Pascal never knew his real dad. And it haunted him. It pursued him. It shaped him.
Even when his mom remarried, Pascal was not accepted by his stepdad. His childhood memories were not fond ones filled with laughter, love and acceptance. They were years of shame, rejection and agonizing loneliness. The nagging questions of “Why did my dad leave? Why didn’t he love me? What is wrong with me?” haunted him continually. Eventually, the stress of it was more than he could bear.
At the age of 14, Pascal left home and walked away from it all. Pascal became homeless – nothing more than a nameless dirty face in the streets of the little island of Zanzibar where he grew up. His new life in this dark world was one filled with never-ending hunger, theft, loneliness, and crippling, debilitating fear.
But God saw. And God had compassion on this lost and hurting soul.
Everyone on the streets knew that to get a good meal and a bed to sleep in at night, you either went to a church or a mosque. Pascal went to a church. He hated it when the church people gave him food and said, “Jesus loves you,” and sometimes he wouldn’t go back for days. But his hunger and want of a warm bed would always win, and he would return. Eventually, the church people’s genuine concern for Pascal’s well-being triumphed, and he gave in to the tugging in his heart from the Holy Spirit saying, “Believe in Me.” The love of Jesus had broken through the hardened walls of loneliness and fear and pain in Pascal’s mind, and he was now a new creation in Christ!
No longer did he feel alone and rejected. He had a new family now. He had been adopted into the family of God! The never-ending fear and cruel question of “Why, why, why did my dad leave me?” no longer haunted him, because it had been replaced with the love of God and peace that passes all understanding.
A few years later, when Pascal was working as a tour guide for foreigners vacationing on his island, he met a couple that were visiting from South Africa during a major festival. After a pleasant conversation, they invited him to stop by their hotel later that day. Since Pascal was working as a tour guide, he assumed that they were tourists and wanted someone to show them around the festival and the island. What he didn’t know was that they were missionaries on a short-term mission trip, and they and all their church in South Africa had been praying fervently that God would guide them to the person they needed to meet on that trip. God had orchestrated this “chance” meeting between Pascal and the missionaries, and it changed his life.
After getting to know Pascal and hearing his story, the missionary couple and their church sponsored Pascal to go to Bible college back in South Africa. While in college, Pascal met his future wife, and they ended up getting married. A desire to reach the gangs and homeless kids in the area kept nagging him though, and he came up with a plan. (to be continued)
Written by Jeff Benedict
Photo © André Kritzinger