"Bad Things Are All Around Me"

Some people say that there is nothing to do in Allendale. Manuel would disagree.

I met Manuel (not his real name) in the middle of June. Earlier that day, he decided to go to his grandmother’s house. He was in for an unexpected treat.

Soon after he got to grandma’s, she told him that he was going to join her at a party, which she had been invited to go to. Having no other plans, he went along. That’s where I and other folks from Grace Church met him, and he got to have a great catered dinner.

What would make a teenage boy decide to visit grandma on a Saturday? Nothing else to do. What would make a teenage boy accept grandma’s invitation to party? Nothing else to do. What would make him allow a 35-year old man ask him a bunch of questions? Nothing else to do.

Do you see the theme here?

Manuel is a rising junior, with a solid 3.2 GPA. He’s a stud athlete, being looked at by colleges to play football. Talented for sure, like so many teenagers I know in Greenville. But I don’t know many teens that go into a summer weekend with no plans on the agenda.

When I asked him about what he does with his time, I expected him to respond with the usual “nothing.” But he explained that he spends all his spare time in the weight room; sometimes it’s just him and the coach. Why would he rather do this, instead of just relaxing or being with his friends? Simple,

“There are so many chances to get into trouble. There are bad things all around me.

Here’s a young man who has seen older siblings and friends ruin their lives with choices that were made. One relative, according to Manuel, was on the path to a college scholarship but then threw it all away by getting involved with the wrong crowd his senior year in high school.

So, seeing friends and family destroy their own lives — by doing drugs, or dealing drugs, or being influenced by friends who have given up — he’s determined not to go down that path.

The problem is, according to him, that it is so EASY to do the wrong things. Those bad influences and temptations surround and entice him. Unlike so many of the teenagers from Grace Church that I know, he is not surrounded by encouraging friends, safe environments, and a plethora of opportunities.

He’s going to have to work hard to stay on the right path. And I hope he will. It’s the choices that he makes every day — in every battle — that will determine the potential for his life.

Edit: See how this guy learned to Drive, Recognize, Pursue.

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  1. After the Ministry Triage « Mission: Allendale - January 17, 2012

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