Updated: Nov 29, 2018
As the team gathered the plans changed. We would still head out onto the streets of Guatemala City with Time of Rescue, but now it was real. An hour before Cesar, director of Time of Rescue, had received a call to say that a 16 year old and her 3 week baby had run away from her uncle, a known drug dealer in the city, frightened for her & her babies safety and returned to the streets she had known growing up.
Time was short and the need immediate. The team is briefed and we load into the two battered vans and head out. Scouring the streets at speed, the adrenalin begins pulsing through the veins. A tip off leads us to an abandoned pizza shop - a place we had visited earlier in the week filming the "World of Hope" documentary with UCB TV. In the day it had seemed clean, almost clinical and safe, but now at night it had a totally different feel. Cesar scans the area with his flashlight and we pull up. In broken English, Cesar calls "Steve now" and in a moment we are out and walking into the building.
As we entered and headed to where the street kids sleep the room is thick with marijuana smoke. It's dark, damp and eery. 3 youth to our right high on drugs, another crouched over his own pile of vomit and the leader sick on her cardboard bed in the corner. We spot a bundle of rags on the floor amongst the filth ... to our relief it's the baby - asleep, beautiful, totally unaware of the danger she is in. Next to her on a concrete block a single candle - the only source of light. Under it the babies spoon, still covered in milk powder, rests on two bags of marijuana and alongside some spliffs. This is the harsh reality of the streets and is no life for a 3 week old. Cesar takes the baby in his big strong arms and talks with the boys. Mum has gone for nappies so will return shortly. On her return Cesar sits and with compassion explains the risk she and her baby are in. His one goal to convince her to come back off the streets. Eventually after much patience the trust Cesar has built up over time pays off and she agrees to come off the street. This is not the first time he and his team have stood in the gap for her and the many other street kids of Guatemala City. A second team from Time of Rescue arrived to collect two more who are sick and get them to hospital. What is amazing is that some of those helping are former street kids who are now part of the Young Adults with Purpose team from Nicodemus Trust, returning to help those who they once lived amongst.
As we head for the doorway another group of people appear. At first I thought it was the team returning, but the expression in Cesar's face tells me all is not well. The atmosphere has changed & the conversation has intensified. The uncle the girl had run away from had tracked her down and is now in the room with us. With legal paper work in hand he demands the baby is handed over and her mum returns with him back to his shack near the dump. The mum is trapped and Cesar's hands tied - the best we can do is take them back, but at least for now she is off the streets and back amongst her family. This is success, yet somehow it's not a sweet taste. The rest is in the hands of the courts as other agencies fight for justice and a safe place for this mum and baby to grow up. As we leave we ask what the future holds for this baby. With a tear in his eye Cesar simply replies "none ...... none if she stays here."
This is about as real as it gets. Day after day, night after night Cesar and his team are the emergency service for the street kids of Guatemala City. Putting their own lives on the line, they risk it all for the sake of the one - the one forgotten by the system, but not by God. His people are there, right in the thick of it showing love and compassion and fighting for justice.
What I've discovered in these 10 days here in Guatemala is that The Nicodemus Trust are not trying to build an empire, but a movement. They aren't trying to do it all. What they do is find brilliant people who share the same passion and heart for the street youth and join forces to bridge the gap. Young people rescued and with a desire to change are in return plugged into the Young Adults with Purpose movement and in turn become agents for change in their communities, city and their world! As they empower and equip them they really are helping the young transform their world.
Steve Miles - Pastor of Source Church / UCB 'World of Hope' Presenter