Good morning everybody!
Just wanted to feature the ongoing story of our friend Julio. For a quick review, Julio is a guy who Bill Burrows and I worked with in Lansing prison last year. Julio was born to drug dealing parents in Honduras. Both of them died when he was about 8 years old, and for several years an older sister and some relatives took care of him. When he was 12 he came to the States illegally with another brother to be with his sister who had married an American citizen. They were living in a small town near Manhattan, Kansas.
Prison Outreach Program Reached Julio
All was going well, and Julio was scheduled to get his residency papers all cleared up when he got in trouble with the law and at 18 was sentenced to 6 years in prison. About halfway through his sentence he was led to Christ through a Brothers in Blue program in prison. Brothers in Blue was started by friends of Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship ministry. They took him through a year-long discipleship program, and then last year, Bill and I mentored him in a Bible study that was one of our experimental groups for the Play. Story. Eat. Bible study. When his sentence was up in July, he was transferred to a deportation holding facility. Finally, three months later, in October of this past year, he was put on a plane for Honduras.
From Prison to Working at a Call Center
The last time I mentioned his story, I asked you to pray for Julio as he was working as a welder making doors for a prison in San Pedro Sula. I also mentioned that he was interviewing for a job speaking English in a call center. Well, he did get the job! Believe it or not, he is making calls on behalf of a network of dentists in the United States! Currently he makes about $400 a month in that job. The average wage for a worker in Honduras is less than $200 a month. So Julio feels good that he is getting a steady job to get him on his feet.
Finally, Our First Meeting in Honduras!
After about 6 months of not seeing each other, I finally got to see Julio for the first time since he was in prison in Lansing. And I have to admit that for me it was a day of celebration. Julio spent a weekend with us in Catacamas and met some of my friends doing various kinds of ministry. One guy in particular has started Discovery Bible studies in prison among the very people that murdered some of his family. When Julio heard his story, they immediately hit it off well. Another friend is a pastor, and another is working with a few of our Christian Rancher groups. When we came back through San Pedro to drive back to Guatemala, we met with Julio and a few of his friends who are starting a new group together. Because of the nature of gang activity in San Pedro, everyone has to be careful as to where and when they travel in the city.
A Search for Family
As we ate Chinese food together and talked about how a Play.Story.Eat. group works, we heard a little of each of their stories. Of the 7 present, every single one of them had an absentee father who was either dead, in prison, or in the United States. When we talked about having friends that were like family, they all resonated with the idea. In fact, Julio showed me a tattoo he had gotten in prison. Across his back is one word: "Familia." He and his friends are looking for a family. In fact, gangs thrive where there is a scarcity of healthy family life.
Pray for Julio and his friends as they start their group. They plan to play soccer together and invite some friends to join them. Pray that as they become family to one another, they can infect many others with the connection we have with one another in Jesus.
Please join us.
PLAY. STORY. EAT. Retreat in Kansas City on March 17-19.
Location: Hyatt Place Kansas City Airport
Times: Friday, March 17 - begin at 6 p.m.
Saturday - 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with an afternoon break
Sunday - 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Retreat Cost: $59 per person, including all meals and snacks for the time we are together (Note: Dinner on Friday is on your own before we begin.)