You’ve seen the pictures of the boys’ smiling faces at the project with their big plates of delicious food Elsa makes for them every day. You’ve heard their laughs and jokes through the videos we’ve posted.
But what are their lives like outside of the project- their “real world”?
I invite you to get a tiny glimpse. (Please note that because some of these stories share personal details, I have changed the names out of respect for what the boys have told us in confidence).
As a baby, Franklin was abandoned and left with extended family who didn’t want him and was forced to raise himself on the streets in order to survive. Franklin is currently in a drug rehabilitation center six hours away from anyone he knows learning about the transformational reality of the Gospel and experiencing how God’s love redeems and restores.
Jorge left his home to escape torture and abuse from both his mother and stepfather. In the streets, he was taken advantage of and used as a drug mule- one who transports drugs from the dealer to the buyer. Last year, Jorge was stabbed 35 times and left for dead. While at the hospital, the Lord saved his physical body and soul from the grave. He was thankful and enjoyed sharing about the fierce love of Jesus with others. A few weeks ago, he once again chose the streets. He’s very skinny and is working as a drug mule and sleeping on the stairs of a strip club.
Kendrik grew up watching his little siblings be sexually abused. Doctors are fairly certain he was sexually abused as a child too. Because of this, he struggles with rage on a deep level. His outbursts have often brought regret and pain to both him and others. Last year, Kendrik gave his life to Christ and has been growing so much. He encourages us in so many ways. Kendrik doesn’t have any kind of example in his daily life outside of the project of how to live out what he believes. He is currently in an adulterous relationship with a girl several years older than him who has been married 4 years. She’s asking to live with him, and Kendrik’s “mother” said she thinks it would be a great idea. Kendrik is 14.
Carlos grew up in a home where sexual abuse was normal. As soon as he was old enough, he hit the streets and stays away from the “house” as much as possible. We don’t know where he goes when he doesn’t come to the project, but we do know that over the past year, Carlos has learned how to protect his heart. Sometimes we still get to see glimpses of his precious heart, but we see more and more of the coldness he’s learned to live out of. After all the pain he’s experienced, it’s no wonder he realized he just couldn’t let himself feel anymore.
Cristian’s Dad died in prison just before he was born. His Mom has had 2 other husbands since then. His current step-father is in jail. The family doesn’t have money for food, and in Honduras, family members must also feed relatives in prison. Cristian works hard each week before coming the project then going to night school. Every day he uses his own money to buy food for his step-father and takes it to him on his bike. The Peter Project sends food home for Cristian and his family.
Often, Marlon’s only meal each day is what he eats at the project. He comes up to my waist, yet stays out working until late hours of the night trying to beg for money so he can have something to eat. At 9 years old, he says he’s so used to the street life that he doesn’t think he would ever be able to fit in at a home even if the Lord provides us with one.
Alfredo and little Darmin’s mother is a drug addict. She sends her two boys out every day to beg for money in order to feed her habit. If the boys don’t come home with enough money, they get in trouble. Alfredo often gives Darwin the money he’s been given to protect his little brother from any anger or abuse once they arrive back “home” late into the night. Darwin often comes to the project without his older brother because Alfredo stays in the streets begging so they will have a place to sleep that night.
It’s too much. I could keep going. I could give you more details, but maybe you can get a glimpse of the weight that comes along with this job. It is a blessing and privilege that amazes me- that the Lord would allow me of all people to be a part of these boys’ lives, but with it comes a burden that I cannot bare. I’m so thankful He provides.
Lord, I cannot sleep tonight. I want them to be safe and understand how perfectly and wonderfully made they are because they’re all made in Your image. I want them to have hope. I don’t want them to join a gang, but I understand why this will be an even greater temptation as they grow up. They just want to belong and be accepted. I don’t want them to turn to drugs, but oh how I understand how they want to escape from the pain of abandonment and abuse and hunger. I want them to understand your purpose for sex, but they’ve been robbed of their childhoods, and I understand how they long to be held and feel intimate with someone. I understand how they can so easily justify having sex on their own terms since their virginity was stolen from most of them at an early age. I can’t protect them. I can’t be in the streets with them, but You are with them. God, reach them in their dreams tonight. Hold them so gently but with the fiercest of love. Be so gracious with them as You beckon them to redemption and restoration made possible by Your precious Son’s sacrifice.