Monday, March 22, 2010

Being Gumby

There are a few of you out there that are old enough, like me, to remember Gumby.  He was this green rubbery toy with flexible wires inside that allowed you to bend him into any contorted form you wanted to.  I often call our son Michael "Gumby" when he does some completely unnatural thing with his arms or legs, like bringing his foot up behind him and touching it to his forehead.  It totally freaks me out, but other tween and teenage boys think it's really awesome. 

I think God wants all of us to be a spiritual Gumby, soft and flexible, allowing our "owner" to bend and shape us however He wants to.  I can not tell you how many times over the last 5 years I have felt the Lord leading me in a certain direction (one I did not want to go!) and I would stiffen and say "no, I won't do that."  No, I won't be a missionary.  No, I won't give up my business.  No, I won't have Kevin stay at our house.  No, I won't have knee surgery.  No, I won't move to Honduras unless I can build my own house first.  No, I won't home school my kids.  You get my point.

One of my "no's" was Marvincito.  If you've followed the Micah story for any length of time you are acquainted with Marvin.  He came to Micah 2 weeks before our first visit in 2007, along with Wilmer.  He is 15 years old (now), has never known his father, his mother left for Guatemala when he was a little boy.  He lived with an aunt for awhile, but she didn't really want him so he ended up getting swallowed up in life on the streets, numbing his emotional pain with a bottle of glue.  In the 2 1/2 years since he came to Micah he has gone back to the streets and the glue several times.  It doesn't seem with Marvin, though, to be so much the physical addiction to the glue but an intense spiritual battle raging within him.  He has seen the power of God and wants to follow him, but after years of emotional pain he has built so many high and thick walls around his heart that he is unable to accept that the staff at Micah really, truly, love and care for him.  He constantly tests the limits and boundaries of that love pushing those that love him the most the hardest and the farthest. 

When we arrived in November we found Marvin to be withdrawn yet angry and confrontational.  He had confrontations with the staff on many occasions and one incident just before Christmas resulted in him having to leave for 10 days over the holidays.  He came back in January but was still angry and argumentative.  After 6 tumultuous weeks he had a somewhat minor inicident with one of the staff.  Refusing to take the steps to resolve the situation he chose to leave Micah.  It had been explained to him several times that if he left, this was his last chance, but he chose to go anyway.  His 15 year old mind, however, didn't believe that this was the final straw and within a week he was back asking to come back into Micah.  When he showed up over an hour late for the staff meeting to determine if he would be allowed back or not, it was decided that he didn't want both the responsibility and the benefits of living at Micah and he was turned down.

He moved into a house in one of the worst, most drug infested neighborhoods in town and was soon huffing glue again and basically living in the streets.  He showed up at street kid soccer a couple of times with his usual angry defiance, demanding that he be given video games or other items that were left at Micah.  The hardness became more evident with each passing week.  He repeatedly showed up outside the doors of Micah and tried to manipulate his way in for this thing or that and, we believe, was instrumental in Hector leaving for the streets a couple of weeks back. 

All of the staff and many of you were praying that the Lord would break Marvin, to bring him to the absolute end of himself.  But, I am ashamed to admit, that even as I prayed this way I had given up on Marvin.  He was a lost cause and the point of blame for many of the others problems. 

There is a fine line between grace and enablement in ministry.  When you have 12 teenage boys with a variety of problems living in one house, when and how do you decide that the issues arrising from one of them outweigh any potential benefit for that person or any others?  We've only been here 4 months, I certainly don't have the answer to that question.

Last Friday Brian James was sick so I made the food for Nightstrike and planned to just drop it off and come back home.  When I arrived at the soccer field, Marvin was there clinging to Becca.  There was no anger or defiance left in him, he was just a broken little boy.  He sobbed uncontrollably, lamenting about the choices he made and the effect they would have on his life.  Becca was heartbroken, after pouring so much of herself into him for the past 3 years and now not being able to do anything to help him.  She said we would try and find a family outside of the city for him to live with.  He would have left immediately but she explained the family didn't exist yet, we had to find one.  Brian was distressed as he tried to comfort Marvin, also knowing there was nothing that could be done to help him.  I was saddened to see him crushed and desperate, knowing all of the opportunities that had been placed before him and were now lost. 

