Steffany, a 16-year-old mother of 11 month old Nicole, was banished from her small village on the coast while still pregnant. The father of the child then brought her here to Iquitos. I don´t know how long the relationship was good or how quickly it deteriorated but the father started beating them both. Steffany, to avoid the pain, and out of fear for her child's life has been staying on the streets, with all of her earthy possessions in a small plastic bag the size of a purse. Most of these belongings are baby related.
I asked her four different times if she had any family whatsoever in Iquitos and the answer was always, no. It has happened again. A moment when I know the person in front of me will be more then a casual patient or passing stranger. We will investigate this story as best we can tomorrow. Since she is under 18 and has no personal documents of any kind, it is difficult to verify anything other than hearsay.
Martha is actually the one who found them. I guess having suffered the early death of her own mother and living on the streets for two years, she carries a soft spot for others who suffer in the same way. She is quick to recognize need and pro active in her attempt to help. I asked Steffany how she ended up in our headquarters and she told me that Martha had listened to her story and when it was finished she simply said, "Come to my fathers house...he will take care of you." Her eyes filled with tears and she finished by saying, "I have no where else to go."
What an amazing parallel to a much greater story. Banished from our real home by poor judgment and weakness, we suffer at the hand of one whose intent is exploitation, bondage and humiliation. Bruised and sore we run without a plan, hide in our shame and when given the opportunity, all we can do is tell our story.
This sixteen year old girl whose life is spiraling out of control, suffered rejection by a family in her specific time of need. For a child whose father turned his back during these critical moments, what sweeter words to hear than, "Come to my fathers house and he will take care of you." For Martha this was a testimony and invitation all wrapped up in one. Based on her own experience, her conviction caused a frightened young mother to trust again.
It is almost midnight now. Martha and Candy have opened their room to a mother and child. A few moments ago from my office next door, I heard the cries of the baby. When I peeked in I saw three kids from the streets, all safe, clean and peaceful and one baby girl who had fallen back to sleep in her mothers arms. As I stood in the doorway I understood just a little more of how God wants to protect and provide for everyone who will come to His house. If we have been there, our story and conviction will naturally lead others to a place of safety.
Live to serve....Serve to live,