Davi* met a 13-year-old boy when he was getting the tire of his car fixed. Thiago walked up and asked if he could shine Davi’s shoes. Davi agreed, and struck up a conversation with the boy as he worked. He asked if Thiago had ever drank living water. Thiago had no idea what Davi was talking about but was curious. Davi shared that 34 years ago, he had learnt about the living waters and when he understood what it was, he drank it and found new life and everything he had ever longed for in his heart. Davi offered to lead the boy through a study and at the end of it, he would understand what living water was and how to drink it, just as clearly as he understood how to shine shoes.
Thiago agreed. They arranged a time and Thiago joined in one of the many studies that Davi was leading. Davi used the Portuguese translation of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus and patiently went through it page by page, chapter by chapter. He had to go very slowly as Thiago did not read well. Davi would read some and then explain some. Thiago soaked up every word like a dry sponge.
Over the weeks, Davi learnt that Thiago led a hard life. He was being raised by a woman who was not a relative but she had also helped raise Thiago’s mother. His separated parents lived in other parts of Brazil. Though Thiago was just a child, he worked long hours like an adult and could only spare the evenings for studying.
Thiago was so taken in with the study that he would hound Davi to continue with the book. As Davi reached the climax in chapter 14, he had to stop a lot because he was welling up with emotions as he read the book aloud. Thiago was transforming right before his eyes. Where once the boy’s eyes were dull with hopelessness, now there was light. The boy saw that life came from Jesus, whom the Bible calls “living waters”. At the end of the study, Thiago believed. He was so excited with Jesus. He asked to go to church; he even asked to be baptized.
The day before his baptism, Thiago revealed to Davi that before he believed, his greatest desire had been to end his life. Since neither his mum nor dad wanted him, Thiago found no reason to live. But now with Jesus, he was overflowing with joy.
Davi said, “How many more kids are there out there, whose greatest desire is to end their own life, because of the meaninglessness of their existence? What a joy and privilege it is to be able to share with people how they can drink of living water that satisfies like nothing else.”
We thank God that Davi didn’t just see Thiago as a street urchin wanting to shine shoes for loose change. Instead, he saw a lost, 13-year-old boy in desperate need of Jesus.
(* All names changed as per GoodSeed policy.)
Photo Credit: Alex Barth on flickr