So the first night of the conference came and we went over to make our rounds. The kids directed us to this tiny square shack with a few dirty kids playing in the front yard. This was Roberto’s house. His brother’s girlfriend came out and we asked to see Roberto. She told us he wasn’t there. The kids were saying from the backseats, “These people lie, these people lie!” But…what could we do?
So we headed to church. But by the last night of the conference Roberto hadn’t shown up and we were getting desperate. So Sunday afternoon before church, we went over there again. And again the girlfriend came out and said, “He’s not here.” We had rehearsed what we would do if she said this so Jazmin jumped out and said, “I want to go look inside.”
Surprisingly, the woman agreed. One of the little kids in the yard grabbed the snarling dog by the door and Jazmin went and peeked inside the house. She turned around and shrugged. Roberto wasn’t in there. She came and got in the car and I’ll admit…I was beyond disappointed. My eyes were quickly filling with tears when the kids all started screaming, “THERE HE IS!! HE’S RIGHT THERE!!!! GO BACK, GO BACK!!” I whipped around and saw a flash of a black t-shirt disappear into the house. El Pastor jerked the car into reverse and we went careening backwards towards the house.
Again the girlfriend came out, but this time with a frown. “I told you!! He’s NOT here!!”
And again Jazmin said, “We want to look for ourselves.” The woman said ok. This time, I got out and we tried to go in, but the stupid dog by the door started lunging and snorting at us. Finally they got the dog under control and we went in. This was the one room. In front of us were a closet and a bed. On the bed was sitting a man with no shirt, tattoos all over him. On the left was a wooden dresser with a sliding door. Jazmin went and whipped the curtain on the closet open…no Roberto.
Then something moved in the wooden dresser/closet. Jazmin went to open it and the girlfriend came toward us with her arms out, “Don’t! That’s where I keep my under clothes!” We opened it anyways and there Roberto was with another kid on top of him, shielding him. After a couple minutes of begging Roberto to come out, Jazmin pulled the boy out that was on top of him. Roberto had clothes piled on him and a shirt wrapped tight around his face. I asked him why he was hiding, if he would come out and talk. He wouldn’t answer me. I talked to him, told him that his family loved him, that God loved him and was after him. I cried and prayed for him and begged him to come to church, but for half an hour he would not say one word. Then finally, finally, he started giving me one word answers. He promised to come to church next Sunday. That wasn’t good enough, but unless we tied this kid up, he wasn’t going anywhere with us.
So for about 2 months now, Roberto has been promising us that he is going to come to church “next Sunday”. At first he wouldn’t come near Nicole or me and even had a hard time being around the rest of the youth. Then one day he came and hung out with us when we went to the caves. That was a HUGE deal.
Then the night we were packing up to leave for the U.S. a bunch of people from the church came over to say goodbye and Roberto came too! Again, Roberto promised to come to church. I told the kids, “Don’t give up on him, keep inviting him, he has to give in one day.”
Juan C and Roberto
Well…….!! We've been in the U.S. for 3 weeks now and yesterday morning our assistant pastor’s son messaged me and said, “Bethany!! I’ve got awesome news!!! Roberto came to church last night!” He said Roberto came up front and his whole family gathered around him and began to pray. They said he just broke down crying.
They sent these pictures:
All I could do was cry and say thank you, Jesus!! God is sooo good!
When I hear more news, I'll update here.
Keep praying for Roberto!!