I am amazed when I think that I have been on this journey here in Nicaragua for over 6 years. In that time I have had many opportunities to share love, hope and faith to numerous folks in dozens of different ways.
Again this musing is not to focus on me or accomplishments. They never are written with that intent. However, it is amazing what one can do when asked to do something and instead of saying, “I’m not sure how we would do that.” We choose to say, “Sure, let’s try it.”
That came full circle this past week in a way I never expected.
We’ll call him Victor. A guy who looks normal in every way, well dressed, nice haircut, a tight beard outlines his chin and jawline.
He is not in one of my classes. He does not go to any of the church services, The only way I recognized him was that he drops his son off at the new facilities we are working out of in one of the barrios. Even that he has only done once or twice in the past year. But the other day he showed up at my door.
As I have said before, my house is pretty much my sanctuary. Almost every meeting I have or class I try help is in a place other than my home. There are of course exceptions, but I try and keep one place that I can relax and not have to be “on duty”. I am out on the streets daily with some sort of ministry, so it is not difficult.
But there he was, Victor, ringing my doorbell.
I didn’t recognize him at first, but he introduced himself. I invited him in, asked him if he wanted coffee or something else to drink. He politely refused. He said, “No this will only take a minute.”
Somewhat relieved, somewhat baffled, mostly curious, I asked how I could help him.
He was on his bicycle, so he had a backpack. He took the pack off and reached down into the satchel. He then pulled out a Bible. A paperback Bible. Worn, dog-eared, and weathered from what was obviously hours of reading. It was so beat up that the cover had been slightly torn. So much so that i didn’t recognize it.
It was one of the jail Bibles that I had given out years before. Before COVID, before my own illness, before the unfortunate events that stopped some of our mission groups. I found these Bibles when working with another missionary in the jail system. One of our partners who had visited us saw them and purchased a couple of dozen to give away over 4 years ago.
He said, “you don’t know me, do you?”
I had to reply, “no, not really”
He then proceeded to tell me that the young child he had delivered on occasion to class was really his grandson. I thought, “wow, he sure is holding up better than me”.
The story of the Bible goes further than that.
He said that his son (the father of my student) had died. He did not give me the details, but hinted that it was a result of some of his life choices.
I, of course, gave my condolences. He said that he didn’t want to make me sad, he wanted to encourage me.
I thought that was a strange way of starting if that were his intent.
Again, as so often happens when we jump to conclusions, I was wrong.
He told me that this Bible was one of the only possessions that his son treasured. He carried it with him to the end.
He then opened the back cover of the Bible and showed me a picture. It was of his son, who I did recognize, standing beside me, every part of him soaked after being baptized in jail, 5 years ago.
I teared a little. Stopped, went back into my room, and brought out my copy of the picture. As you know, in this digital age we don’t have many prints of photographs laying around. Only the important ones. Or perhaps they are old ones. But because of an intern for one of the other missionaries who was also a photographer, I happened to have an actual print of that one.
We shared a moment, the grandpa and I. He then looked at me and said, “Thank you”. I said, “your welcome and I wished that we could do more in the jail system”. He corrected me. He said, “no, thank you for teaching my grandson”. It has been difficult for him and his sisters. He has to work all the time and the few hours a week I spend with the boy are priceless to him.
I found one of the Bible’s. One I use for personal reading. Because it is in Spanish, it also helps me with my language learning, which after 6 years is still a constant goal.
The cover says, “Libre entre rejas”. Which means “Free between bars”.
All of us have encountered bars, chains, and walls in our life that want to imprison us. But the good news is that we can have freedom between those bars. The good news is that a man’s legacy is now longer than the 30 years he lived. It is greater than the bars that imprisoned him. It will be longer than his short existence. While, I am sure that there are a lot of things that the grandfather does not want the grandson to learn from his father, there is one idea that will live eternally. Hope.
That hope is epitomized in the heart of a grandfather, who lost his son, and doesn’t want to lose his grandson. We are doing eternal work here, together. Generational work the results of which we may never see in our lifetime.
That’s what we are doing together here. Giving hope, in love, through our faith.
You share in the task and I am grateful that you do. Thank you for your continued encouragement and underpinning as we reach generations with our message of hope.
The pictures today show one of the classes Victor’s grandson attends and my copy of the Bible we gave away.
Dios los bendiga