Antonio: A softening heart

Originally posted November 29, 2014


 By Courtney Mathews

A few years ago, the teenager in the picture above would not have been willingly smiling at the camera. A few years ago, he would have been closed-off, insecure, and angry (often unable to express why). He was sometimes hard to get along with because of his rough and disinterested attitude. But that was a few years ago, and what a difference a few years can make.

Now, Antonio’s bright face is one we look forward to seeing every time we walk through the doors at Breaking Chains. Over the past few years, we have seen God chip away at Antonio’s heart a little at a time and, in turn, we’ve seen his sweet spirit come to life. He now smiles and laughs easily. He often volunteers to help with whatever task we need, rather than immediately saying no as a defense. He calms down easily in the event that he does get angry about something. And he loves working with our U.S. groups when they build houses because, even though he may be shy at first, he loves the interaction and enjoys using his skills to help others.

Antonio has struggled a lot in the past with self-esteem. He never had an affirming father figure and never had a formal education. He quickly gave up on most learning or training opportunities before they began because they made him uncomfortable and he was scared to fail. But this past year, Antonio has opened himself up to different things and we’ve seen him grow as a result – including completing a learn to read program with another nonprofit called Casa Domingo. Now, he’s even thinking toward the future and the possibility of enlisting in the Honduran military when he turns 18.

There are times when we interact with Antonio and are struck by just how different he is now versus a few years ago. We can’t help but smile every time we see him reading the sports section of the paper or laughing and playing soccer in the building with one of the little kids. We love watching him on the house sites and witnessing the compassion he feels for the families and the pride he feels for having helped. And we love getting his hugs every day.

Antonio is a perfect example of the way God can soften hearts. He still has a long way to go, just like the rest of us, but we can’t help but be overjoyed by God’s grace as we watch Antonio learn to grow, love and trust daily. Please consider sponsoring Antonio so that we can have another joy-filled Beach Christmas trip with him again this year.