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Serving street boys in Peru

Serving street boys in Peru

Looking back through my journals of the mission trips I have taken to Peru, I am reminded of many faces, many emotions and so many stories.

Undoubtedly, each of these things are a part of my heart in a way that I sometimes cannot fully explain. From the very first trip, I heard some of the stories of how these boys came to be abandoned. Then, surprisingly for me, that trip (12 years ago!) began my journey as part of their lives, watching them grow a little (or a lot!) year after year, praying that the Lord would comfort and provide for them, that they would come to know the one who has their names written on His hand. Now the “original” boys from that first year are adults. Their lives have taken many different directions. Some of their whereabouts are not known and a few are no longer living.

Through the years, for each of the abandoned boys, the questions to be answered are these: How do you comprehend a life of abandonment by your parents? Most cling to the hope that their mother really does want them back, even though they are made to believe that they deserve abandonment.

How do you cope with being alone on the streets of a city, being sexually abused, tortured by the police, thought of as a “street rat,” abhorred by your own culture, momentarily easing the pain by sniffing glue? Can their emotional and physical scars ever be completely healed in this life?

Furthermore, how do you begin to trust someone who takes you in, feeds you, and tells you about a man called Jesus? Many never feel worthy enough to believe that someone so great could love them much less die for them. One of the staff workers once told the story of Jesus standing before Pilate and how the Bible says that, “He opened not his mouth.” This touched a place in the boys’ hearts since the only one possession they have that no one can take away is their “truth,” their life’s story, their “silence.” Many boys wept that day and came to know Him personally realizing that, in this way, “He is just like us.”

How do you manage to keep yourself alive again if you decide not to trust those people and run back out into the streets? If left on the streets, the life expectancy is about 18 years. Finally, how do you make a living without much marketable skill or have a “normal” marriage and family? There are stories of success and failure.

As one who has witnessed the boys wrestle quietly with these questions, I wrestle myself with the fact that I can do little for their physical well being and that their futures are uncertain. The only thing it seems that I can do is to love them and pray for them. Injustice, destruction and wickedness is all around yet, as with Habakkuk’s cry (Hab.1:1-5) and the Lord’s answer, He assures me that, “I am doing something in your days—you would not believe if you were told.”

Paul Clark, who began this ministry through Scripture Union, assures that even if we did nothing else while we are there, it is enough just that we came and that we pray. While we cannot change the past for these boys, nor can we control their future, we can share the love of Jesus with them while we are together…that the best hope for them (or any of us) is that they will come to know Him as their Savior so that when they pass to the next life, they are safe in His loving arms, cared for, comforted, all needs met, with no pain or suffering anymore.

In the midst of it all, there is great joy in being a part of their lives. It is an unspeakable blessing to have a former street boy write his name on your Bible and pray aloud for your family; to have a boy run across a field toward you, happily shouting your name just to see you; to have your nose broken and scratched during construction in a way that leaves a scar matching the scar on the face of one of the boys…I could go on and on and on. It is a glimpse of eternity, a taste of the joy to come and an extreme privilege to be a tiny part His plan for the boys in Peru.