Their family of four children also includes Andrea, the youngest, and Jean Carlos, who is an integral part of the worship team and youth group of the family’s home congregation of Iglesia Menonita Encuentro de Renovacíon y Restauracíon, in Barranquilla, Colombia.
Edwin stood in front of his church family one Sunday and shared the pain that he and Jazmin felt when their second special needs child was born. Edwin was convinced that he had done something to cause his children to be born with disabilities. He had family members who were witch doctors, and he thought that perhaps God was sending their punishment on his children. Or perhaps God was punishing him for his earlier life as a partier.
The pain and hardship their children endured early in their lives caused a rift in the parents’ spiritual lives. At first they were angry and disappointed with God. Slowly however, they began to see that God could, and would work through this situation.
Edwin told about the day Edwin Davíd sat on his father’s lap after school and asked with childhood innocence, “Daddy, why did God make me the way that I am?”
When Edwin repeated his son’s question to the church, you could hear almost everyone in the sanctuary gasp. How could you possibly explain something like God’s goodness and mercy to the child whom you love with your whole heart when it’s something that you yourself don’t fully understand? However, God gave Edwin the words to speak. He told his son that he loved him just the way that he was, and that he should never feel ashamed. God had a beautiful plan for his life, and he had been given a chance to show people God’s love in new and different ways.
This seemed to be enough for Edwin Davíd, because he has never stopped loving. I know firsthand that whenever anyone walks into the church, Edwin Davíd is there to greet them with a great big hug! He loves to love. He has no shame, or embarrassment. He just loves. During worship he claps, dances, sings, and lifts his arms up to the God who created in him a wholehearted ability to love others.
Edwin invited his son to join him at the front of the sanctuary to share a song for the congregation. He was a little shaky at the beginning, but slowly gained confidence. Soon Edwin Davíd was singing of God’s love and mercy and with every fiber of his being. It was obvious he believed the words that he was singing. He was singing about his own story, sharing it as an offering to the church, and lifting it up to God.
About halfway through the song, others started singing along, with tears in their eyes. Edwin Davíd was no longer afraid. His story was at the heart of church and its members. He was not going through life alone. He had no need to worry about not having support. As I watched and listened, I saw the church become a part of Edwin Davíd’s story as many voices joined in. I heard the church lift up their collective story of love and of mercy to God as an offering.
I ask you to remember Edwin Davíd and his family in your prayers, that he may never stop loving the way he does.
Scott Litwiller was a church youth worker for Mennonite Mission Network in Barranquilla, Colombia, in 2012 and 2013. He moved to Tiskilwa, Illinois, where he is program director for Menno Haven Camp and Retreat Center and attends Willow Springs Mennonite Church.