I don’t know how to fully express all that still runs through my mind and heart as I recall and reflect on the time we spent in and around the Guatemala City dump.
I don’t really even know where to begin. But every time I think back to that day, Marlon’s powerful testimony and truth-filled words still echo clearly …
As our vans pulled into the vicinity of the dump on the morning of our second day in Guatemala, the first sense immediately affected was smell.
Oh, the smell.
But that would soon become of minor importance as we learned that 11,000 people – 6,500 of them children – live near and work in the dump each day.
I couldn’t imagine a life where getting up in the morning and going to work meant looking through the trash, searching through each new heap left by the seemingly endless stream of dump trucks, in hopes of making dollars a day to provide the most basic needs for my family.
The surrounding community calls those who live this reality “scavengers”, a term filled with negative and judgmental connotations, but Potter’s House – the ministry with which we partnered to serve that day – knows them as “treasures” because they, too, are human beings, God’s highest creation.
Marlon is one of those treasures.
We stood on a cliff overlooking the busy dump as this now 20-year-old with a 9-month-old baby of his own resolutely recounted through a translator from Potter’s House his story of a difficult and heartbreaking background filled with drugs, abuse, violence, life on the streets, and even a pact with the Devil.
But then at some point in the middle of the story, beautiful and overwhelming redemption.
Following his father’s tragic and violent death, Marlon began working in the dump at the age of 6 to provide for his mother and siblings. He ran away for a time during his teenage years, but came back to continue providing for his family and now openly and unashamedly speaks of the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
When asked how we could pray for him, he most selflessly, humbly, and genuinely declined, pointing down at the dump and saying, “No, don’t pray for me. Pray for my friends working down there. I will be ok, but they can’t change this life without Christ. He’s the only way.”
Marlon has a dream for a different life, a dream that includes preaching the message of hope and trust in Christ to a full stadium.
Yet even from the difficult and dangerous life he currently leads as he continues to work in the dump for now, he still proclaims with boldness, directness, and assurance that this life is borrowed and Christ makes all things new.
And in those moments, I caught another glimpse of the Lord’s compassion and love for His people. Seeing with His eyes. Feeling with His heart.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)
To read more about Potter’s House, the Guatemala City dump, and Marlon’s story, check out these posts from my teammates / friends:
The Most Inspiring 20-Something I’ve Ever Met – Jeff Goins
The Shocking Tale of a Brother and Sister – Alene Snodgrass
A Life You Can’t Imagine – Susan Stilwell