When Carlos first arrived at the City of Youth two years ago, he was just like so many of the kids who have come to call the City of Youth their home. He had virtually no contact with his mother and became a child of the streets when he fled a physically abusive father. But we soon realized there was something different about Carlos. He was weak, often short of breath, and simply did not have the robust appearance that a young teenage boy should have. A pediatrician in Campinas scheduled Carlos for a battery of cardiac exams. Before he made it to the tests, however, Carlos passed out on campus and was rushed to a hospital. He was diagnosed with a congenital malformation in a heart valve and immediately transferred to Sao Paulo for surgery. Today, Carlos continues to recover from the surgery, but his heart may never be 100%.
But in another way, Carlos’s heart is just fine. While his physical improvement will take some time, his spiritual transformation has been remarkable. In the weeks following his surgery, Carlos found a close friend in Marcio, another teenage boy at the City of Youth. Marcio is the friend Carlos never had before, someone with whom he can share his hopes, his dreams, and his fears. Carlos and Marcio also have a shared love for music, and together they wrote and performed this song in a chapel service:
Magnificent, my Lord
Jesus Christ, Savior
Companion, Faithful God
Your love carries me to Heaven
I have thought and I have decided
I will accept you in my life
I have decided and I have declared
I want you to be my King
Now I know, and I will tell You:
I will love You until death
It was your love that conquered me
And that is why I am what I am
These words come from a child of the street.
This is the transformation that makes the work worthwhile. So even as we pray that Carlos’s physical heart will continue to heal, we rejoice that this spiritual heart has been made new.