Sunday, September 4, 2011

Not Son, but Brother!

Warning! This is another story from one of the children's prisons! If you've had might want to skip this post.

If they intrigue you, then come sit a spell for a good one!

Meet Fred.
Being a photographer, I can USUALLY get a smile out of most people. Fred was TOUGH.
Then again, none of my clients have faced what Fred faces.

After the praise and worship time that Sixty Feet leads on Mondays in the prison, I took a little self-guided tour around the facility.

I met Fred in THE BLACK HOUSE.

The Black House is the step down unit the boys go to after they've completed their time in the solitary cell. Still without any clothes except shorts, these boys are so happy to be given a simple (but putrid) mattress. 

Fred was no longer a Black House resident, but he followed me in there to plead with me to come talk with him. IN PRIVATE. He emphasized that part. I agreed and followed him for a long trip around the grounds of M. When he finally found a suitable place...(was he getting up the nerve?) we sat down.

He told me he wanted to speak to me personally because he listened to what I said to the group. He knew that I knew the heart of children. (His words) He began to tell me his story.

I will preserve his privacy and skip the details. Suffice it to say, I was brokenhearted. 


And then he asked me, "If you would become my REAL mother and your husband my REAL father, then I could go to school..." He worked this sentence into his diatribe a good three times.

I finally asked him straight up, 

"Fred, are you asking me to ADOPT you?"

Fred hung his head. His 15-year old manly voice nearly inaudible, "yes."

What does it take to ask a person you've never met to adopt you?

What came next tore me from limb to limb. 

I had to disappoint Fred. I had to say no to him. He did not take that "no" well. He shut down completely. I talked about getting "no's" in life and how God can use it to build our character if we let Him.

How I have an 11 year old daughter I have to repeatedly say "no" to about buying a horse. That hurts too, but not as bad as this did.

I really didn't think he heard anything I said.

I prayed over him. 

Hugged him.

Told him goodbye.

He was dejected. Worse than a teenage broken heart, he ached with the denial of a mother's love (again!). 

I'm telling you, this RIPPED ME APART!!!

"Here, let's take a picture together," I said. You can see how he felt about that!

I returned two days later to M. I spent my time putting a puzzle together with a group of children in the dining hall and interacting with the boy in the cell. 

And then I looked up. There stood Fred.

"Hi Fred! So nice to see you again!"


Blank stare.


I walked over to greet him properly but he would have nothing to do with me. One of the Sixty Feet workers told him earlier, "Amy is here, do you want to see her?" He returned the same empty, blank stare to her as well.

I could do nothing. I prayed for Fred, but beyond that, I did nothing else. My heart ached, but I did nothing.

This week, I traveled with the Sixty Feet team again to two other prisons. One of them told me something so incredible I had to hear it from the counselor myself:

Fred gave his life to Christ on Wednesday (the day before!)

What?!?! REALLY???

I asked the pastor/counselor (also actually named Fred!) and he confirmed it. Fred came to speak to him during the counseling time. He talked about how "that American woman encouraged me last week," and that he had planned on escaping that very day we talked.

He chose to stay.

And he continued to listen to what Sixty Feet team was preaching and he spoke to another team member who also encouraged him. And he decided he'd had enough of his empty, pain filled, angry existence and was ready to just surrender.

So he did.

Right there, in a children's prison, Fred did not become my son as he wanted, he became my brother!!!

I wrote him a letter. In it I told him that the "no" from me pales in comparison to the "yes" he has gotten from the Almighty God who loves him. He is now a son of the King of Kings and that he has no earthly idea all the joys that await him in this life and in the life to come!

It is with tears of joy I write this story...and know with confidence that it is far from over, but merely beginning!

I plan on seeing my brother Fred again when I return to Uganda.

I cannot wait!!

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