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How A Pastor’s Patient Love and the Story of the Prodigal Son Rescued a Young Man in Paraguay

“We are on the outskirts of the city of Itaguá, in a small neighborhood called Las Colinas,” the Every Home team in Paraguay shares, setting the stage for their remarkable story. “It is an unusual neighborhood in terms of its urban design. It has an underground electrical network to the houses and sewage systems with a wastewater treatment plant. The area is clean, and the people are friendly and nice.

“But, not all that glitters is gold.”

Like many communities that appear prosperous, Las Colinas has its share of despair.

“This neighborhood could be an example for some communities, but it has its dark side that wakes up at night,” our team explains.

Drugs — a poison in countless communities around the world.

With Every Home teams serving hundreds of thousands of local believers in over 150 countries, you’ll likely find a local believer partnered with Every Home in every broken and hopeless place. Our mission takes us into the prisons of spiritual bondage, exploitation, and addiction. The love of Jesus calls us there and fills our hearts with a familial, protective, urgent love for every single beating heart. That love also fills us with hope for the redemption of every soul on earth.

Paraguay youth on outreach.

Our team calls the drug trade “the torment of families” and “the fear of parents.”

As in many places in Latin America, Las Colinas has a strong religious presence. Parents are ashamed when their children fall into the trap of drug addiction. Many forbid young people who are using drugs from participating in church activities. Tragically, desperate, hurting people are locked out of the only refuge that can bring them healing and restoration.

Our team, and the local believers who partner with them, work tirelessly to seek out people who have been turned away. They show the love of Jesus to outcasts — a love that’s wide open and running toward them. This love leads them to people like Derlis Mendieta.

Derlis is 19 years old. He used to work as a mason, but he lost his job when businesses shut down due to COVID-19. He resorted to finding work where he could.

What little money he earned, he spent on drugs. At one point, Derlis believed he saw his tattoo “come out of his skin and tell him to do bad things.”

“After a while, he dedicated himself to stealing to get more drugs,” our team shares. He was jailed for drug-related crimes more than six times. Derlis remembers his time in prison with horror.

Derlis wrestled with a tangled web of darkness. The adrenaline rush of crime had him hooked.

“Sometimes, it was not necessary to consume drugs before committing crimes,” Derlis says. “I just needed to do something bad and did it.”

Derlis reading gospel literature.

“Without a doubt,” our team says, “the enemy had Derlis trapped, tormenting him day and night. All these events happened again and again until, one day, he asked for help.

Derlis told our Every Home team that, in his cell, he cried out to God.

“If you exist,” he said, “get me out of here.”

Derlis was released from prison and put under house arrest. There, he had few people to talk to except his neighbor, Pastor Daniel.

One summer afternoon, Derlis approached Pastor Daniel, who lives just behind Derlis’ house. Usually, young people approach Pastor Daniel to ask for money to buy more drugs, but Derlis asked Pastor Daniel to show him the way out, away from the terrors destroying him.

“If you exist,” he said, “get me out of here.”

Pastor Daniel offered to study the Gospel of John with Derlis. The Word of God spoke directly to the suffering and struggles that held Derlis captive, and soon he had turned his heart toward Christ.

“Today, Derlis knows Jesus,” our team says. “He has completely changed. He has stopped using drugs and has new aspirations. We asked him what story moved him the most.”

“The Prodigal Son,” Derlis replied. “I walked just like him. At the worst moment, I asked God to help me, and he did.”

“God is calling me,” Derlis says. “Because if he was not calling me, he would not have taken me out of the dungeon. I want to be a pastor one day. I want to help the kids in the neighborhood who are into drugs.”

Please pray for the young people of Las Colinas. Pray that God would encounter their hearts with hope. Pray that people who profess to be Christians would welcome those who are struggling and need rescue.

May the love of God work mightily through Derlis to transform his community!

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