Monday, January 30, 2017

Another Year of Opportunities

New Year's Eve is really a BIG deal in Nicaragua.  We get to see first hand the celebrations up close because we live on one of the most popular parks in all of León fronted by a Catholic church which LOVES to PARTY.   There were fireworks all evening long launched by the neighbors and then the grand finale at midnight by the church.  Two of our Restoration House guys popped in and out all evening long, then came back shortly before midnight because they wanted to usher in the new year together with us.

It's a new year with new dreams, lots of excitement and anticipation of great things to come.  Aren't we all hopeful on January 1?

The month started out busier than usual.  The young men on the streets are tired of street life, the holidays are behind them, the nights are cold with nowhere warm to sleep and maybe it is time to sober up.  Wilber has been taking guys out to The Farm almost daily where the detox process can start.   They come to us with only the clothes on their backs, plastic flip-flops on their feet, hungry and tired.

We feed them, give them a care package consisting of toiletries, change of clothes, hooded sweatshirt, towel, notebook, pen and Bible to sustain them while at The Farm.  Most of the guys do not last the 3 weeks at The Farm, many do not make it beyond a day or two; one young man beat Wilber back to town (Wilber had stopped to talk with friends).  The reasons vary as to why they leave The Farm.  For some it is too "primitive", this spoken by guys that live on the streets - go figure.  Others do not like the structure or rules and are very independent.  Those that make it the longest, think that after a couple days of sobriety they don't need to complete the program.  You can't hold a guy against his will, so they are free to go under their own power - there are no complimentary rides back into town.  I am still amazed at how they can find their way through the maze of cane fields to the main road to hitch a ride.

For a long time, we thought we could love them into submission and/or change.  More recently we have adopted the tough love approach.  Wilber has been trying desperately to get us to change our minds, he was going to prove that love and patience would win them over.  He's now starting to experience the disappointing and discouraging moments.  Pastor Benjamin has stopped trying to talk the guys into remaining in the program at his Farm.  The truth of the matter is the guys are NOT ready to change their lives.  But none of us can make that determination on day one when they come to our home seeking help. Each of us chooses, at that moment, to believe that the requests for help come from weary souls.

How many of us on New Years vow to begin a healthier lifestyle?  How many of us fail within the midst of the first month?  We have all the best information at our fingertips to help us master our minds and bodies to kick old habits and yet we fail.  How much harder must it be for these guys to put aside their destructive choices and behavior when there is no seeming hope on the horizon?  How much pain are they trying to drown out? How much shame are they wanting to block out?   There's no way we can stand in judgement of their momentary desire to change when we cannot keep our resolution to leave the sodas alone or view a lot less Facebook.

There are 2 policies that we have adopted in our ministry.
     #1 - We will not do more for you than you are willing to do for yourself.

     #2 - Jesus always told the sinner, "sin no more", then He went on his way.
We will love them,  treat them with respect, but we will not chase after them; we will let them go until they return to us.

We look forward to this year and all of it's opportunities while remembering that we cannot control the outcome.  We are His hands and feet to extend His love to those He has given free will.