We’ve all had that perfect picture photo bombed by someone. Their mere presence changes the photo entirely. Today, while visiting the home of Fransisco and Monica, we had an unexpected and frightening photo bomb.
As we sat with Fransisco and Monica, we were having a normal Compassion visit, but something was different. Something was off. There was a heaviness to the house as we walked in and saw 18 year old Gabriella, lying under a sheet on the bed. She was that person in the back of the photo who was not supposed to be there. We assumed she was either shy or sick–neither of which is out of the norm on these trips.
The picture appears to show a shy or sick girl, in the background covered by a blanket. End of story.
However, what the picture fails to show is what the sheet is hiding and what is tearing at the heart of this mother and father. Gabriella is sick, but not with malaria or typhoid. Gabriella is addicted to drugs, and what the picture doesn’t show is that she is chained by the ankle to the bed.
These are not bad parents abusing their child like we have seen recently in the news. These are parents who are at their rope’s end, trying desperately to save the life of their daughter who runs away to get drugs. She has been in this state for a few days going through withdrawals.
Fransisco was reluctant to share what was going on with is daughter. He is a strong, godly man who grieves for the choices his daughter has made. It almost seemed to bring an extra level of shame, that there were all of these people from America who had come to see them, and this was the state of his family.
I was so thankful that God put me there so I could look Fransisco in the eye and tell him there was nothing to be embarrassed about. Our God is a God of second chances, and I stand before him as living proof that people with addictions can be restored and that God can even use our flaws to carry His message of hope and restoration to others.
I think it might have been one of the longest and most heartfelt prayers I have ever prayed. The feeling in the room shifted from one of heaviness and heartache to a feeling of hopefulness and healing.
A single tear in the corner of Fransisco’s eye told me he was relieved to finally share what just moments ago felt shameful and unsharable.
This was neither a typical day nor a typical Compassion visit, but God’s hand was all over this moment.
We were not there to meet Gabriella. We were there to meet her younger sister who is part of the Compassion program, but I am so thankful for this photo bomb because this family needed a different kind of help and encouragement. And today, they got it.
Fransisco and his wife are so thankful for the godly influence Compassion has had on their other children, as the older ones all know Christ, and are not headed down the same road as their sister.
That’s the kind of difference you make in a child’s life when you sponsor them through Compassion and give them hope today.