Originally posted June 2, 2012
Sometimes, even in the midst of ministry highs like welcoming summer groups and building improvements, we get a harsh reminder of the world’s brokenness. That was true of this week, as we lost the lives of two of our BC teens: Jose de la Cruz, 17, and Emerson, 14.
The boys left our building in the morning to go and buy milk for breakfast and never returned. Their bodies were later found, shot and left outside of the city. We don’t really have any details about what happened after they left our building that morning, and no information is known about their attackers. The boys may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time, or they may have gone looking for trouble. We will probably never know. Either way, we lost two sweet boys, whom we loved and were a big part of our family at Breaking Chains.
Jose (left) and Emerson (right)
These boys endured lives that most of us cannot even imagine, peppered with hardships like drugs, loss, violence, betrayal and rape. Still, they let us love them. They let us hug them. They let us kiss their heads. They shared their unspeakable stories with us, and let us share our desire for God to work in their hearts.
The tragedy happened on the heels of some great strides for both of the boys. Jose de la Cruz, whose body and history have long been marked by painful gang violence and drugs, had stopped using cocaine completely and had become a willing helper at our building. One of our groups this past week spent some time at a special needs orphanage, and Jose tagged along. It was such an amazing moment to watch him, with his scarred body and only one full arm, get such joy from pushing around another needy child in a wheelchair and realizing his blessings. This sweet, yet conflicted soul was really trying to leave his past behind and looking forward to the future.
Jose de la Cruz and the friend he made at the special needs orphanage.
Emerson had recently returned to our building after a stay in a children’s home in the city. He was able, along with Jose, to help one of our groups build a house in the village of Izopo the day before his death. Emerson, who is reserved at times due to his painful past, was able to laugh, interact with the men from the U.S. group, take in the beauty of the mountainside and help build a home for someone in need. We are so thankful that he was able to experience that kind of joy. He had a kind spirit and loved being useful whenever one of us needed a hand.
Emerson (left) and Darwin nailing in the tin on the new roof in Izopo.
Both boys were always willing to help in whatever way needed and had a sweetness uncharacteristic of a life on the streets. Jose would lay his head down on your shoulder and say, “Thank you for listening; I love you.” Emerson would smile and give you a kiss on the cheek.
We all ache and still halfway expect them to walk through our doors. Please pray for our family as we mourn and figure out how to cope with the loss of these two sweet boys we loved so much.
Please pray for Jose’s mother, brothers and sisters and Emerson’s brothers and sisters as they mourn for these boys.
And please pray that God’s hand be over all of the teens, children and adults that we work with. The world is a broken place, but God is a healer and restorer. He makes all things new and lifts the heads of the hurting. We pray that we always trust in Him to guide and protect our ministry and those we serve.