I'm gonna start at the beginning when Mr. M. was born. It was a cold winter day, when resources were scarce but hopes were not. He was born to a family of immigrants, first generation to be born in the United States. His parents worked in agriculture, working when harvest was plentiful and saving for when it was not. They lacked health insurance, sick time, vacation days and all those things many of us take for granted. But they made do, and life was good. As Mr. M got older he could be found on many afternoons playing out in the orchards free from all the cares of the world.
The harvest was bountiful and the valley was thriving, but it wouldn't always be so.
We fast forward to when Mr. M is seven and now living in the city, on S. 7th St. He is one of the few spanish speaking children in his school, there is inequality and confusion about this group of people who come (mostly seasonally to the area) to harvest the crops.
And this is how it went in the years that followed: Mr. M's mom and dad working long hours, and different shifts to make ends meet and be somewhat available for him and his brother.
The crop began to decline, work was scarce and things were hard.
Adversity came a knocking harder than ever before.
His neighborhood became filled with poverty; parents often working swing or graveyard shifts and many youth who were hungry for attention and bored to death at home turned to drugs, gangs and violence. All searching for a sense of belonging. All searching to be "somebody".
All of this became Mr. M's reality, no more make-believe on sunny afternoons out in the orchards, but drugs, gangs and violence took their place instead. And so, many years passed and life didn't get any better. Many friends were lost along the way, and many were changed in irreversible ways.
As Mr. M. reached rock bottom it seemed that nothing or no one could reach him.
But when we least expect it, and when we think we have gotten too far from reach, that's when Creator pushes harder to grasp a hold of our hearts and speak truth into our lives. All the lies that had been feed to and believed by Mr. M. were shattered in a moment of Truth. Jesus came into his life and helped him understand that he was destined for greater things. Jesus told him: "follow me and I will show you that you are part of my BIG story. Your LITTLE story is part of my BIG story!". And it was then Mr. M. reached for the Truth and broke free of the chains of death. But not through his own strength rather through the love of our Maker. And finally Mr. M. understood how he was made in our Creator's image: with his charismatic personality and his love for people. He no longer needed to be in control, and to pursue status or power. The Love of Creator would bring a greater sense of self than any of these things ever would.
Its been more than seven years since then, and each day we see how our LITTLE stories are a part of God's BIG story. That story of love for His people.
This month we are celebrating a piece of Mr. M.'s Little story! He graduated from Warner Pacific College with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and will be receiving his diploma this weekend! We are so proud of him, and understand that this is all possible because of our Creator who has made Mr. M. in His image. Yes, in the image of the one who Loves us, and wants more for this hurting world. And that is what Mr. M. hopes to do, to go out into the world and use his degree to care and love those in need. Because Creator so loved him.