In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus talks to the Pharisees about the Kingdom of God. To explain and illustrate the Kingdom he tells them the story of Lazarus, a beggar. In other parts of the scripture Jesus explains the last shall be first and first last in the Kingdom of God. Honestly, His words and ideas on His Kingdom are often a mystery to me.
We recently had the opportunity to celebrate with our friend, Antonio. 5 years, Antonio participated in the Casa Gabriel training ministry for about a year and a half. He left, completed his 2 years of military service and started working in the bus transportation system. When he was in Quito he would call or come over for a quick visit. In the last 2 years he has been sharing about a girl he hoped to marry and his desire for us to celebrate with him. Well, the day came and the CG family, as well as Mauricio, traveled to the wedding. Mauricio, also a former street boy, was a friend to Antonio on the streets when Antonio was 10 years old. He looked out for him, as Antonio was small and could not defend himself from older and bigger boys. It was Mauricio who originally advocated for Antonio to join CG.
The wedding celebration, in a town in the coastal area called El Carmen, was fun, but the greatest joy was to be present for a friend at an important event in his life. Apart from his mother and aunt, Antonio had no other family to help him celebrate this life choice of marriage. There were many meaningful moments, and plenty of funny, even awkward ones, but all worth it.
However, on the way home, something happened that impacted me in a deep way as I witnessed the application of Jesusâ€™ words on the Kingdom of God. Do we really know what is meant by the last shall be first and the first last? Really? Then why doesnâ€™t this change the way I live more often? Jesus uses the story of Lazarus, a beggar at a rich manâ€™s door as an example. A beggar who was sick and the dogs licked his sores.
In Ecuador it is common to see beggars of all kinds. There are those with evident physical issues, the impoverished, the drugged out, the genuine and the manipulative. When driving through small towns in Ecuador, you notice beggars often situated at key places where traffic must slow down. This gives them the opportunity to ask for â€œalmsâ€.
On the return drive to Quito, slowing down at a speed bump, I noticed a man with no legs speaking. I could not hear him through my closed window in my air-conditioned car. I paused, grabbed some change, opened my door and gave it to him and with a smile, saying, â€œGod bless you.â€ All before the car behind me started to honk its horn. Shutting the door I gave the car some gas. Mauricio suddenly shouted from the backseat, â€œI know that man, I canâ€™t believe he is still alive!â€ Mauricio explained; â€œWhen I was on the street in St. Domingo and no one would give me food, he would. He kept me alive. Without him, I think I would have starved to deathâ€. He elaborated that people would give the man more than he could eat so he would share with others. Mauricio kept mumbling to himself how he recognized him right away when I opened the door and how he couldnâ€™t believe he was still alive after all these years.
Sometimes I think I am an important missionary, must be important to God and at least to other people who are impressed by what I do with the boys of Casa Gabriel. I wonder how many other street boys this beggar, this man with no legs in the hot sun along a dusty busy road looking up into the windows of cars bumping pastâ€¦I wonder how many other street boys he has helped. No newsletters, no mission name, no team, no car, no computerâ€¦ just a simple life with a heart of compassion for those around him in need.
Last night I read Luke 16 with fresh eyes. Humbled by the words of Jesus about the Kingdom of Godâ€¦ I fell asleep in my warm comfortable bed contemplating which side of the chasm I will find myselfâ€¦ and thanking God for the opportunity to witness the grace of God being poured out through His people, whether they be missionary, young married couple, former street boy, or even a beggar. â€œBlessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.â€ Matthew 5:3
Phil Douce and The Casa Gabriel Team
After the wedding: Antonio (being goofy) and his new bride, with Phil, Tully, Sonnet, and three of the boys.
Prayer Request and Praises
:: Pray for the boys who are visiting family during summer break.
:: Pray that God would provide a new Academic Coordinator to fill the shoes of Amparo, who retires in a month.
:: Praise for opportunities to continue encouraging, and be encouraged by, the boys who have left Casa Gabriel.
:: Praise for God's continual grace and guidance
We are putting the word out about two exciting new projects: Home Renovation Phase 2 and our Vocational Training Program. Interested in putting together a team through your church and/or donating funds to help with these projects? Check out our Current Projects webpage for full details, and of course contact us with any questions. We are always so thankful for the prayers and support which make this ministry possible.
Mision Mundo Juvenil Internacional
Attn: Casa Gabriel
Pablo Herrera OE4-105PB Alvarez Del Corro
(DetrÃ¡s de Teleamazonas (Canal 4))