Some of you may remember my writing about Emilio over half a year ago. When he was here last, I couldn’t talk with him because my Spanish was too poor. It’s still not great, but we could converse.
He has been talking with me via WhatsApp for several weeks. His girlfriend had the Covid virus, and they were afraid she would die. She was deathly sick for weeks, but she’s now recovering.
She has other ongoing health problems, including lupus. Currently, they are in financial straits because she has been unable to work, and his salary is not enough. They did not have enough to cover her medications this month.
He asked if there were any Christians in the States who could help him. I told him it’s not quite that straightforward. But I offered to help him this month.
But first, I wanted to have a visit with him. He had formerly been a faithful believer. But for nearly five years now, he has walked away from God. I asked him to tell me why. He came today and spent hours talking and crying.
He shared a sad story that began back when and carried on through a series of unfortunate events since. But he said the first step in that path was when he realized he wasn’t good enough for our faith. He realized he could never be on the same level as we are, so he gave up trying at all.
There is a definite caste system here in Peru, though not as formally organized as in some countries. But everyone knows their place. Emilio is in one of the lowest levels socially. He thought he could be on equal ground with other believers despite that, but came to feel that he was less than others, even in the church.
Of course, that’s not the way God feels about it. There’s no such thing as levels or favorites with God. We’re all good enough for Him in Jesus. We’re all equally as bad outside of that saving grace.
We talked about that and about letting go of the hurts of the past and so on. I told him that people will disappoint and hurt us, but God is always faithful.
He says he knows that’s true because while he has tried to walk away from God to escape the pain and disappointment he found in people, God has been pursuing him all these years. He says he knows God wants him to come back.
Past pains have a way of growing and changing from the reality they began in, blinding and poisoning a person’s future. I don’t know the facts of any of Emilio’s stories, but I can see the broken person he has become because of it all.
Emilio’s is a common story. One where a person puts their hope and trust in people, and when that trust is broken, they connect it automatically with their hope in God or value before Him. How many people do you know who have left the church because of the people in it?
Somehow, we believers have to simultaneously show others that they are to keep their eyes on Jesus while we also reveal Jesus to them by our lives. But we are human and fail. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit can work in other’s hearts despite our shortcomings.
So pray to that end. Pray that Emilio can surrender his heart to the Spirit’s call once more and find freedom in forgiving the pains of the past. Pray that he can find again the power to live above sin through new life in Jesus. And pray that he finds peace in knowing he is loved completely by God.
And pray wisdom for me to be a friend to him on his way back to God.