Why in the World Did God lead me to Work with Haitian Street Boys?
I had an Epiphany yesterday. No, it didn’t involve angels nor a bright light but it was an “illuminated discovery” right in the middle of a prayer.
Before I share this epiphany, I first want to tell you a story about my dad, Kenneth Ramirez.
He was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1953. He was the middle boy between two sisters and each one of the siblings had a different father. None of them knew who their father was. Kind of scandalous for 1950s Venezuela. Their mom, my grandma Gladys, was quite treacherous and beguiling. Think of a pint-sized, Latin version of Joan Crawford as depicted in Mommy Dearest and you’re close to getting an accurate idea of who she was. I grew up hearing just how awful she was to her children–merciless beatings, manipulation and an overall lack of a mother’s love. When my dad was 13, he went on a beach getaway with a friend’s family and when he returned, the house was empty. Vacant. His mom had moved and told the girls not to tell their brother where they were now living.
Instead of feeling sorry for himself, my dad took to the streets very well. He was an autodidact and taught himself how to sew and was soon working as a tailor. He also made leather goods and even learned to play the flute and earn money on street corners. In other words, this resilient hippy-tailor learned to survive.
He met my mom in the 70s, had my brother and I and moved us to the United States when I was a newborn. As we all know, hurt people, hurt people. And that is what my dad did to us. His tumultuous past coupled with untreated mental illness prevented our family from ever knowing the feeling of “home.” We were made to work constantly and were physically and mentally abused.
By the grace of God, I encountered Jesus when I was 12 years old. My faith gave me the hope I needed to make good choices and to dream of a life different than the hell I was living. I prayed constantly for our family to be restored. My brother, on the other hand, inherited the legacy of brokenness and began making decisions that would lead to a hard, tumultuous life.
Fast-forward many years and my amazing husband and I began working with vulnerable children. We wanted to help children in the same way that I had wished someone had helped me. Doesn’t take a genius to put that together, but what did leave me scratching my head was why, in 2014, God called me to work with street boys who were aging out of orphan care in Haiti.
As we engaged head-first into the work, I soon discovered that young men are an underserved demographic when it comes to orphan prevention work. We realized that by educating and
equipping and loving these young orphaned men–we were helping them stop the cycle of orphanhood and violence in their spheres of influence. We were preventing future women and children from having to experience the sting of violence and abandonment.
And that’s where my Epiphany comes in.
Yesterday, I was praying for an upcoming women’s conference alongside a group of women and God laid on my heart to start praying for women who had a “bad relationship” with their fathers. Women who had been abandoned, abused or neglected by their fathers. Women who inherited a skewed idea of who their Abba Father is because the men tasked with the job of providing and protecting them failed them.
And that is where I had my Epiphany:
God led me to work with young orphaned men because I wanted to give them what No ONE ever gave my father.
No one stepped into the margins of his life to help him. No one preached the gospel to him. No one gave him trauma-informed care. The lack of intervention led him to stumble into a family and repeat what had been done to him.
What if someone had intervened? He would have had a different legacy to leave behind and perhaps my brother would have a different story to tell.
Young orphaned men deserve our love and attention and just as importantly; their future wives and children deserve our love and attention just like my mom, my brother and I deserved a restored dad so many years ago.
Our work with BCB is more than just healing orphaned men. It is about redeeming and restoring families with a legacy of violence, abuse and poverty.
These families are down the street from us.
They are in the apartment buildings of the boys that E:2:10 Ministries takes to Colorado.
They are caught in our child welfare system.
They are less than 1000 miles off the Florida coast in a little island nation called Haiti.
When we help these young men, we help future families become strong. And strong families make strong communities. THAT is why we come together as Better Community Builders.
I ask you to do three things:
Make BCB a monthly priority. Block out the first Thursday of every month in your schedule to reduce conflict schedules.
Invite 3 friends to visit BCB at next month’s event. We will have a GRAND PRIZE to any member who brings the most invited guests next month.
Join our leadership team. Help us blow up the BCB Mission so we can make a bigger impact both locally and in Haiti. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.