Our small neighborhood valley has changed over the years since we purchased this house in 1998. Houses have been built on small strips of land that we never would have guessed could be big enough for a house. With more houses have come more people and dogs. It’s much more common these days to have the quiet of the valley displaced by the sound of a radio and children playing.
Sometimes in the night the ‘Howl-lelujah chorus’ of dogs disrupt our sleep. And sometimes we wake to the sound of intoxicated young men in a taxi with the radio blaring or sitting on our cement driveway in the wee hours of the night. That is not so pleasant.
This morning I heard some young men just outside our gate talking in loud voices. I suspected that they had just come up the path from town where they would have been drinking. I have to admit that I find the noise and beer cans left on our driveway an irritation. I decided to walk out and talk to the young men and ask them to move on to their own homes.
As I walked I tried to brace myself to be firm, but kind in the way I talked to them. It doesn’t pay off to get anyone angry. When I got to the gate I was surprised to be greeted by name. ‘O Mata, yu kam bak nao!’ (Oh, Martha you have come back!) Two of the young men are nephews of our neighbor.
The third young man walked up to the gate and greeted me as well. He told me he was the son of a friend from our church. When he was a young boy, we gave his mother, sister and him a ride to church. The father did not attend church and this faithful mother worked hard to encourage her children to follow Christ.
As I began to talk to this young man with his glazed over eyes, I asked him, ‘Why are you letting alcohol destroy your future?’ Maybe the alcohol loosened his lips, but he began pouring out his story. He was the only one in his family who had gotten to the level of schooling that he has reached. He had dreams and ambitions, but he had caved to peer pressure. And he hasn’t been attending church.
I reminded him that God loves him and he allows people to turn their lives around. I reminded him that he has a gift – his intelligence and he shouldn’t waste it on alcohol and not doing his best at school. I reminded him of his faithful mother who must be praying for him and crying over him. He got teary eyed and replied, ‘Yes, always.’
The conversation continued and as I spoke, he kept replying, ‘that’s true’ and ‘you’re right’. It was if he has been waiting for someone to speak the truth to him
I asked him if he would like to do a job for us – cleaning out our gutters. He said he would like to and would come back later today. I told him I thought that was a good idea since I wanted him sober if he was going to be on the roof!
He reached though the grid of the fence to try and shake hands. I put my hands up to the gate on my side and he pressed his hands up on the other. “Thank you” he said. I don’t know if he will truly change his ways, but the conversation at the gate sure turned out differently than I thought.
I’m thankful to be here. Thankful for the years we have had here that have lead to long term relationships like this one. I’m even thankful for gray hair and being listened to like an ‘aunty’ would in this culture.
Please pray for this young man I’ll call, ‘Sam’. Pray that when he is sober, he will return to church and return to his walk with Christ.