“I lived on the street when I was a boy.”
Ricardo has been a blessing to our ministry. He diligently serves us on HOPE Mountain as he cleans fields, cares for our animals, washes our vehicles or maintains our facilities. When he isn’t engaged in the drudgery of sweat labor, he assists our short term teams in translating, running back and forth to the “colmado” (corner store), or simply in being a friend.
This guy is all over the place! He leaves early some mornings to catch the “guaga’ (small bus) for a long drive to our children center in Cien Fuegos. He loves on the children who reside near the landfill and values each of them as if they were his own.
The children at our Puerto Plata center experience his delight as well. He takes the long drive in the opposite direction to minister to them as well.
He has become consistent company to our Los Cerritos Vida en Cristo church. He faithfully attends each Sunday and assists our local pastor there to the best of his ability.
His loyal heart has a lot to do with his connection to the people. He understands hardship. He knows pain.
His mom and dad died when he was three years old in Haiti. Poverty and misfortune led him to the streets at the age of five. He begged and even stole for food every day. His life was full of misery.
He wanted to attend school, but he had no paperwork and never imagined he would have the opportunity to do so. As he begged on the street one day, a man asked him if he could really help him by getting him into school. This “angel” was able to locate Ricardo’s uncle, obtain the necessary paperwork and get him into school.
He was present each day at his learning establishment, yet continued to live on the street. His life was a street life. He didn’t have a roof over his head when it rained. He never knew what it was like to sit on the sofa in the evening to watch a movie with his family. He knew nothing of a family meal at the dining room table. He was a child and he was alone. Day in and day out, he had to figure out life in solitude.
There were no guardians to train him. No parents to love him. It was Ricardo all by himself. Yet, he continued to endure each day.
He suffered severe malnutrition as a teen and ended up in the public hospital with frequent nosebleeds. A Christian lady saw his condition and prayed for him. She told him that Jesus Christ would heal him and he thought she was insane.
To his surprise, he was healed. The heartsick state of the hospital staff towards him led them to keep him there. He was allowed to sleep on the hospital floor every day when school was over.
Still with no guides, he attended college. He studied Mathematics and Chemistry. He even graduated!
Life changed some when he graduated from college as he landed a job as a Public school teacher. He could now at least afford to pay for a roof over his head and for daily sustenance.
He was still alone and lost. He wondered about the name of the One who healed him when he should’ve died as a teen. He wanted to know more about Jesus. His searching for truth landed him on the base of a Christian missionary organization where he studied and learned God’s word daily. He was convinced that he found the truth and gave his life to Christ.
He came to work with us on HOPE Mountain as his outreach assignment for his mission’s class. It was difficult to not notice his diligence. He was always willing to do whatever was asked and he never complained. His commitment is to the Christ who healed him and he unashamedly serves His God in any way he is needed!
When his outreach was over and the rest of his team prepared to leave, he pulled us to the side, “I need to stay here. I have to obey God and work with you. I know that He wants me to serve you here.”
Our hearts were overjoyed and we remain fascinated by the people that God sends our way!
He started his life on the street, now he is a bridge for those who need to cross over to a new life in Christ.