As  I drove home I prayed again for Marvin and was overcome with a sense of urgency and dread for him.  Saturday had me at home doing my usual tasks and Brian in town with a team that arrived from St. Louis.  Sometime during the afternoon I felt the Lord asking me to bring Marvin home that day.  "Uh, no, no, I won't do that", I responded and pushed the thought out of my head everytime it came.  The boys and I went into town about 5:00 for the welcome dinner for the team.  Brian pulled me aside a short time later and asked how I felt about bringing Marvin home for awhile.  "What?  Are you crazy?  Why would you do a thing like that?"  I shouted.  He then told me that several times during the day he felt the Lord asking him to bring Marvin home and as much as he tried to push the thought out of his head, it wouldn't go away.  

Arrrrgggghhhh!!!  We talked with Michael, who had then entire group pray for guidance.  I went to the terrace and prayed some more, crying "why do you keep asking me to do things I don't want to do?"  Why?  Because I am the one that needs to be continually broken.  I am the one that needs to be shaped and molded into the person God intends me to be.  I am the one that is the lump of clay in the potters hands.  It isn't about what I want to do, it's about what He wants to do through me.  

When I came back down from the terrace John, Becca, Brian, and I talked briefly and decided that if they could find Marvin they would bring him to our house if he would come.  They did find him, not in the usual spot, but waiting at a gas station on Boulevard Morozan.  The attendant was surprised when the 3 gringos got out of the car and walked over to Marvin.  He said Marvin had been there for about 2 hours and had been telling him that North Americans were going to come for him and this was his last night on the street.  The attendant had not believed him, of course, but here they were.  Brian simply said "listo?" (ready).  Without a word Marvin got into the car and headed home.

So, without a plan B in sight here we are.  Marvin is staying in the room Hannah vacated just Friday morning.  He's come off the glue high and is very subdued and quiet.  He plays video games and basketball, talks with the boys, sleeps, and seems to be very unsure of himself.  I've never seen him look like such a little kid as I did last night at dinner, a frightened little boy trying to be big. 

John and Becca came by yesterday and we talked with him.  Micah is most likely not an option for him, and it shouldn't be his motivation.  His motivation needs to be to do whatever he has to to be healthy and alive.  We told him that we will take things one day at a time and pray for God's guidance, that he may have the option to live here and be part of our family. 

When Brian told me yesterday that an e-mail had been sent out to many people asking for prayer and a possible home for Marvin, I was surprised at the reaction inside of me.  I didn't like the thought of him going to live with anyone else.  And then I thought "what's up with that?  Why don't I like it?"  So I'm trying to be Gumby like.  I put my hands in the air and cried "whatever you want Lord, lead on."


Tamara Wright said...

Dear Natasha,

It was special to see your faces in worship service yesterday morning! I continue to pray for your family and am always humbled and inspired by your transparency and challenging words. May God continue to meet you in the "dailies" of life as you chart your course by His compass.

Many blessings,
Tamara Wright

Laurie said...

Natasha, it's very hard to know what's best for you and for this precious young man: time will show the direction that God has for him and for you as a family. One person I greatly admire was a missionary's wife in El Salvador for 13 years. She is now 70, and she and her hubby are in ministry in Texas now. But she had one bio child, and they took in 4 other children over the years. The children really prospered although one still has her worried a bit. One is a doctor, one is an accountant, and one is a minister in the Assembies in El Salvador. She often said that the children that shared their homes and hearts were the best thing for their only bio child growing up. They were truly a family of God.

Anonymous said...

Natasha, Marvincito is one of my special friends there at Micah, and I have been so grieved by the events of the past few months. At his 6th grade graduation, he was so proud as was I! We can't give up on these precious souls. Our God is the God of miracles and transformation. Having just returned from South Africa in the township of Grabouw, I have seen murderers whose lives now exemplify Christ in their actions. I am SO grateful that you and Brian have taken in Marvincito. Our partners in Grabouw have adopted 10 kids from the township in addition to their biological kids , and they are amazing kids. I so admire your faithfulness to God, and I am praying for you all. I'm also praying back the hold of Satan on Marvin. When that stronghold is broken, I believe God has amazing things in store for him.


Mary Floye Federer

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