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.