Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Family Restored

Three years ago, I sat in the yard pictured above with a very sad little Luis as we listened to his father speak horrible things about him.  He went on and on about how this boy no longer exists as far as he is concerned.  I fought back tears as we listened to him.

Today, 3 years later, this same father came to my home...he sought us out.  And he spoke very differently about his son.  Today, he shared how both he and other family members see a difference in Luis.  He declared that Luis is his family and will always have a place in their home.   And he recognized that this change is because of the investment Masana has made in Luis' life.

He will turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the hearts of children towards their fathers.  Malachi 4:6

Another family has been restored.  We thank God for allowing us to be a part of this restoration work.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

An Honest Living

The traffic lights around our city often have little boys begging.  They wait for the light to turn red so that they can place one hand on their stomach and stick out their other hand to the driver of the car that has stopped.  Too often, the drivers of these cars believe the lie of hunger and give the little boys money that will later be spent on candy or a radio or, unfortunately, drugs and alcohol.  A life of begging to have a little money in the pocket.

Older boys walk around the city looking for a car that is parked in a way that would make it easy to steal parts without drawing attention...mirrors, headlights, grills.  If it can be easily pooped off of your car, it's fare game.  Then its off to the black market to sale their stolen goods.  A life of crime to have a little money in the pocket.

At Masana, we work with boys to get them ready to leave behind street life and return to their families.  Once home, the boys often miss the feeling of having money in their pocket...the money that was made easily, though dishonestly, on the streets.  In recent years we've begun to realize that we have to provide these boys with means of making an honest living to prevent them from returning to the streets to make money.

Our first go at this was Armadura Gym which opened in 2013.  The gym serves as income generator for Masana and provides jobs for boys who have made the choice to leave the streets and return home.  There are currently 5 boys participating in an internship that has gotten them off the streets and into a home and full time employment.

This year we were given some funds for vocational training courses.  We have chosen some boys who have already left the streets and returned to their families.  Each one has chosen a course that interested him.  We now have 2 certified electricians, 1 certified videographer and 1 certified seamster who are all completing internships!  We've just begun a second round of vocational courses in which 3 boys are taking an electrician course and one is taking an auto mechanics course.

In a world where it is so easy to beg and steal, we are so proud of these boys who are making steps towards an honest living!

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; Establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands.  Psalm 90:17

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Not My Story to Tell

This is Luis.  He has lived on the streets of Maputo for too many years.  I've started to type his story 4 or 5 times but keep hitting's just not my story to tell.   Luis' story is one of suffering.  He's endured far more than any 16 year old should have endured.  But when I look at photos of him with Melina and Maya, all I see is joy.

He's had a hard life but he hasn't been hardened by it.

Luis is finally close to leaving the streets behind.  Because of some health issues, he's been living with us here at Masana for the past 6 or 7 weeks.  At first we were searching for alternatives for him in terms of where he could live...a children's center or perhaps the home Roberto and I have built for some other former street boys, or maybe with an extended family member or a foster family.  But in the end, we have decided the best place for him is with his mother, step-father and 2 small sisters.  He's spent weekends with them for the past month and now is there for a week.  If all goes well with this visit, we think he'll be ready to return home for good.

Would you pray for Luis?  Pray for him as he makes this transition from the streets back to his family.  Pray that he would stay this time...that he would never again return to the streets.  Pray for his health.  Pray that his family will be able to give him the care he needs.  Pray that he will know that he is loved....not only by his actual family but by his family here at Masana and, most importantly, by his Father in heaven.  He is loved.

God sets the lonely in family.
Psalm 68:6

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Always Give Yourselves Fully

I've found myself disheartened lately....tired of pouring myself out for boys who don't seem to want our help.

In June, a boy who lived with us for almost a month was set to return to his family who lives about 6 hours north of the city.  The night before we were to leave, he stole money from our house and disappeared.  To this day, we don't know where he is.

A young boy who is very sick has been living with us for 2 months now.  Last week he left for his daily trip to the health center for medication and never came back.  Roberto and I spent 2 days searching for him before we found him and brought him back to Masana.  When we questioned him about why he'd run away, all we got were blank stares.

Another young man was staying with us for the past 2 weeks because he'd been hit by a car.  He decided he didn't want to stay in the hospital after his accident so he paid a taxi to drop him off outside of Masana.  When we returned from church 2 Sunday's ago, there he was on the sidewalk outside of our home with a cast on both his arm and his leg.  Roberto and the boys who live here with us had to carry this young man around for 2 the bathroom, to his bedroom, to the living room.  He was completely dependent on us.  After a few talks, he agreed to go to his grandmothers house which is 3 hours north of the city.  The night before we were to take him home, he disappeared.

