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Aaron Smith, Servant Partners staff in Manila has written a book Living in the Neighborhood on developing a sustainable incarnational ministry among the urban poor.
"If we can teach students to truly love to read, the rest will fall into place." My neighbor and good friend posted this quote on my FaceBook page recently. She is a wonderful mother of three who grew up in California in a severely dysfunctional family. Yet from a young age she was determined to have a better life than her parents, and somehow she knew that education was crucial in order for that to happen.
A few months ago, I began getting to know a family out in a community a few kilometers outside of Managua. I came to know this couple, Erica and Eliazar, as his health was failing due to advanced kidney disease. I was able to spend some time in their home, pray with them, and extend some financial help for medical expenses. Not long after, Eliazar died, and I went to the wake that night. There had been previously scheduled that night a big evangelistic outreach on the streets of this small community, and Erica asked that it be moved to the street outside her home, as a reminder of God's hope and Truth in the midst of the night of their grief. It is difficult to put words to this experience for me: Eliazar was only 28 years old. He left behind his wife and child. His coffin barely fit into his home at the wake; it was a simple pine box set up on two chairs on the dirt floor of their perhaps 10 foot square home, its only separate "room" partitioned off by plastic sheeting. Yet in the midst of this grief, and seeming hopelessness, the family also joined in the worship and praise on the street outside their home.
I know that subject sounds strong, but I'm going to give a very short and to the point update about only this:
I found out that our good friend, Alfredo, who is part of my regular Thursday morning meetings with Bismarck, had a horrible motorcycle accident with a bus. He had two surgeries on his head/brain, and they wouldn't know for 10 days if he was going to survive or not, and if he did, whether he would have massive brain damage. The traffic here is so scary, but you see it often enough and start to imagine it's charmed and people somehow get away with it. But they don't. Alfredo has become one of my closest friends here, and he has a young wife and a two-year-old daughter.