must manifest the actions of beauty and orderly love that lead to an abundant life. Besides, the words of God are always manifest in actions. In a way, they are synonymous.

I write this meditation with two particular teenagers, Yuri and Bruno, in mind. Both are in a crucial stage in their lives. They have listened to different voices in the past and were led them down the path of self-destruction. Now, they want to discern the voice of the Good Shepherd. They don’t know how to do it.

No religion can make God speak or act in our lives. Our rituals and ceremonies cannot make Him act. Our knowledge and doctrines do not make Him speak. God will only speak and act if it is in His nature.

Jesus, for Christians, is the evidence of God’s personal desire to act in our lives. The Gospel of John refers to Jesus as the Logos, which is inadequately translated as the Word, but for this post this translation will suffice. It reflects God’s willingness to communicate to the world. The image of the personal God is reiterated further through the Good Shepherd. The Shepherd seeks and comforts His sheep with His voice. His words bring healing and peace to our souls. His words bring beauty to our lives. They lead us to abundant Life.

Still, there is the question of how to discern God’s voice. We cannot teach people how to hear God’s voice but we can show them that He still speaks today. The best way to do this is to follow where His voice leads us. We heard His melodic voice calling us here and it has lead us to Yuri and Bruno. The Good Shepherd has enriched our lives with the presence of these two boys and many others like them. We can tell Yuri and Bruno that we are here because the Lord’s voice brought us here. The sound of His voice is our compensation. Perhaps for the time being they may not be able to discern His voice clearly. One day they will discern it for themselves and they will realize that He has always been speaking to them.


Waiting for a Vacancy

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.-John 10:11-15

A teenager came up to us and said that he wanted our help to find a halfway house. We were a little hesitant at first because it was quite random. We thought perhaps he was just saying this because this is what we want to hear. It is quite common for the children to say things like that to get our attention. However, this boy was serious. He said that he just ran away from a shelter where he stayed for a week and he regrets his decision. Now he wants to return. This is not an easy task. We cannot just bring him to the nearest shelter and hope that they will take him. This boy is seventeen and legally he is still a minor. We have to follow the proper protocol for a minor. It is a walk through the labyrinth of bureaucracy.

Our first stop was at the Counsel for the Rights of Minors. This is the body which helps minors find a shelter and the Law states that whenever a homeless minor wants to leave the streets, they have to provide a shelter immediately. This is on paper, but the reality is completely different.

We entered the office and there was a balcony with three staff behind it sitting at their desks. No one wanted to attend to us even though there were five of us standing there waiting. Finally, one convinced the other that it was her turn. She came up reluctantly and asked what we wanted. The boy had his head down and was feeling intimidated. The staff did not help to make the situation better. She treated him with almost disdain and asked if he had a home or family in the city. The boy responded meekly that his parents died when he was two and he has been living in and out of shelters ever since. Then the staff turned to us and told us about the procedures to find shelter. She never once after this acknowledged the boy’s presence. She informed us that there was a slim chance that they might find a shelter today. However, while they try to find a vacancy, the boy had to wait in another agency which was about half hour away.

We walked together with the teenager to this other place. When we got there, no one had been informed that we were going there. However, the staff here were more cordial and they spoke with the teenager and tried to make him feel comfortable. There were at least five people in the office, but only one was in the streets working with the homeless people. We waited until six and there was no call from anyone. The teenager was told that he should return tomorrow. He had to spend the night in the street. He was used to it and he did not mind. We had our doubts that he would return the next day. We were surprised: he did.

The next day he spent the whole day waiting. Finally they received a call from another agency that was responsible for finding him a shelter and they claimed that in their system he was already living in another shelter. Therefore they could not find him a new place to stay. Well, this was the final straw and this boy gave up and went back to the streets. We called the agency and they told us that they made a mistake and the teenager in their system was another one with the same name. However, there was really very little chance that there would be a vacancy in any shelter for the next few days. They said that they would call us and then we can look for the boy and take him there if he still wants to go.

The teenager’s name is Kaique. This has been his reality his whole life. He moved from one shelter to another. We have visited these shelters and we understand why he would want to run away. They look like detention centers without locks and gates. Kaique wants a better life but he is trapped in two worlds. When he is in the shelter, he is thinks that life in the streets is better and when he is the streets, he gets disillusioned. The bureaucracy and the lack of compassion among some the staff makes it hard for a young boy to do the right thing. This is why we don’t want to receive any funding from the local government. We don’t want to be trapped in this world of bureaucracy.

Is there hope for someone like Kaique? Well, we don’t have the answers for his housing problem right now. We don’t know how to help him right now. However, there is an answer. It is not waiting for the government or the bureaucrats to do something for him. These agencies are the hirelings that Jesus talked about. They are not interested in Kaique. Only the Good Shepherd lays down His life for Kaique. It is best not to depend on hirelings. We hope to walk with Kaique and find ways to help him find his autonomy. The Good Shepherd is opening the way but we need to discern His voice. He is real and present. Most importantly, He has compassion for Kaique. I cannot say this for the government agencies that claim to be fighting for the rights of the minors.


Faith in Action or Just Plain Wisdom

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.-James 2:14-17

How do we share the gospel in a culture saturated with Christian symbols and jargon?

It is not uncommon to see a homeless man lying on a dirty blanket in the streets holding a bottle of rum in one hand and reading the Bible. The children can sing hymns or choruses and pray extemporaneously and then sniff cocaine immediately after the “amen”. Even the drug gangs have adopted Evangelical Christianity as their religion. They memorize Biblical verses and write their favorites verses on the walls of the buildings to mark their drug territories. Even though I believe that their faith is real but there is no denying that something is obviously missing. Their faith does not seem to affect their reality.

