Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Joaquin

Interesting days and unusual days. Life in Puerto Viejo is a series of contrasts. The amazing natural beauty is such a contrast to much of the ugliness that affects humanity as a result of sin. We live on one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, yet are constantly affected by the dark side of human nature in the form of theft, typically to fuel a drug habit. One day the Caribbean sky will be sunny and gorgeous and the next day all hell breaks loose and it gets cold, windy and rainy. The majority of the people are so loving and friendly that you almost forget the few that are constantly looking for a way to take advantage of us. We see God working while Satan does his best to shut down any and every work that God begins. This contrast and the battle behind the scenes that causes it was never more evident a couple of days ago when Ronnie and I had a conversation with a drug addict named Joaquin that I’ll never forget. We got to know Joaquin last summer during a time when we were hosting a variety of teams. Joaquin is one of the more interesting characters that I’ve met during the past year here in Puerto Viejo. He’s about 5’6” tall, wears some pretty outlandish clothing (especially for this culture) and has one of the craziest haircuts that I’ve ever seen. If there’s one thing about Joaquin that he pays attention to, it’s his hair. Talking with him is a trip. He speaks some English, a little island Patois and pretty good Spanish. Since my Spanish isn’t that great, a lot of our communication is non-verbal. When we are able to talk, he’s pretty hard to follow and the same conversation… sometimes the same sentence can go from Jesus to Star Trek to the best way to grow bananas. Joaquin is a trip. The whole town knows it. But there’s one thing about Joaquin…God loves him. A lot. I don’t think Joaquin knows this…yet. If he did, and if he really understood it, he wouldn’t want to live the way he does. Most days he just wanders from place to place, looking for enough wild fruit or coconuts so that he can eat a little and sell a little for his next drug fix. Joaquin has had a difficult 24 years and it shows in every line in his face.

A couple of days ago, as I was headed to the store to pick up some groceries, I say Joaquin sitting against our fence. He asked me for 500 colones which equates to about a dollar. I want to help him but I don’t want to give him fuel for his drug habit so I asked him if he would just like something to eat. Joaquin said yes, so I made him a sandwich and got him some fruit and a drink. I stayed out there with him just to hang out for a while and I began to get a very strong feeling that I needed to share with him, how much Jesus loved him and wanted to change his life. Because of the language barrier, I am pretty much limited to showing God’s love to Joaquin by spending time with him, having a meal with him or some other physical way to demonstrate God’s love. This time it was different. I really felt like Joaquin needed to hear about Jesus… how much Jesus loves him and how Jesus came to set him free. He needed to hear this in his own language. There was only one thing I could do, so I prayed. I asked God to send Ronnie, to help me translate and to share with Joaquin himself. Although having a prayer answered by God shouldn’t be amazing, I was still amazed at how quickly He answered my prayer. I don’t know why I ever doubt, but I never seem to put as much trust in God as He’s worth. Well, once again, God came through because He cares about people more than we ever could…even at our very best. Just a few minutes after asking God to send Ronnie, I looked up and saw him riding his bicycle down our road. It was like the sun had just burst through the clouds on a rainy day. Ronnie pulled up and started talking to us. He told me that God had just brought him to us. Cool stuff.

Anyway, as Ronnie and I shared (mostly Ronnie at this point), I could see that there was a fight going on in and around Joaquin. I prayed that God would clear up his mind and relieve him from the damage of the drugs, just long enough for the truth of Jesus to sink in. It was unreal…I could actually see waves of confusion and clarity going back and forth across Joaquin’s face. He would be clear and focused for a few minutes…listening and concentrating. And then…he would be back with Captain Kirk on the enterprise. We continued to talk and share. Joaquin was very interested but there was someone else that didn’t want Joaquin to be free. Three times Ronnie asked Joaquin if he would like to give his life to Christ…if he would like to be free and changed. Joaquin said that he wanted to be changed but each time, just as it looked like he might say yes, he said no. We had an opportunity to pray with him. He was very grateful and said that he would remember this special day. I believe he will. We’ll be praying for Joaquin and we hope you will be too. There’s a war going on and his soul is at stake. God loves Joaquin and I think he just might be starting to believe that he’s actually loveable. God brought us together with Joaquin for a reason. I don’t doubt that. I believe that God has special plans for Joaquin and I look forward to the day when Joaquin says “Yes” to Jesus.

2 comments:

Geppapa said...

great to read first hand whats happening! prayers for you and fam.

Bryon Mondok said...

great post, Barrett.