Giving Up the Streets

Rachel Chimits

One young man experienced the transformation that only Christ can bring that took him off the streets and back to his childhood home.

“I spent over five years as a street child in Nairobi and Mombasa, in Kenya,” Moses Ogutu wrote for Young African Magazine.

He pointed out that poverty, superstition and physical abuse often drives children to the street, and once they’re there, they are often stigmatized and become mistrustful of any and all adults, even those who might help them.

“The problem is not limited to Africa or the so called developing world. In Europe, Canada and the USA, millions of children run away from home to live on the streets. Across the USA, the National Center on Family Homelessness (NCFH) reports that 1 in 45 children experience homelessness each year. The average age for a homeless child in the USA is nine.”

Many of these homeless children need someone who sees them as their Creator does: vulnerable, valuable and beloved.

A Lonely Wanderer

Gad was one of those taken off the streets and sent to the Ehikirezi Transition Center, but unlike many of the homeless youth they receive, he wasn’t strictly speaking a child.

He was 19, a thief and a criminal well on his way to become a dangerous young man. He had been caught more than a few times stealing goods from the marketplace in addition to people’s money. He arrived at the center sullen, unsociable and irresponsible. He wasn’t comfortable around the younger children and didn’t trust the adults on the team.

By bits and pieces, the team gradually learned about his past. His family had been wracked by poverty and other problems. Gad had responded by quarreling with classmates at school, then to stealing others’ belongings and then to starting fights. These became outlets for the pressure and pain of his home life.

Around 12 years old, he stopped going to school and decided to walk to the town’s central market to beg for money or food. Soon, he quit coming home at all.  

A New Light and Life

After listening to the Bible study sessions and the team members talk about Christ, Gad decided to accept that Jesus was his Savior. What began as small as a mustard seed quickly began to become apparent to others.

Gad’s sour attitude soon faded, and he began to behave more comfortably and kindly around others. He began to visibly enjoy reading the Bible and sharing with the children what he’d read or learned. With the support of the Eh’ikirezi Center, he started a vocational school that will allow him to gain vital job skills and support himself as an adult.

Finally, Gad voluntarily agreed to return to his family to help spread the good news of Christ in the community where he had grown up. When the team last checked on him, he was doing well and a neighbor even commented that the young man seemed like a very different person now.

Gad’s transformation is a living testimony to the capacity for compassion to open people’s hearts to Christ and the great power of God to transform a life.