I received a phone call from a school psychologist yesterday about Josue, a fourteen-year-old boy who is having serious problems due to an unstable home situation. I had received a phone call about him around a year ago, but he had survived another year of school while still at home. Now, the situation is so serious he is out on the street. The school had painstakingly worked their way through every available option, even resorting to the juvenile court system. But in the end, Josue was still living with his father and suffering indescribable abuse.
The Zona Juvenil Ministry team serves as a quick reaction force, responding 24/7 to emergencies involving young people and their families. The Youth Ranch Home is pretty much the only option for young men who need a Safe Place where they can find help. Our home serves as an oasis of love and support for those guys who really need to escape abuse, think through their situation, or make life transforming decisions. So, yesterday, thirty-five minutes after the call, I was sitting at school speaking with Josue.
Josue is a very intelligent kid, and a single parent, raising an alcohol dependent and very abusive father. Like many adolescents in this type of situation, he is realizing he is not doing a very good job at raising his father. And he feels lost. He recently met his mother for the first time, but there is no real relationship with her. To escape the abuse, he has to resort to sleeping on the street when his father is “in a really bad mood”. And although he is extremely bright, he is at risk of failing the school year due to missing so many days of school.
The Youth Ranch Home is both home and family for over twenty boys who have no other home. But we also serve as a refuge for boys who need a temporary home or a safe place for a night or two. We don’t always share who is spending a night/week/month, but these boys are just as important to our home as those we always share about. They are important because God allows us a short period of time to share His love, His plan, His hope, and His joy while they are within our walls. Josue shared that on Friday night he came home to find his father intoxicated and extremely violent. The man hit him so hard that he bounced off of a wall and lay unconscious for a time before crawling out of his house and to safety. He spent the weekend on the street, ultimately walking on Sunday evening across the city alone in the dark and pouring rain until he found where his mother is living. She allowed him to spend Monday with her, but now he is out on the street again. “I lay in the dark, drenching wet, wondering if there were someplace for a boy like me to go”.
Today we will meet with the juvenile court and Josue’s family to determine where the best place for him will be for a time. Please pray for our team today as we walk with Josue through this process, and for thousands more like him who are on the streets and feel hopeless.