Chad walked along a dusty road littered with garbage. He stopped at a dead end, where an animated group of children were kicking around a football. They caught him staring, and Chad took the opportunity to call the kids to his side.
“Hey! I have something for you!”
The kids came running and listened closely as Chad shared the love of Jesus with them. Each child received a Chispa magazine and skipped away, eagerly flipping through the colourful pages. As one of the boys left, Chad noticed the child intentionally veering around a group of older teens and young men gathered around a park bench. It was obvious the child feared the group.
Curiosity got the best of him and Chad felt compelled to walk toward the gathering. The moment he approached, one of the young men ran off, leaving eleven others standing in an intimidating throng. A foul stench, like tobacco and dried sweat, grew stronger as he drew near. Noticing their torn muscle shirts and bloodshot eyes, Chad suddenly wondered if he was compromising his safety.
Yet, just as boldly as he had shared with the younger children moments before, Chad began to talk about Jesus—his Saviour, his Redeemer, his friend. After he explained that Jesus wanted to be a friend to each of them also, one of the men, who seemed to be the gang leader, leaned forward and launched into a series of spiritual questions. Chad’s thoughtful answers triggered the man, causing him to open up about heavy addiction and deep emotional sorrow.
Chad stood in amazement as the man, called Juan, explained how alcohol and drugs had ruined almost every relationship in his life. The two younger men standing adjacent to Juan lowered their heads and shielded their faces to hide the tears welling up in their eyes. Soon after, they too made themselves vulnerable, exposing their own personal traumas. Following a discussion about addiction, pain, and the redemption of Jesus Christ, the men urged Chad to pray with them.
And as the group repeated Chad’s emphatic “amen,” all eleven were eager to give their lives to the Lord. Each one committed his heart to Jesus!
Chad shook the hands of his new brothers in Christ, finally embracing Juan last. He shifted toward the littered dirt road, but Juan clutched his palm, forcing him to turn back.
“Wait!” Juan whispered anxiously. “I want you to remember me, and this moment. Please take my cross necklace, amigo.” Chad could tell Juan’s necklace held significance. He thanked his new friend but humbly refused the gift.
“Let me exchange it for the one you’re wearing then,” Juan insisted. “So we’ll always remember each other.”
Tears fogging his vision, Chad fumbled to unhook the chain around his neck. He reached out and gently folded Juan’s fingers around the pendant. The two departed, each proudly wearing a momentous reminder of what their Saviour had done that day.