La Lucha Para No Volver Atras

“The struggle to not give up”

June 2, 8:45 pm.  Church.  I went to a church service with some family members and one of the youth we work with, Carlos.  The pastor talked about Joshua and God’s word to him to, “Be strong and courageous”.  As he finished his talk, the pastor encouraged us all to dream big, to be courageous and to not give up.  He then invited people who have felt like throwing in the towel to step into the  aisle.  As music started and prayers surfaced, I saw Carlos step in the aisle, raise his hands up to God and begin weeping.  Tears flowed as he uttered words to God and let the presence of the Lord touch and speak to his hurting heart.  I joined Carlos, placed my hand on his shoulder and began to pray for him.  Immediately I was flooded with images of how much Carlos has struugled:  a hard family life; years of working on the streets to survive; his current “home” in the dormitory where people enter drunk and high each night; and his daily struggle to go school and get good grades as he dreams of entering college.  All struggles that wear him down and at times tempt him to give up.  But God was present and touched Carlos and he’s not giving up.

June 3, 8:45 am.  Central Park.  As I walk through central park the first people I see are Valentino and Reyes.  Valentino is sniffing glue, staring into space with glassy eyes.  Reyes is finishing a bottle of beer, maybe his first or perhaps his fourth.  Then I see Carlos, sitting on a chair, reading the paper with Julio with a huge grin on his face.  He is not giving up!  We walk to market together, share a fruit smoothie and I was given sacred space with Carlos to tell him how much I admire his life, all that he has come through and all that he has achieved.  I encourage him to not give up and to continue to dream and to be strong and courageous because God is with him.  Be strong and courageous Carlos!

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