Every classroom has that one special child – the one who tests the limits of your patience and mercy as if it’s their God-ordained calling to raise your blood pressure.
At the El Camino Sunday school in La Independencia, Peru, that child was Adiel.
Last year when Cross staff visited this small but impactful ministry, 3-year-old Adiel was shoving his classmates. We learned from his teacher that the little boy had a reputation for pushing, kicking and biting other children and that he would commit these acts with no remorse. The other kids called him “El niño que pega,” which is Spanish for “the child who hits.” One time he even slapped the teacher. On another occasion he spit on the teacher’s face! But rather than give up on this troubled child, the ministry team repaid his slaps and shoves with love, patience and the Gospel.
The strategy worked.
This year Cross staff returned to El Camino and encountered a completely different Adiel. He was calm, he stayed in his seat during the lesson, and when the teacher asked him who his best friend was, Adiel pointed to all of his classmates and said, “Everyone here.” Of course he still makes mistakes, but in contrast to last year, he feels remorse for those mistakes and asks for forgiveness. During the visit, Adiel even initiated an act of kindness toward a girl who had fallen behind on an art project. She was having trouble cutting figures out of paper, so he grabbed a pair of scissors and helped her finish.
That small demonstration of neighborly love was a reminder of how God’s Word changes lives. No child is ever too far gone to be saved. Even a simple Sunday school program can alter the trajectory of a child’s life from violence and delinquency to peace and faith. God has a great future in store for Adiel and all the El Camino kids!