Saturday, February 08, 2014

My First Visit to MEFI

I recently had the opportunity to visit MEFI, our ministry to the street "kids", for the first time. We use the term "kids" lightly, as most of them are 19 or older. It was overwhelming despite the fact that there were only four individuals there that day. It was overwhelming despite the fact that I could understand more of the Spanish than I'd originally feared I'd be able to. It was overwhelming even though the youth were very welcoming of me--one young man even asking me so many questions that I felt like I was on a talk show being interviewed.

It was overwhelming to recognize that probably the vast majority of those who come to MEFI are either addicted to--or have at one time at least sampled drugs. It's fairly easy to determine which of the youth are the hard-core addicts. The drugs have affected their speech, their physical appearance, even the way they walk. Many of them look far older than someone in their early-to-mid 20s. I met one young woman who couldn't even remember what she'd talked about not two minutes before. I told her my name at least three times--a name that should've been familiar to her, as it was her own as well.

It was overwhelming to learn that most of these young people have left their homes and families because of horrible abuses perpetrated by those who are supposed to care about them the most, many of them living on the streets from the time they are young adolescents.

It was overwhelming to realize that many of them have been forced to sell their own bodies in exchange for basic necessities. Like food or shelter--things most of us take for granted.

These young people have experienced atrocities that I will never know or understand. They've endured life at its utter worst. They know cold. They know hunger. The concepts of safety and well-being are as foreign to them as the concepts of hunger and danger are to me.

For that, I was overwhelmed and moved to tears.

God has burdened my heart for those most at risk of being exploited through human trafficking. These kids all fall under that at-risk category, for who would care if something happened to them? Their families who abused and turned their backs on them? The government, in a city of 30,000,000 people?


However, there are a handful of faithful workers who week in and week out, amply demonstrate to these kids just how special they are. How loved. How cherished. That their lives--as difficult as they've been--matter. That, as the prophet Jeremiah reminds us in Jeremiah 29:11, God has a purpose and a plan for them. A plan to prosper and not to harm them.

It is my privilege and my joy to join their ranks in sharing this message with the street youth.