(The following are the confessions of a real wretch.)
I am a menace and a bearer of misfortune. That is how my parents branded me. I was six years old at that time. They told me to look after my baby sister while my father worked and my mother went into town to purchase some groceries. But I preferred to play with my soccer ball. So I was unaware that my sister had pulled the blanket over her head. She died instantly from suffocation. I was held responsible for her demise. My parents hated me so they put me up for adoption. I never heard from them again.
My reputation was bad news at the orphanage. Of course I had to live up to my status as a little bully who was full of animosity. I organized a gang of rascals. We instructed ourselves the art of harassing, cheating, and stealing. I was particularly skillful in telling lies and in playing the blame game. Definitely, I was elated by my notoriety, believing that everyone was admiring my cleverness. It gave me a sense of achievement which was quite flattering.
Remarkably, at the age of 10, and despite my being a big time troublemaker, a family adopted me. The couple were passionate missionaries. They were well aware that I was capable of making their lives miserable. Nevertheless, they chose me. I was neither happy nor thankful because I never visualized myself living with preachers. It was even more disconcerting when they brought me with them on a mission trip to Africa. I thought it was just for a week. Tough luck! We stayed there for eight long years.
Africa, for me, was just a jungle of wild animals and dark people. It developed me into the worst rebel I had ever been. I blossomed into a compulsive drug user and drug pusher, trafficking cocaine especially to minors. Another feather on my cap was my adeptness in ruining the lives of those innocent children.
However, my shining moment was when I heartlessly committed a brutal murder. He was a 62-year-old wealthy black businessman. I needed money to purchase more illegal goods. Because he refused to yield, I slit his throat with my razor-sharp dagger. It was very fast and very easy. Since I was only 16, I was tried in juvenile court and released to the custody of my adoptive parents. All the same, I remained remorseless.
In the meantime, my missionary parents were clearly dejected by the way I was conducting my life. Amazingly, they never lectured me about Jesus or the Bible. Perhaps they realized that I would be repelled by a God-sermon. Instead, they showed me patience and unconditional love, with the assurance that they were always there for me. Not even once did they ever label be as a hopeless wretch.
One bright day, we went to a far away town to visit the natives. What I witnessed was mind boggling. I saw grinding poverty beyond human dignity. The villagers were just skin and bones, crawling so weakly like snakes toward the soup kitchen. Their lands were barren. Their houses were made from mud mixed with animal waste. Yet, I was struck by their faces beaming with serenity. I could not figure out where their contentment was coming from. They had absolutely nothing. What was there to be joyful about?
Then a little girl caught my attention. Her eyes seemed to be that of my baby sister's. She was painfully skinny but she had a certain glow which I could not define. I suddenly felt a very warm air embracing my entire being. My body started to shake. I collapsed to my knees crying in repentance. I sensed my mother's hand upon my head. My father had his hands stretched out in prayer. Everyone around me was worshiping. For the first time in my life, I discovered real peace and true love. I saw the face of Jesus in the hearts of these poor, famished people. I knew He had healed me.
I was a lost son found by Jesus. Praise God for my adoptive parents. They taught me the Truth by their actions.
That was only the beginning.
Today, I am His deliverer of Good News in beautiful Africa. Indeed, with Jesus, there is hope every second, every day.
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. ~ 1 John 3:18