There are many borders between northeast Indiana and Monte Redondo, Honduras. State borders, continental borders, national borders. We crossed them all in our journey to and from Honduras last week.
But manmade barriers prove ineffective when hearts come together to share stories of adversity and faith, and to celebrate divine appointments.
Meet Rossel Urbina.
Rossel is familiar to those of us who have ministered through Forgotten Children Ministries many times, or who have heard stories about the children rescued from the streets of Tegucigalpa in the years following Hurricane Mitch. (An estimated 7,000 people lost their lives in the storm that hit Honduras in October, 1998.)
Rossel was one of 10 boys gathered off the streets of Tegucigalpa by FCM founder Stan Nowell over 15 years ago. A group of missionaries from my hometown were with him as he took them out to the farm that week. There, the boys received food, shelter and the message that God loves them.
Sadly, the boys had to be taken back to the city and to the streets at the end of the week. But in 2002, Stan returned to establish a permanent orphanage for street children. Rossel was one of the boys who came to live at Finca Grace farm.
Last week, through a translator, Rossel shared the story of his divine appointment.
He was 10 years old when his mother died. His father was an alcoholic, so he was left to wander the streets.
“But, God gave me what every child needs — a family and brothers.”
Rossel stayed at FCM through high school. He married and had a son, and though he had been rescued from the streets a decade earlier, Rossel found the world outside FCM still had a pull on his life.
The burdens of providing for his wife and child became too great.
“I strayed from the Lord,” said Rossel. “I hit rock bottom. My heart and mind were destroyed. I didn’t care anymore. I began doing things that damaged my marriage, that damaged my body.”
Rossel spent time in jail. After he was released, he sought help in a men’s ministry at Teen Challenge. Through the program, he worked to regain his self-worth and restore his marriage. He also encountered “a man sent by God.”
An art teacher at Teen Challenge told Rossel he wanted to give him something — the gift of art instruction. For three months, Rossel apprenticed under the man and gained a years’ worth of art instruction.
As a result, Rossel is working full-time creating art. He is able to care for his young son at home while his wife works as a nurse. Each week, Rossel visits FCM to share his story and to sell his original pieces to mission teams. They are tangible evidence of the redemptive grace of God, meted out through the hands of FCM and Teen Challenge.
Listening to this young man share his life story last week, I was struck by the truth that no man is immune from trial, whatever his language, nationality or family history. There are no barriers that promise life will be without struggle. All are faced with the same choices; some will make mistakes that alter their lives forever. Others will turn back to what they know is the better path, even when it’s hard.
Rossel’s message is this: “Everything that happens in life has a purpose.” He would not have chosen to lose his mother and father, to live on the streets, to turn from God or test his marriage. But Rossel’s testimony gives purpose to those realities and proof of God’s grace and mercy, and His divine appointments.
Tomorrow — Irene’s story and Aza’s gift to FCM.