As an outreach leader, I’d prepared for all the things that could come up. People getting sick, people getting hurt, people having items stolen from them. But, I was always prepared for it to happen to my students, not to me.
We’d been hanging out with the street boys ever since we first arrived in Papua New Guinea. Some of them are probably orphans, some of them ran away from home, some of them don’t have a home and some of them were kicked out of home by their parents. Whatever their circumstances, sadly they’re now beggars. They sit on the sidewalk and ask the people walking by for money. We first met them while walking to the store as a team, they came running up to us patting their bellies and holding their hands out, as if asking for a meal.
The first time we saw this, we went into the store and bought as many bottles of waters and packets of cookies as we could carry and brought them out to the boys. Their faces lit up as we passed out snacks, and they were so excited when we taught them a new handshake.
This became a regular routine. Every day we walked down to where the boys hung out, bringing plenty of drinks and snacks, and took them to play rugby in a field nearby.
Towards the end of our time in Papua New Guinea we set up a stand on one of the street corners. We bought drinks to give out for free, wrote encouraging notes in Pidgin, the local language, brought nail polish to paint people’s nails, and turned on worship music. As soon as we pulled out the drinks, the street boys came running. It was amazing to see them all there, and two of the girls on the team began to tell Bible stories and pray with them! As the street boys started to leave, I heard the music we were playing begin to fade. I looked down to my right where the speaker and my phone was and noticed my phone was gone! In a panic, I looked at my friend Rebeca who had been sitting next to me the whole time.
“Do you have my phone?” I asked.
“No…” she said.
Horrified, I realized what had happened.
The boys had been sitting on the ledge behind us and one of them had swiped it as they walked away.
I quickly gathered the team.
“Alright guys, here’s what we’re going to do. Let’s split up into two groups and pray and ask God where the phone is.”
One group went with our contact to talk to the street kids still sitting nearby, and I took the other group to talk to the security guards.
When we asked the security guards if they had seen anything, they began to yell.
“This is why you don’t hang out with street boys!” They said. “These kids are all bad!” “They are scum!”
“No,” we pleaded with them, “these are our friends!”
We continued on in search of the phone, and eventually some street boys came running up to us. We were able to get out of them that they were sent from our other group of friends to tell us that yes, the boys did take the phone, and they would try to get it back for us.
As the boys told us this message, the security guards came over. Along with them came some of the people who we had been talking to earlier at our stand, except this time, they were furious.
“You boys are always causing trouble!” They yelled. “Get out of here!” To our surprise, they began to beat the boys.
“Stop,” we protested, “These are our friends!”
The street boys ran away, and while they ran, I realized the opportunity that was right in front of me.
As an outreach leader, I was always prepared to disciple my students through the “hard stuff” and I was always ready to seize every moment as a opportunity to learn. When I looked around and saw a crowd of angry people, I instantly realized that this was another “discipleship moment”.
I started to preach about Jesus and his unconditional love for us. I told about how He came for the “least of these”, and how His initial love for us made us able to love others.
Before that moment, I was upset. I wasn’t upset that I didn’t have a phone, rather, I was upset that these boys who we had been spending time and money on decided to take from us something we could have just bought them.
Something I’ve realized in my own life is that before I experienced God’s unconditional love for myself, I didn’t know how to love others. No matter how hard I tried, I would still get upset when people hurt me or get mad at people when they weren’t nice to me.
These boys had no one besides us to share with them about this unconditional love. They had no mother, no grandma, and no youth pastor to tell them about a Father who will never stop loving them.
My team realized what an opportunity we had. Each day after my phone was stolen, we went out and preached and taught the people on the street about forgiveness. We shared with the people that God had given us forgiveness, and that we needed to extend the same to others. We explained to them that if all they did was beat the street boys whenever they did anything wrong, they would never learn. They would only learn to run away and steal from someone else. We talked to them about adoption, not legal adoption, but taking ownership of the boys and teaching them what was right and what was wrong.
And every day we loved the boys even harder. We bought them shoes, brought them food and cokes, and gave them balls to play with. We continued to take them out to the field to play rugby, and continued to do our handshake with them.
As a follower of Jesus, I want to take every opportunity to preach the Gospel and to share about His love for me.
By Kai Bruntmyer
YWAM Summer Classic DTS Staff