As I’ve mentioned here before, my wife, Susan, blogs at My Place to Yours. She’s my partner on this journey of dirty faith, and this week you get to read her thoughts about a recent story about a street child in Brazil…
Whoever Steals Has to Die
That was the headline last week in the Brazilian newspaper. The article (translated below) tells the conversation between a reporter and a 12-year-old boy arrested and awaiting a hearing about his participation in the attempted murder of a thief in the city of Cariacica.
Tribune: Did you participate in the beating?
Twelve-year-old: I didn’t take part but I saw it. They beat him every which way, threw the propane tank at him, and kicked him. Two of the boys had knives. That’s what happens. He was a thief. He had to get beaten.
What were you doing at the time?
I was in the street, because I don’t have a home any more. I was sniffing paint thinner with my brother.
Why do you live in the streets?
Because I wanted to leave home.
Have you been a thief?
Yes, but nobody has been able to catch me like they caught the guy today. If they had, they would have beaten me too.
Have you been to prison?
For attempted murder. I tried to kill a guy last year. Me and four others. We were released. Only one of the boys is still in prison.
Why did you try to kill somebody?
It was this guy, he was drunk and he crossed my path.
Are you afraid to go to prison?
I’ve been to prison, so I’m not afraid. But I don’t want to go to prison. Where I really want to go is Hope Mountain (a social project that cares for needy children). It’s the best place that exists in the world. They study, and they have schedules to eat, and to take baths. There is a correct time for everything there.
Why don’t you want to return to your parents?
They separated, and my father has a new girlfriend, but we fought because I called her toothless. And I have nothing to do at home. On the streets there is always something to do.
How do you get money on the streets?
I wash cars, like the guy who got beat up. I’ve seen him around.
There you have it… In very few sentences, you just got a vivid glimpse into a boy’s life on the streets. His is the story of millions.
We don’t know who the boy is, but it’s likely he will get his life wish: to go to Hope Mountain. I’m not sure if his information comes from having been to Hope Mountain in the past or simply “word on the street,” but I realized as I read the boy’s words that we have something in common.
He craves order.
At Hope Mountain there’s a wonderful swimming pool, a soccer field at the base of the mountain, palm trees, trips to the beach—but his life is full of chaos, and he knows it. He senses he needs to find stability.
Who knew I could identify with a street kid? I thought we were miles apart—in everything.
I have a roof over my head, clothes to wear, and more than enough food to eat; not him.
I have family who loves me, cares for me; he doesn’t.
I’m educated; he isn’t.
My personal safety rarely crosses my mind; he lives moment-to-moment.
Miraculously, the boy is clinging to hope. Even in the midst of his chaotic life—and against all odds—he wants to believe he’s worthy of something better. That somehow, some way, order and stability, opportunities for good, will find him. That his past and his choices won’t get the final say.
Oh, child… We have something else in common.
And so it happens once again on this journey to dirtier faith… My husband’s words come to mind.
How do we as Christians really see others as Christ did? How do we not define them in terms of who we are—and who they aren’t? . . . You don’t have relationships with circumstances; you have relationships with people. . . . This is about the others (and then discovering there are no others).
Dirty Faith: Bringing the Love of Christ to the Least of These
Teenage boys like this one are being transformed this very minute at Hope Mountain, as are boys and girls at Hope Unlimited’s City of Youth. Godly men and women are committed to making a difference in the lives of broken children, broken homes, broken systems. Young men and women once at mortal risk are now thriving, setting good examples for others just beginning their difficult walk to wholeness.
At their essence, these are kids just like the ones in my life—and yours. Their stories may be different, but we have the same Creator—the same point of origin.
Perhaps we’ve been blessed so we can bless them.
It really doesn’t take much to help a kid THRIVE. Who’s ready to make the investment? Who’s ready to take that step toward dirtier faith?