The worst day of our entire ministry on the bridge was when we took the boys to a park area (Volunteer’s Park,) next to the river and were playing games and chatting with them. After a while, we became aware that some of the boys had disappeared and sadly we easily located them sniffing glue in a concealed area nearby. They tried to deny it, but I had seen them doing it. Reuben even joined them after I warned him that he would be excluded from the meal later. The boys then came out from their location and there was an equal split in terms of who had (Simon, Luke, Joshua, Reuben) and hadn’t taken solvents (Joel, Paul, Adam, Mark.)
The ones who had taken the drugs were mingling with the others, but we explained that, because they had done this, they weren’t allowed to come to the evening meal. Luke became really upset whilst I was talking, and having taken a book out of his pocket, he slowly and deliberately began tearing pages out of it and throwing the pieces in the river. I saw that it was one of our books: “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”
At this point, I told the “good” boys that it was time to leave, as I wanted to get them away from the obvious temptations, and I could feel that something was about to boil over as the atmosphere was tense. As we started to leave, the “bad” boys followed us and tried to stop us from leaving. They were blowing solvents in the faces of those who hadn’t taken any, and were calling us names and using bad words. They were inhaling heavily from bags that they produced from hidden pockets in their clothes. They followed us up the street as we tried to get away.
What happened next reminds me of something from a movie. I told the boys that were drug-free to speed up, so we walked single file at a rapid pace. The boys on drugs rushed along beside us and around the other boys, enticing them to take the solvents and swearing and shouting. Reuben shouted for me to look as he threw the flip flops I had recently bought him onto the roof of a building. The others copied him and also threw things we had given them on rooftops. This was getting out of control, as the boys were getting high on the solvents. They blocked our way and deliberately bumped into us as we tried to make good our escape. The local people looked on and wondered what on earth was going on, but maybe due to fear, did nothing to help us.
We were heading for the usual evening meal location, but I knew we would struggle to reach it without serious problems. As we were practically running now, I ran into a man that I knew from a local church, which was en route, and he invited us to take shelter in his church. We did this, running up the steps and into the main church building where many people sat. The other boys chased us up the stairs and squared up to us in the hallway. They were blowing their drugs around and using foul language. The church security officers escorted them outside. I had to specify which boys were with me and which were not. It was really a terrible situation. Outside we could hear them shouting and cursing, and they were specifically shouting personal things about me. We stayed in the church for a while and eventually, when we thought it would be safe to leave, we left with some security who escorted us across the road to the evening meal.
I was really shaken by what had happened and, as soon as we were inside, the boys appeared at the metal gated doorway shouting obscenities at me. I couldn’t look at them and stood with my back to the door. Then it was all too much, and I burst into tears as I stood there, wondering what on earth to do. The good boys ate in silence, as they also hated the division and were torn in their loyalties. The bad boys were quieter, but blew solvents through the door. When the other boys went over towards them, they waved their hands around and enticed the others, as if they could cast a spell on them saying, “Come and join us, it’s fun out here. You know you want to.” It was really evil, but the boys inside didn’t see it like that. They just thought it was funny and were laughing with them. This was one of the only times where I really felt the presence of evil through these boys and the drugs they were inhaling, and I knew that it was the devil who had hold of their lives.
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