Last week I shared Part 1 of Daniel’s story. If you missed it, you can read it HERE. This will make more sense if you read it first.
The Book of Daniel – Part 2
Sometimes the stories of the streets, of the street children rescued from the traffickers, of the boys leaving the drug trade, don’t turn out the way we want. Or perhaps there are some detours on the path – on the way to completion of the story.
And sometimes the stories demand that we step far beyond our places of comfort, and encounter evil in its stronghold, on that edge.
Daniel did not stay as he had promised he would. He missed his family, perhaps chafed a bit under the discipline of life at Hope Mountain, missed his reputation as a tough kid on the streets.
But he is gone, and we are worried. Very worried.
Tragically, for no reason, Daniel ran away last weekend. He was doing great, one of our most exemplary students. His mother came to Hope Mountain yesterday to tell us that Daniel is staying with her, but she is very worried about him. It was obvious she is a drinker and drug user, and she says her boyfriend wants nothing to do with Daniel, so Daniel is mostly hanging out in the street using drugs.
What concerned her most is the nickname the other boys in the slum have already given to him: Zé Pequeno (Little Jo) – the street name of a famous drug trafficker from Rio de Janiero in the movie City of God.
We promised would come and take Daniel back to Hope Mountain.
Traveling down bumpy dirt roads, passing stray dogs, skinny horses and piles of trash, sometimes I still can’t believe my life, and I think, ‘how did I get here again?’
We finally got to Daniel’s house; despite the dirt roads, the GPS took us straight to his door! The house was clean, although cinder block and concrete walls were only painted halfway to the ceiling, and clearly there wasn’t enough room for everyone sleeping there. This is a new living situation for the family. A new man for mom bringing with him a new house – a situation Daniel has never known. When we got there, he was sitting in front of a video game.
The mother told us there is still a death contract out on Daniel’s life, although he chooses to believe there is not. But even his older brother told us, ‘If he stays here, they’re going to come for him.’
I’m so tired of hearing those words.
We were there for a couple hours, and Daniel just hung his head, barely looking at us, and when I asked him if he was using or selling drugs, he shook his head slowly, no. But with a nickname like Zé Pequeno, it is only a matter of time.
Daniel teared up and hugged us when we got there, and again as we left, but he wasn’t ready to go home with us. He has his new, nice home and video games, and when you are thinking like a 13-year-old, reasoning just doesn’t kick in. Mortality isn’t a concept you can grasp. And before he left Hope Mountain, Daniel had been talking about how much he missed his mom. She would not come to visit him on Saturday visit days, and that was upsetting him. Even though she used to beat him (hence his missing tooth) and was a basket case, the bond between a mother and son is so strong.
We are sure Daniel will come back eventually. I know there are so many things to pray for, but if you have a moment – or you think of it – please pray it will be sooner rather than later – before it is too late. Pray Daniel will contemplate what we said to him, that the Spirit will touch his heart and help him to make a good choice and come back.
Pray there will be a Part 3 to the Book of Daniel.
In the meantime…
If you really want to try to understand “the edge” for kids like Daniel, watch the movie, City of God. (If you’re able to rent the bonus DVD, it includes a 30-minute documentary that is as close to “real life” as I’ve seen.)
And if you want to do something to give these kids a voice:
- Share Daniel’s story via social media.
- Email this post to your friends.
- Leave a comment and start a conversation. We’ve been silent long enough…
This is an incredible story. I will pray that Daniel returns. God will bless both you who are giving so much of yourselves and God’s truth, and all those who are receiving your love and your message.
I am just now reading this. I pray for the ministry of Hope Unlimited almost everyday. But I don’t pray for individual children because I don’t know individual children. I will pray for an individual boy named Daniel now. I will ask the Holy Spirit to help me remember. Please tell me that Daniel has returned to Hope…