TUESDAY TESTIMONIALS! MONCHEZ CONTINUED
Go here to read the 1st installment of this story.
Quinn directed me where to go. We pulled up in front of an uninhabitable apartment building with all the windows broken out. It was a building used unquestionably for questionable activities. It was winter, the days were very short-- dusk was descending .....................
He went in to get some of his things or so he said. I don't know how long I sat there but it must have been close to 30 minutes. The dusk was really settling in. I have to admit that for a split second I was tempted to leave. But I couldn't. Rita had entrusted her nephew into my care. I was responsible for him now. With uncertain resolve I got out of the car to walk up to the building, go in, and retrieve him.
I got about halfway across the beaten down, brown winter grass when the door opened and out walked Quinn with another young man. Simultaneously, a middle-aged man leaned out of a second-story broken window, yelled at me and said, "He's not going with you so you might as well leave." In my bravest and strongest school-teacher voice I retorted, "Oh, yes, he is. I am not leaving without him." I couldn't believe that voice came from me.
Quinn and his friend paused at the sound of the man's words and then sauntered on across the yard. I thought at the time that this young friend in a hooded jacked was walking funny in his over-sized sagging pants. I would find out much later the reason for the odd gait. They walked over to the car and after a quick introduction, he asked me if his friend, Kris, could go with us. I acquiesced, even though I highly suspected they had been doing drugs and Kris seemed to be stoned.
The older man leaned out of the window again and yelled, "Here, you might need this." A knife landed a yard or so away from my feet. Thank God neither one of them picked it up.
When we got back to Rita's house, I asked Quinn if I could speak to Kris for a few minutes. We talked about his life for some time. He told me of some of his past gang activities--things really too bad to repeat--he voiced his doubts that God could or would ever forgive him for some of his horrendous actions. I assured him of God's faithful forgiving nature. God's power was able to reach beyond the effects of the drugs and touch this young man's heart.
I asked him if I could pray with him and for him. He was very receptive. I don't remember the exact words but the prayer went something like this. "Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for the opportunity to talk to Kris," --at that point a weak and emotional voice interrupted me and said, "Monchez."
"Monchez? What do you mean?"
"My name is Monchez, he said."
I think I stopped mid-sentence and stammered something like, "Monchez, Oh, you are Monchez?" And through tears, "Oh, Monchez, I was just praying for you last night." I don't know how I made it through the rest of the prayer as the realization of God's amazing power suddenly permeated my thinking.
I suppose Monchez used an alias with me that evening because he was highly sought after by the police at that particular point in time. But it touched my heart deeply that he trusted me enough to tell me his real name. Trust is not something that comes easily with gang members. Although looking back at the situation now, I think it was coming before the throne of God that made him admit to his real identity. He could not honestly expect God to help him if he was going to come dishonestly before Him.
The next week Monchez was arrested by the police. There is a part of me that will always believe he wanted to get arrested. Of course, I will never know that for sure but I know from years of working in the projects that the street life is not easy.
I made several trips to the county jail to see him before he was carted off to prison at the ripe old age of 18 years. At one such meeting he said, "Woman, (he always called me woman) I thought you were crazy. Did you know I had a loaded sawed-off shot gun in my pants the day I got in the car with you?" --the reason for the odd walk--
I wish I could say that this story had a happy ending. I can't because I honestly don't know for sure what happened to Monchez. The last time I saw him was when I took a member of his family to see him at the first prison where he was incarcerated.
The point of the story--how faithful God was to answer a simple but heartfelt plea. I prayed one night for a young gang member I had never seen or heard of before. The next afternoon he was in my car saying a prayer. Every time I retell this story, I feel like I am fabricating. It still feels surreal to me. But God's power is not surreal and He wants to prove it to us every day that we live.
"Oh God, I love it when you take my breath away with answers to prayers such as this. But I also love it when you just keep answering my same old "day in and day out" prayers in such a faithful and trustworthy fashion. I do not take those answers to prayer lightly. I am consumed with gratitude."
I did use one real name in this story. Can you guess which one? Yes, Kris is the one because it is the alias name that Monchez used that evening. It was an alias then and used as real now. What irony!