What would happen if you took a group of homeless, drug addicted street kids and believed in them? Four years ago I did just that. I adopted a community of 17 kids living on the streets of Mexico City; all were addicted to inhalants. Unfortunately, three of the original 17 died. But for the rest, the future is promising. I’m not declaring total victory because it’s common for kids to relapse. But as of right now, none of the 14 kids in that original street community are on drugs.
My work with this community of street kids started four years ago in a corporate office building overlooking Mexico City. The owner of the largest cell phone company in Mexico was working with me on a project to distribute the audio Bible through cell phones. Before the meeting started, a lady attending the meeting shared with us the story behind a community of street kids she had befriended. She asked if I would start working with them. Several days later I met the group and instantly committed myself to a new project.
Over the years, I’ve visited the kids on weekends. My goal has been to see Christ transform their lives through the hope that springs up when we love those who are discarded. I’ve worked to offer them encouragement while providing for their basic food and clothing needs. My team and I were able to give them the Faith Comes by Hearing audio Bible; they listened nonstop day and night. It did not take long for many of the kids to give their lives to Christ, but they still remained drug addicted.
I was shocked when the one of the kids died, shortly followed by another. Both were young and strong. Both were addicted to inhalants. I was with the 3rd kid when he died. The ambulance came but the workers refused to take him in because he was a dirty, drug addicted street kid. The medic asked me, “What good would it do?” He continued, “We could save his life today, but he would just be back on the street tomorrow.” Aaron was the young man’s name. Aaron died on the street 10 minutes after the ambulance left; he died from being weakened due to the dehydration caused by a virus. Hospitalization and an IV would have saved his life.
Aaron never had shared any family details with me so there was no one I could contact about his death. I wanted Aaron to have a proper funeral and burial. I claimed Aaron’s body, but because I’m a non-family member it took nine days of maneuvering through the Mexican legal system, involving the Attorney General and the office of the President of Mexico, as well as an article in the largest daily newspaper before Aaron’s body was released to me, and his friends and I could honor him in death.
I knew that something had to change. If it didn’t, the entire group of street kids I had adopted would die. I started treating these kids not as a project, but as friends. My staff and mission teams who came to work with me changed approaches too. Valued friendships were founded with the kids and we took them all around the city with us as we stepped into the lives of others. They became an important part of our lives, not a scheduled project. They were changed because of that. I believe that lives change when one person believes in someone else. I have always believed that transformation can take place even among street kids whom the world has labeled as worthless. It didn’t take long to find out the impact of believing.
First, one of the remaining 14 responded to encouragement, then the next. Over the past two years, one by one each has gone for treatment. Four guys held out a long time against the hope and encouragement that God was able to offer them through our friendship. But the love of Jesus won out. During the past week those last four guys, who told me over and over that they had no interest in changing their lives, responded. I was privileged to take them to a rehab center for a 56 day program. A circle of their friends, many previous street, drug addicted, kids came along as support. Today all of them are inhalant free. We continue to support the last four through visits and sponsorship as they seek freedom from addiction and find hope in Jesus.
If street kids in Mexico City, those who the world sees as hopeless or valueless, will respond when someone intentionally and consistently believes in them, just image the possibilities that lay around each one of us..