I am sitting in the car listening to 2 guys talking in the back seat... I listen in amazement and shock. Are these really the same 2 guys that I met a year ago who? One who was a transvestite and the other who was too broken and ashamed to even open up... who started sweating everytime we even mentioned the Lord. Now I sit and listen to them talk about God... about 'Christianity". We spent the night having dinner at our apartment with them, then watching a movie, and now while driving to the airport to drop off a short term mission team, I see the fruit.
It is so incredible and such a privilege when God allows us to experience the fruit of our labor- something that we are neither entitled not promised to always see. But when we do see it, it's incredible.
I know I have blogged about "Izzy" before- how he left the streets after being a transvestite for 5 years (he's only 20). How his childhood was filled with abuse, betrayal, rape, and finally abandonment & being sold. We became friends a year ago on the street corner- he loved me instantly but would not even look in Carlos's direction out of shame. In just one short year- he is now off the streets, loves the Lord, is finding his identity in Jesus, talks with Carlos every day, comes to our house for bible studies throughout the week, and is planning to do a Discipleship Training School this year.
I feel that I have to share this story with you- because of the way it has impacted my heart and my faith in the Lord:
On our wedding day, Izzy called us to tell us that he would not be able to come to the wedding- he was being admitted into the hospital. As you may know, he was diagnosed with HIV 3 months after he left the streets. As soon as we got off the phone with him that morning- our phone did some crazy iphone thing where it erased all of our contacts, everything was gone. Because Izzy had recently changed his phone number so that people from the streets would stop calling him (the obviously want to pull him back), no one else on our team had his new number. There we are- right after we get married- knowing he is sick in the hospital- and not knowing how to find him. My heart was so heavy. Carlos couldn't sleep for nights. We poured out our hearts to God.... we wanted to be with him. We made a promise to him when he first found out that he was sick that we would walk with him EVERY step of the way- that we would be at doctor's appointments, buy him food each week, go with him to psychologists, be his spiritual partners, etc. And we can't even find him. We don't even know how to begin to look. So we look to God.
A few days later on a street corner, one of the male prostitutes told us that he heard from 3 different people that Izzy had died.
We couldn't take it. We could not accept that. We prayed.
The next day, an unknown number called us and on the other end is Izzy's sweet voice. He came over to the house where he told us what happened:
"You guys have always walked with me in my walk with God. But this week, I had to experience God directly. I went into the hospital and they admitted me. The doctor did a procedure looking for spinal fluid... the stuck a huge needle in my back at least 30 times... I thought I was going to die from the pain. Afterwards the doctor told me that he didn't find the fluid, and they would have to repeat the procedure the following day. I broke down- I planned how I could escape- there was NO WAY I was going to do that again. NO WAY. I began to pray...... and I prayed, and prayed. The next day, I lay down on the table for them to repeat this painful procedure.... I ask God to take away the pain, and I begin to declare the things we've been learning about who God is in my life aloud. The doctor stuck me 30 times again.... but I never felt one thing. Not one thing. God did it! He was there for me! No one else was there, but He was there. And He talked to me, and He was there with ME!"
He continued to tell me how he now understands more why he is passing through this difficult time. He knows and believes that God has a huge calling on his life- that he will rescues thousands from the streets- that God will use his horrible past which has now become his testimony to bring God glory and fame- that Izzy is willing to lay down his life to rescue others.
I cried and cried as I listened. This is our goal- to have people come to know Jesus personally. I believe that God wasn't allowing us to find him for a reason- God wanted to find him on his own now.
Please continue to pray for Izzy- His body is going through a lot as he gets used to the powerful medication that is helping to fight his HIV.