i have known antonio,alberto and momed for 5 years now. they are all boys from poor single parent households and they all lost their dads when they where very young. when i started mentoring them, they where a group of 6 boys all between the ages 11-15.they where some of the worst mannered boys i have ever worked with, all of them didnt know how to respect girls(they where horrible towards females in general) but for some odd reason they tolerated me. they always enjoyed visiting me, when i asked them to do anything they where prompt to do it. these boys became my gardening boys. for two years they came everyday to my house and we worked together, two hours sometimes three hours a day maintaining a garden that had the capacity to feed up to 70 orphan children. we never had bible studies nor did i ever sit them down to teach them anything, we learned through conversations as we weeded the garden, planted vegetables and watered all the beautiful greens that we where growing.
at the end of two years, i started to see less and less of the boys until oneday no one came. it was very hard and very dissapointing for me to see them change, not for the better but for the worst, most stopped going to school, some of them got involved in drinking and they all seemed to have the natural ability to find the worst boys to hang out with. it was not what i had envisaged would happen after two years of mentoring. oneday i realised that there was nothing i could do but let them go completely. i had to tell myself that i had done my part they knew what was right and wrong BUT you cannot force anything on anyone, every one has a choice. sometimes peoples choices are pretty damn stupid if you ask me!for two years i just prayed for them with a sad heart, wondering how they where doing, always fearing the worst.
at the beginning of this year alberto came back, it seems he finally realised how stupid his actions had been and was more than ready to change his ways. eight months later momed was with us again, and a month ago antonio too. the gardening project is no longer running but these three boys(especially alberto) are active members of our church youth group. alberto is back in school and we are working in finding how we can help antonio. all three boys are eager to help our church reach out to the orphans in our community(which is beyond miraculous). every time i see them i want to pinch myself, i trully thought we had lost them, i thought my 2 years invested in their lives had been in vain BUT no, that was not the case…THEY CAME BACK 🙂 i pray that the other three boys will also come back oneday.
friend, if you are involved in helping people change their lifestyles to become Jesus centered lives, you will agree with me that it is very very difficult work, mainly because what you are teaching is contrary to popular culture. there are no easy formulas to helping people, my part is to teach with TONNES of patience and love not to be easily offended and constantly learning to forgive at the drop of a hat. their part is to make the decision: will i stand up and be different from those around me or will i go with the flow?
…i wonder friend, do you like me struggle when to know “its time to let them go?”