Like an unwelcome guest it arrives and knows not its limits. As the news of it sinks in and its reality begins to settle upon us it becomes the unwelcome proof of need. Our vulnerability reveals our need for love. Our mistakes reveal our need for forgiveness. Our fear reveals our need for protection. Our loss reveals the need to mourn. Our mourning the need to heal. Our innate sinfulness reveals our greatest need in our Savior Jesus Christ.
I have wanted to share this story, yet hesitated to reveal a level of such vulnerability. We all love a “success” story, right? I’ve written around the subject of defining success, and somehow I am confident that even this unwelcome proof of need will somehow be woven into a story of success, a story of redemption – possibly many stories of redemption. And in the meantime I mourn.
Patchouko’s heart was broken for the broken lives of young men living in the street. Where others saw violence, anger and rage he saw hope and the desperate need for salvation. “It’s as if society has thrown them away”, he said. “I cannot pretend I don’t see them, their faces are all I can see”. And, so, he invited them in – but not only them. His words still ring in my ears, “We need to love the whole family. If we just reach the boys nothing really changes. Parents need to see their responsibility, and they need to know that they can provide for their children. We need to show them.”
“They will never change”, some said. “You are making a big mistake”, many told him. Undaunted, he set out with a few friends and the love of God to do the right thing. One right thing followed by the next right thing, followed by the next right thing, never too sure of what may come next. Uncharted territory, unlimited challenges, immeasurable faith and unlimited unconditional love. Then they began to change. People began to notice. THEY began to notice the change in themselves. They began to feel the disappointment when the next thing they did wasn’t the next right thing, but instead it was the old wrong thing. There was (and continues to be) forgiveness, second chances, love and education. There is hope.
Then comes that mistake that occurs not within your realm of safety, but out in the world of temptation, the world that is so familiar. He had to know it was not a good idea. He had to know it could not end well. News traveled to Patchouko and the staff at ASL. This is not going to be easy. This will require repentance and a public act of humility to be made right. This choice can only be made by the accused. . .who chooses temptation over the next right thing. One of our own, ultimately choosing everything we have been praying against, everything that Patchouko and his staff have been educating to prevent. We cannot hide this from the others, we cannot change its reality. A young life imprisoned and our access to his health and hope for this time is gone. Nausea grips me as I am unable to speak or respond to the news. My mama heart is torn to pieces as I think back to the last hug I received, the last smile I savored.
After a time of contemplation and another conversation with Patchouko I realize this is the unwelcome proof of need. You see, the population we serve through Accolade for Saving Lives programming is extremely vulnerable, extremely at risk. Patchouko knows it full well – after all, what was it that he discussed with their parents prior to forming the organization? They knew, without intervention and parental engagement these boys could ultimately be dead or in jail. He asked for help, their active engagement in the transformation of their sons and their families. He (and we) believed fully in their capacity to parent, to provide the love and structure that God had called them to as parents. In August of 2016 Patchouko spoke in the attached video, his words even now ringing true .
Following more contemplation, much prayer and another conversation with Patchouko I realize that now the other boys see the reality that we all saw before – the ultimate destiny if you do not take seriously the opportunity being placed before you. Yes, it can, and yes it will happen to even you, to one of us. While a soul that we love deeply endures unimaginable circumstances behind bars, 25 more souls are keenly aware of the need for what Jesus has to offer. They are painfully aware of their vulnerability and the importance of what ASL is bringing them. Two meals a day and tuition for school? Absolutely – served up with a big side of love, a dollop of hope, discipline as needed and a whole lotta Jesus!!
This is real, boys. We’re not messing around. Never were and never will be. CLIMB and ASL are here to see you through. Jesus is our rock, our salvation and nothing can take that away. Sure, love hurts – sometimes it hurts real bad. We wouldn’t choose it any other way. We are blessed to be called in service to you.