God Moves in Mysterious Ways
by: Bill Oliver | October 16, 2017
After ten years of marriage and many physical difficulties, our first child was born, a son we named Hans. What a blessing, but our prayers didn’t stop; we wanted another. Two and a half years later, another prayer answered with a daughter named Heather, another great joy and blessing. Still in our mid-thirties, we continued to pray for a larger family, but His decision was a family of four.
Our two children grew into young adults, off to college, into their profession and families of their own. Now we were in our mid-seventies. Little did we know that was when the family would increase in size. It was a boy! This one, however, did not arrive at the hospital but at the airport, via a long swim across the Rio Grande River. To get to us he had taken a month’s journey from El Salvador to Mexico and then into the United States. And after “the swim,” apprehension by U. S. Immigration.
A young guy of seventeen, from a family of six boys and who almost never left the small island where he lived. A very humble dwelling where the cooking was done over an open fire, no electricity, and no running water. Rough tree logs held the roof of the open-walled dwelling. I was at this home with a group of students from Harding University. The mother was preparing a dinner for the students so they could experience how “poverty” lived!
The father of the “swimmer” told me that he had to ask his son to leave home because the gang MS13 had made serious threats against his life because he had refused to join the gang. In order to be a member he would have to kill someone or do an equally tragic crime.
Fatherly tears streamed down weathered cheeks as he told me how difficult it was to direct his son to leave. However, he had to protect the other five children and the mother against the gang. (MS13 is known throughout the world as being one of cruelest killing gangs anywhere.)
Trying to comfort, I told the father, IF I could find him when I returned to the states, and IF I could do anything I would. More tears and the father’s last words to me, “I probably will never see my son again!”
Quique, the son who left, departed his home in El Salvador, walking, as father, mother, and five brothers stood stunned and silent. A seventeen-year old alone, for a journey with seemly no end. Since he had refused to join MS13, they had threatened his life and he knew they would kill him as they had so many. He walked, rode when he could catch a ride, had little money in his pocket, little to eat, and his only companions were shadows of the unknown.
By the time he got to Mexico he had hidden in the back of trucks with no fresh air, had to lay flat in a pick-up truck so he would not be seen, with two or three others on top of him. When night came he would travel, when day arrived there was no place to sleep, except in the slums.
In Mexico, often times he would hear the gun shots of the Cartel next to where he was hiding. Approached by the Cartel with additional threats on his life, he used skills beyond his years to gain favor and his life. During the nights, the “fireworks” were very visible from gunfire and fighting.
Finally, time to embrace the muddy cold waters of the Rio Grande, to swim hopefully to total freedom from MS13, the Cartel, and those who had robbed him of what little money he had. One month had passed since walking away from home. Now, maybe, just maybe, a safe life. Wrong! First swim, with a “new” friend on his back because he could not swim, he was almost across. STOP! Reverse swim, return to Mexico; immigration officers on the banks of the United States. More time in Mexico, more days without food, more life threats and perpetual gunfire. Second swim, successful, but quickly apprehended by Immigration Officers. Incarcerated in a camp for minorities. Sent to New York.
Fulfilling the promise I had made to his father, I located him and through court petitions and motions, he was given permission to be in our custody, in our home. God had answered our prayer when we were seventy-four years old and gave us the son of an El Salvadorian family—a strange answer to prayers from forty years earlier. However, God in his wisdom gave us the son of another to love and to guide. We became a substitute family, and we loved it!
We put Quique in a Christian school in Little Rock, Arkansas, near where we lived and took him to church. He quickly learned English and excelled in his school work. Soon he was baptized into Christ. Eventually he graduated as an honor student, was a dedicated volunteer worker in our community, and continues to serve as a young man full of love and hope.
Never hiding from the government, always following the rules of the court, but eventually we were told he would have to return to El Salvador. I knew the dangers on his life and so couldn’t accept the court’s decision. Wrote the President of the United States asking for help and help arrived in time to let him stay here legally. Our letter to the President was one out of 10,000 selected for the President to read. “God moves in mysterious ways.”
Three months ago Quique married a wonderful Christian woman now studying to be a doctor and is working toward the next steps to stay in this country as a citizen. I am praying for that to happen, and I ask you to do the same.
It is good news that a Christian family was willing to accept a young man into their midst, to treat him as a son, and to work with him to use legal means to seek to get him on a citizenship track. They have done so much for him. There are so many good ways to serve the Lord.