You see how easy it is to feel disheartened?  We give so much of ourselves.  Roberto has spent countless hours at the hospital with these boys.  We've opened our home to them.  We've given them clothes and food.  Yet it seems to be in vain.  They run away despite all we've done for them.

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."  1 Corinthians 15:58

This morning I skipped church and stayed home alone.  I needed time to process through these disappointments.  And this is the verse God has put on my heart.

Stand firm.

Let nothing move you.

ALWAYS give yourselves fully.

Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

ALWAYS give yourselves fully.  ALWAYS....that's the calling Roberto and I have accepted as we pour ourselves out day after day here at Masana.  Even when we find ourselves disappointed by the boys, we will choose to ALWAYS give ourselves fully.  And we will believe that our labor is not in vain.  We will believe that the Lord is planting seeds in the hearts of these boys...even the ones who run away from us.  And despite the disappointments, we will thank God that He uses us to pour out His love on these boys.  We will stand firm.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Journey of Masana

Please take a minute to watch this video that beautifully captures the ministry of Masana:


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Hope in the Suffering

Life on the streets is full of suffering.  These last few months, we have seen an increased number of boys showing up at our house all hours of the day or night in need of medical attention.  We had little Antonio who was hit by a car and couldn't walk.  There was Marcilino who was hit by a car and broke his arm.  We also had one other boy that was hit by a car and left with a severe sprain.  We've had 4 or 5 boys with urinary tract infections because of drinking contaminated water.  Alex was beaten over the head with a rock and needed stitches.  Antonio was beaten so badly in his face that his eyes were swollen shut for a week and he still doesn't have full vision back.  Another Antonio had a piece of iron go through his foot and developed a horrible infection.  Alfredo was badly burned on his leg when someone threw gas on the fire they were cooking on.  2 boys have tested HIV+.  

Most of these health issues are things that would never happen if the boys were living at home with their families and not on the streets.  Boys who run around the streets begging at stop lights, sometimes get hit by cars.  Boys who steal for a living get beaten up when they are caught.  Boys who dig through trash dumpsters without proper shoes, get injured by sharp objects.  Boys who live in an abandoned church with no running water, develop infections from contaminated water.  And maybe one of the harshest realities of street life:  boys who don't practice safe sex in a city where 12% of the population is HIV+, test positive.  

But God has placed Masana in the middle of this city to serve as a safe haven for these boys.  When no one else seems to care about them...we care.  When they ring the door bell at 2 o'clock in the morning, we will crawl out of bed to help them.  We will spend hours in hospital waiting rooms making sure they get the medical care they need.  We'll walk to the local pharmacy as often as needed to buy medicine for them.  And through all of the suffering that the boys endure, we will not stop praying that God use it to transform their lives....that this illness or this injury will finally be the tipping point that sends these boys back to their families.  We will find hope in the suffering.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

2 brothers and a Neighbor

This past week, a group of 3 new boys showed up at Masana.  One of them, Antonio, had been hit by a car over the weekend and could barely walk.  Abigail, our on-call doctor, checked him out and assured us the leg wasn't broken.  We took him to the hospital where they confirmed that it was just a bad sprain and wrapped up his entire leg so that he couldn't bend it.  He has been staying with us here at Masana ever since as we await his follow-up appointment on Monday.

Antonio, his brother, Armando, and a neighbor named Abilo all came to the city together about 2 weeks ago.  They came to try and find an uncle but weren't able to locate his house so they ended up on the street instead.  Their families are about 3 hours north of Maputo in a beach town called Xai-Xai.  Antonio is the oldest of the group with 11 years.  The other 2 are probably 9 or 10.

I wish I could say that Antonio, after suffering a car accident, is ready to go back home....but he's not.  None of them are.  Sadly, they are loving life on the street and how easily they make money begging. Numerous times, Armando and Abilo have come to Masana to drop off Fizz (a cheap soda) and cookies for their brother with the hurt leg.  They are living it up...carefree, no one to make them do anything.

It has been raining a lot for the past few hours and I find myself praying that this group of boys would realize that its not all fun and games here on the streets of Maputo.  I'm praying that they will feel the cold today as they walk the city in their wet clothes.  I'm praying that they will feel hunger pains as Masana is closed for the weekend.  I'm praying God will move in their hearts and their minds.  I'm praying for a desire to return home.