Let No One Despise Your Youth

by Jonni Sliver

Alex is 19 years old, a child of God for two years and a Bible school student for one year. He is one of our “Timothys”. He got saved while in a recuperation program, and this precious young man has an intense gratitude for the gift of salvation he has received and an overflowing joy. During his first year in the Bible school he was one of the students who asked if they could do evangelism in the local jail (they have shared with hundreds of prisoners and prayed with dozens).

Alex went home to Curitiba for his Christmas break, and he took with him a young man from Campo Mourao, a son of the Free Lutheran congregation here, who had started to get involved with drugs. Alex has been talking with him, sharing his own story, and trying to influence Nathan in a positive way, but Nathan was only listening with one ear, so Alex thought it might be interesting for Nathan to visit the recuperation house he had gone to. Nathan would hear every one of the young men there tell him how they began a life of addiction doing the same “innocent” things he was doing, playing the same dangerous games.

While Alex and Nathan were in Curitiba they met a teen-ager, Lucas, on the street. He was obviously drugged and he was scared because he had fought with some members of a gang and he thought they would hurt him while he was sleeping. Alex talked Lucas into going to Paul and Becky Abel’s house, where they spent the night. The next day, with his mind clearer, Lucas talked to Alex and to Paul for hours. He finally decided that they were right, that he had no future on the street, and that he needed to make a change in his life. Just days before Christmas, Becky went on a search for a recuperation house that had a place for Lucas, and after three days she found one! Lucas entered the program. Alex and Nathan enjoyed the holidays and Nathan returned the first week of January to Campo Mourao.

I would love to say that this is the end of the story – everyone blessed and growing in the Lord, but life isn’t a script that we write as we would like it to be. Two weeks after entering the program Lucas decided that he didn’t need to be told how to live his life. He left the recuperation house and two days later he was shot and killed (likely by the same people he had fought with weeks earlier).

As Alex told me the story his eyes filled with tears, but he ended the story with an affirmation – he wasn’t going to stop reaching out to anyone willing to be helped. Lucas may have given up, but Nathan had not! It blessed me to see his heart moved but his faith not shaken, and I am imagining the wonderful ways God will use him. It is so amazing to be allowed to be a part of the lives of these precious students!

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