By Charles Kaye
It was our second day in Granada. With no food, water or electricity in our house, we wandered into the city for lunch. As we were finishing our meal, I looked down and saw a young boy who had crawled across the floor to our table. With tattered clothes and covered in dirt, he looked up at me, mouth open like a little bird, begging for food. In our limited Spanish, we asked him to wait outside. When we left the restaurant with our leftovers, there he was. Me llamo Carlitos, I told him (it means little Charles, and at 66, its meant to get a laugh), and gave him our food. And thus begins an incredible story.
After that day, two or three times a week I would run into this little boy. He would call out, Carlitos, drawing me in with his wonderful crooked smile, and once with a dead pigeon he wanted to sell. Sometime s I gave him money, sometimes food and sometimes nothing but a promise of manana.
Over the next months, we came to learn that his name was Marvin and that he was homeless, sometimes sharing a cardboard box with other family members in a vacant lot. We also came to realize that he was a drug addict, was actually fifteen years old (but is the size of my nine year-old son), and for some reason was drawn to me, as I was to him. It turns out that everyone in town knew Marvin, and they all said the same thing, Marvin es malo; es loco (Marvin is bad; hes crazy). He was considered hopeless.
After several months, my children came to me with a contract they had drafted. The contract said that because Marvin was using the money for drugs, we would should just give him food. It was hard to argue with their wisdom, so I began to ask God to show us how we could help Marvin. God shared that I needed to get on my knees, which had already had six operations, in front of Marvin and pray for him. God said that if I did this I would see a miracle.
I asked several friends to pray that I would have the courage to do this and admitted that I was afraid. Afraid, because God told me that I needed to tell Marvin all this. Afraid that I would pray and nothing would happen. Then Marvin and others would see what a fraud I was or what a fraud of a God we have. I continued to see Marvin for the next couple of months, gave him food and occasionally money and kept praying for God to show me how to help him, while avoiding having to kneel in front of Marvin and pray.
In April, I stopped seeing Marvin. I found myself really missing him and starting to worry about what might have happened to him. I was also feeling convicted that I hadnt obeyed God. A few weeks ago, I saw Marvins mother. She signaled by holding her hands together, as if they were cuffed, that Marvin was in jail. I was thrilled to know that Marvin was OK. She asked me to help him. Later that day, she came to our house with a picture of Marvin. On the back she had scrawled Para Carlito. That night, I prayed to God and asked him what I should do. Once again, He told me that I needed to get on my knees in front of Marvin and pray. As I was praying, I looked at that picture of Marvin and the caption on the back, and finally my heart broke.
It took the help of several Christian friends and about a week to find Marvin. We discovered that he was in one of the worst jails, confined in a 6ft x 8ft cell with three other prisoners and that the cell had no electricity or running water, only a hole in th e floor. Two weeks ago, I got a chance to visit Marvin at the jail. Eric, the music director at our church, went to help translate. We had an interesting talk. Marvin told us that he had been thinking about Jesus and wanted to change his life. I let him know a little about my life and how Jesus had changed me.
We also told Marvin that there was a place called Hogar Crea where he could go for help, assuming we could get him out. My promise to him was that if he agreed to go, my family would be his sponsor and that we would visit him and pray for him. I also let him know that dozens of people both here in Nicaragua and the States were praying for him. He agreed to go.
I shared with Marvin that God had told me to get on my knees in front of him and pray, and if I did that, I would see a miracle. I also told him that sometimes it was hard to trust God and that I had been afraid to do this. I made it clear to Marvin that regardless of how I felt, I wanted to obey God. So I asked Marvin if I could do as God asked and also if he would pray with me to invite Christ into his life. Again he said yes.
We were sitting on the asphalt, so I lay down in front of him (God spared my knees), held his feet and we prayedfor Marvin and for him to invite Christ into his life. As we finished praying, Eric told Marvin that we were his friends and that we cared for him. Marvin started crying, and we hugged and cried together. Eric told me later that when he looked up he saw one of the prison guards crying.
After that, things accelerated at a pace that only God could orchestrate. It turns out that Erics cousin is the Director of Hogar Crea for all of Nicaragua. This past Monday, he submitted a petition to the court to have Marvin released into the custody of Hogar Crea. The next day, the judge responded that she would be receptive to this. Hours later I was sitting in the judges office (I found out later that getting an audience with a judge is unheard of). The judge asked to hear about the plan to move Marvin. At the end, she agreed to release Marvin if I would sign for him. I did.
This past Wednesday, a team picked up Marvin and drove him to Hogar Crea, where he will spend the next sixteen months. After dropping Marvin off, as I was getting ready to leave, I prayed for him and gave him a big hug. I told Marvin I loved him. He hugged me back and said, Gracias, Carlitos. We both broke down and started crying. Marvin is a new creation.
“Carlitos” and his family moved to Nicaragua from Virgina last fall. God has called them to serve the needs of the churched and the unchurched there. His last job was as a hedge fund manager.