“Please Jesus, help us love these kids”, is the prayer I not so silently breathed halfway through our last lesson today.
We were in a small fishing village on the coast of Ecuador. Unemployment is high. Abuse is commonplace. Devil worship is normal. Training is almost non-existent. Genuine love is rare. But this is where God has placed our team this week. We worked here last year, so it wasn’t a shock when we drove through the depressed streets. Run down houses dot the landscape and kids run the streets.
There’s 24 of us and at least 200 of them. Some moments it’s just overwhelming. As soon as you get one kid to sit down and be quiet, another one runs away. There are times when it feels like our team is shouting into a void and nobody is listening. It’s easy to wonder if anything we’re saying is getting through to these kids.
I boarded the bus after the program and thought about how in two short days our time with these kids would be over. I know that when we pull away on Friday there will be tears streaming from my face and I will wish for just a few more hours. Because despite the rambunctiousness, despite the noise, and even just straight up bad behavior, these kids are sponges in desperate need of unconditional love.
As we drove back to our hotel tonight, the sun set over the ocean. I was reminded that as long as God is in the business of painting sunsets, He is in the business of changing lives. I know it is the prayer of this team that He will move mightily in this town where we will leave parts of our hearts.