As we can see from the writings of St. James above this is not just a modern problem. It has been with us since the beginning of the church. We have a tendency to keep our spirituality separate from our daily life. We want God as Plan B. The homeless children and teens believe in God but they want Him to bail them out only when they are in trouble. At regular times, they like put God in the closet and take Him once in a while to play with Him. They are like most people in this sense. I don’t think this is just a Christian problem. It is a human problem; people want spirituality, but they are not willing let it influence their daily lives.

However, faith without works is dead. It is an empty faith. It is not a life-giving faith. Most importantly, it is not the faith of the gospel message.

A young teenager, Sebastião, told us that he had an experience with God while he was in a shelter ran by a Catholic Order. He said that it was the first time he sensed the presence of God in a real way. He was new to us but he has been in the streets for years. He stayed in the shelter which he enjoyed but eventually ran away to the streets. His faith did not help him in his decision process and I don’t think he made the connection. I don’t think he knew that faith had anything do to with his daily life. Perhaps this is the fault of our Christian message today. It is faulty. It is Christianity without actions. We have forgotten to teach that genuine faith influences our actions. There is a word in the Bible that joins faith and action in a positive way. The word is wisdom.

Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. There is a lot of knowledge in the world today but there is not much wisdom. Knowledge is not accessible to everyone but wisdom is available to the poorest of the poor. However, wisdom cannot be taught; it has to be lived. This is why the Incarnation is important. Jesus lived among us to show how to connect our spirituality to our practical daily life. Knowledge can be taught by words but wisdom is seen through example. The gospel is only powerful when it reveals the wisdom of God to those around us. Sebastião experienced something real and he shared with us in hopes that we would show him what to do with this experience. He wants his experience to translate to actions. We cannot teach him, but we have to show him. To fulfill this, we need to be seekers of wisdom.

We cannot expect the homeless children and teens to connect their spirituality to real life if we ourselves do not do it. We cannot share the gospel effectively if we cannot show through our lives that it is wisdom that leads to abundant life. I guess this is the most effective way to preach the gospel in a culture saturated with Christians symbols and jargon.


Bruno’s Intellectual Awakening

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.-Romans 12:2

“Why is it dark on one side of the earth and light on the other?”

“Do we live inside in the earth or on the earth’s surface?”

“If we live on the surface, why don’t we fall off the face of the earth since the world is round?”

These are common questions that a child would ask a parent at a young age. They don’t ask just anyone but only people whom they trust to help them understand the world. In our case, these questions came from a fifteen year old. Normally this would be sad. We expect a fifteen year old to know these basic questions. However, for us, these questions marked a new beginning. They were questions that we answered joyfully because they were signs of a mind that is being renewed.

Bruno was born an adult. He was never given the chance to be a child. His whole family is involved in drugs. His mother is in her early thirties and she was living in the streets when we first worked here. She does know not anything else but the streets and the only way she learned to survive was through dealing drugs. Unfortunately, it was the only trade she could teach her children.

Bruno is a lanky soft-spoken fifteen year old who loves to draw and he does this very well. He has been incarcerated for the past nine months for dealing drugs. All the staff working in the center say that he is an obedient and well-behaved teenager. We visit him every other week. It takes us quite a while to get to the detention center. The center is on the other side of the city where his family lives in a nearby slum. It takes his family about five minutes to walk to the detention center but he has yet to receive a visit from his mother or any of the relatives. He told us this without any hint of disappointment or sadness. For him, it was just part of his reality.

Bruno hardly speaks whenever we visit him. He listens intently to whatever we have to say and then he prays together with us. He speaks with a low voice and sometimes it is hard to hear him. At the end of our visit, he hugs all of us. He doesn’t show much emotion but enough to let us know that he appreciates our visit. One thing Bruno has been consistent and vocal about is his decision to leave the streets. He told us that he was afraid to die and he did not want to spend his life in prison. We told him that we would walk together with him and help him figure out how to survive as well as flourish in life. We reiterate at every visit that it is going to be tough and he made his first tough decision last month.

Bruno was entitled to be released to his home if he wanted. However, he made the hard choice and decided to remain incarcerated until they found him a shelter or a halfway house. Bruno never said anything negative about his mother but he knows that change is not possible unless he is willing to leave behind his family and seek a better life. The challenge of Jesus is a reality for Bruno.

“If any man come to Me and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”- Luke 14:26

Bruno’s family would most likely interpret his refusal to return to the family as rejection and even hatred. Bruno has made the hard choice of leaving behind his family so that he could discover Life.

All his life, Bruno was never given the chance to be intellectually curious. He never had the opportunity to ask questions about the environment around him. In fact, none of the children in the streets have demonstrated any intellectual curiosity about anything. Therefore, when Bruno asked the above-mentioned questions, it was a good sign. It was a sign that his mind is slowly changing. He is learning to allow the child that is trapped within him to come out and marvel at the world around him. He is beginning to realize that there is a world out there for him to discover and he feels secure to ask us about it.

Bruno turns fifteen on May 9th. He hopes to be in shelter or halfway house by then. It might not be a possibility. Either way, we are going to visit him and celebrate this day with him. You can join us by thanking the Creator for his life and pray that Bruno will continue to discover the beauty of this Life that God has given him daily.