This post refers to graphic content that may not be appropriate for young readers!
In his folky Ballad of Hollis Brown, Bob Dylan tells the tragic story of a poor South Dakota farmer whose children are starving. Every time Dylan gets to these lyrics he tangles my stomach:
You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
Your children are so hungry
That they don’t know how to smile
Your baby’s eyes look crazy
They’re a-tuggin’ at your sleeve
You walk the floor and wonder why
With every breath you breathe
As Dylan goes on to describe Hollis Brown’s desperate measures, I couldn’t help but reflect on the ugly stories that you’ve heard in the news about Colombia over the past week. In much the same way, Colombian families living in abject poverty are often forced to take desperate measures to provide for their fragmented or displaced family via prostitution, the drug trade, or otherwise. The story that the news doesn’t broadcast is how the Evil One has his grip on some of the social structures in Colombia.
I saw this firsthand on my last visit to a Colombian slum on the outskirts of Bogotá. For decades the stories in this slum have been gut-wrenching ones: displaced families from the ongoing civil war in Colombia, drug trafficking, absent or deceased parents, child prostitution, recruiting grounds for child soldiers for the so-called “revolutions” of paramilitary groups. Desperation.
We didn’t go to this slum just to get a whiff of the desperation there. Rather, we visited Carlos and his ministry to take a peak at transformation, the hope that accompanies a Savior who walked out of his own tomb. Carlos used to be the oppressor in some of these stories of desperation, making upwards of $100,000 a day in the growth and distribution of cocaine. After Jesus transformed Carlos’ heart, He also gave him a vision for ministering to children who don’t know how to smile. Now Carlos and his family live among the poor in this slum, pastoring a church plant there, feeding breakfast and lunch to 400 kids a day, and witnessing community renewal through the Gospel. What a picture of God’s heart for the next generation! You can read a more complete version of God’s faithfulness in Carlos’ story here (great photos!).
- Pray for the young people growing up in desperate conditions in Colombia
- Pray for Carlos and the Lord’s work in this slum
- Pray for our team as we consider potential partnerships with this ministry