In the summer of 2015 I came to Saint Vincent for a short-term ministry (which ended up going for six years!). A major goal when I arrived was beginning to develop relationships with Vincentians in the community of Barrouallie.
About a month after I arrived, two boys from the neighbourhood came to visit. They probably came out of curiosity, but enjoyed some water, a Bible story, and even a few games on my tablet.
I looked forward to seeing them many more times….
But they never came again.
I was confused by this, and later on asked one of the other kids what happened to them. “Oh their mom went to jail” one of them said calmly.
One of the saddest things I’ve seen many times on the mission-field is a Child’s loss of innocence. By this I mean they don’t have the structured or protected environment that comes from a healthy family.
Most of the men don’t care for their children (which makes them gutless cowards), and the moms spend their time caring for the younger children. This means the other brothers and sisters can pretty much do their own thing.
The response of Believers to this challenge is to become what I call “spiritual parents.” Ones who enter into the lives of children at a young age, and help mentor or disciple them. This takes lots of patience and attention, but can reap great benefits.
In the early years of ministry in SVG, I kept an eye out for children who were in need.
- Maybe they didn’t have lots of friends
- Perhaps they weren’t gifted in the same way as others
- Maybe they just needed some extra attention
When the Lord laid a child on my heart, I did my best to come alongside him (they were almost always boys), and just guide him in the right way. It didn’t always work out perfectly, but the Lord was glorified.
One by one those children started calling me “Mr. John.” Actually they didn’t say it, its more like they screamed it whenever they saw me 🙂
Today if you walk the streets of Barrouallie, you will hear me called by many names. But one of the most common is Mr. John, and it’s usually shouted by a crowd of kids.
I am honoured to have that title. Because it is a testimony of children who I have been able to pour my heart into for the Gospel of Christ