I got back this past Monday form a short-term trip sent out from our church. It was a blessing and a gift to spend time with close friends and students I’ve worked with over the past years in the location marked out ahead of us. I’m still processing all that happened and there are so many stories to share. I struggle to capture the beauty, the redemption, and the hope of our Savior that was experienced by so many over the course of the week. Most likely the weeks to come will be filled with stories from our trip.
Here is a brief story that includes hot dogs, drugs, kids, a swing, and a guy named Freddie.
Freddie sells hot dogs in Marquez de Leon, the village outside La Paz and near the Ranch. He is a hard working man with a tattoo of his son on his forearm. His son also helps him sell hotdogs.
Freddie tells us that before the Ranch started doing ministry at the park in Marquez de Leon not too many kids would play there. It’s not that there weren’t things to do…there was a slide, a globe-like contraption that spins around like a cheap carnival ride, and a broken swing. It was more that the park was frequented by local drug users. Parents would keep their kids away because the park would be a hang-out and party spot for local users and abusers.
This all started to change when the Ranch and local churches started doing ministry in the park. Kids started coming and parents would join their kids as they participated in the Ranch’s ministry. Kids played in the park. They smiled and laughed.
This past trip our group took down the one broken swing and put up two new ones. Freddie says that it is good to see kids smiling again and hear their laughter coming from the park. The local party goers still show-up now and then but not at the rate they used to. Freddie testifies to things changing. He says kids are laughing again.
Freddie has built a relationship with the Ranch and has seen the redemption that is taking place and experiencing the love of Christ through the groups that come in. Freddie owns a piece of property neighboring the park property that he is considering to rent to the Ranch for a more established ministry in the area.
We pray for Freddie. He is one of so, so many…experiencing the love of Christ and being changed. We pray that ultimately Freddie not only experiences the redemption of the park near his hot dog stand, but the redemption of Christ in his heart and family.