A Confession from Hunter
Guest post by my one and only hubby, Hunter:
Henry was at church yesterday, and as soon as I saw him he hunched over in the corner trying to hide from me. Seeing him, I felt a restlessness inside of me. I sat a few rows in front of him and began to struggle with this feeling that I should say something to him. My whole being did not want to, but I knew I needed to.
Trying to shrug the feelings of discomfort off, I began to read the book that Jillian recently got me, “Finding God in the Waves” by Mike McHargue. I read this passage: In many ways, our pain and our way of coping with it define who we are. These experiences shape us and mold us, for better and for worse. They can compel us to help others or drive us to numb the pain in whatever way we can.
The words were like a shot to my heart. I read those few sentences several times over and decided I needed to apologize for the way I acted with Henry; for my numbness.
* * *
Henry was a boy that grew up at the orphanage where Jillian and I previously worked. He was a likable kid, but had a bit of a rowdy side. He was one of the teams’ favorites because he was outgoing and could speak English well. Just as most children who grow up in institutionalized orphanages, Henry became 100% dependent on the handouts and care given by the Americans rather than being taught to make it on his own.
This system worked in his favor for a time, but inevitably he got too old to live at the orphanage. He turned 18 years old and had to go. But where would he go? What would he do? How would he make it on his own? He did not know anything of living in his own country on his own. Until he next team came to translate for, how would he survive?
He turned to the only way that you can get rich quick in Haiti: crime, drugs, and human trafficking. He made wrong decision after wrong decision in his life. By the time we moved to Haiti, he had built a quite a nasty reputation for himself. We were warned about him and told not to trust him.
To make a long story short, we kept Henry at arms length, but even still he burned us: lies, stealing, and plotting against us and the orphanage. We even had him arrested one time for breaking into the property and stealing electronics.
Soon after, Henry got in trouble with the police again, and there had been a shoot out. No one had seen him after that. Friends and family all thought maybe he had died. A few years passed. No one had thought of him in a long time, and one day he just showed up again. We learned that he had left the country and worked to help smuggle Haitians into Turks and Caicos. He got in to problems with the law there, and decided he could hide out in Haiti for a while.
I found out he was back recently because he had come to my home a couple of times asking for financial help and even once for some cream for a rash on his hands. Both times I was less than friendly to him. Well to put it kindly, I was pretty nasty to him. I had history with this guy, bad history. The last person I wanted to open my door to was Henry. I kept him on the street as I yelled through my screen door to him. I told him that I did not want to help and that he could go talk to someone else about his problems. As I said, I was numb.
* * *
This brings us to church yesterday.
God, in His own way, convicted me to speak to Henry. Even though I didn’t want to, I knew God was calling me out on on my anger and rudeness.
Henry could not keep eye contact with me as I spoke to him after church, but he accepted my apology. He said that people don’t trust him because sometimes he lies and so even when he comes with honest needs, people don’t want to help him. I told him that despite the problems we had in the past, I was still sorry for treating him poorly.
I asked him if he ever got the treatment he needed with the cream, and he said no. As I looked closely at his hands, he told me it is all around his waist and in his pants. I told him that my creams won’t help him. It may be some kind of parasite, but most likely is some kind of STD. I did not tell him that, but we agreed that he would wait and see what he could find out next week when a medical mission’s team came to visit our church.
As we came to an awkward silence at the end of our conversation, I started to say goodbye to him, and he stopped me. He said, “Hunter, I know what you and Jillian are doing for the youth in your program. You all are really doing good work with them.” His eyes still looking way from me, he confessed that he wish we had been living in Haiti when it was his time to leave the orphanage. If he had aged out of the orphanage and come directly to Emmaus House, his life would be completely different.
I could see how broken he was. He was clearly lost and I had no idea what to say to him next. In that moment, I had planned to say sorry to him and then head on home and make lunch for my kids. I had not planned on trying to console him there in the middle of the street.
I don’t even remember what I said next. Something along the lines of if he wants to turn his life around, he is making the right steps by getting back into church.
I don’t know if he will take my words to heart, but I hope he does. This week my children have a memory verse from 1 Peter that could not be more perfect.
1 Peter 8-11 says: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
I hope Henry is able to turn his life around. I am not ready to trust him or even be his friend, but I am ready to show him love when he comes to me again.
Just to save on his true identity I did use a false name for this post. Even though Henry is not his real name, I would love for you all to keep him in your prayers.
Just like so many in Haiti, Henry did not have the opportunity to transition out of orphanage life successfully. Fortunately, the youth in Emmaus House do have such opportunities. Maybe at Emmaus House we can help prevent future orphaned youth from ending up like Henry. Please continue to pray for us as we try to stand in the gap!