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Take Christ, Not Drugs!

Juliana Marin


When you’re choosing a solution for life’s heavy problems, carefully consider these Bible verses:
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, . . . and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29, 30).
“From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1, 2).
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

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by Juliana Marin

Had Andrew been kidnapped—or worse?

 “Where’s Andrew?”*

I cringed. My boss had asked that question too many times already this week. Andrew was a cool guy, one of the best teachers we had at English Learning Power Center, but he’d failed to show up for work once too often. 
The other teachers and I apologized to Andrew’s students and maneuvered our classes around to include them somehow. We were becoming pros at that.
“Have any idea what happened to Andrew?” Walker whispered to me during break.
“None,” I whispered back. “Have they called his house?”
“Yeah. His wife hasn’t seen him for five days.” 
I stared at Walker, immediately imagining the worst. “You mean that he’s disappeared?” I live in Medellín, Colombia, and though it’s become much safer in the past few years, Colombia has a reputation for being the kidnapping capital of the world. “Hasn’t his wife called the police? Isn’t she worried sick?” 
Walker shrugged. “It isn’t that kind of disappeared, Elizabeth.”
I didn’t get it, but I didn’t say anything. At age 16 I was the youngest teacher ever at the center, and there was a lot about the grown-up world I didn’t know yet. Or want to know. 
“Andrew has . . . problems, Elizabeth,” Walker said. 
“What do you mean, problems?” I asked. But just then the bell rang to go back to class. 
I tried to concentrate on my students. Most of them were professionals, much older than I, who were struggling to grasp this language that would open so many doors for them. In Colombia these days, English is an indispensable tool, a way for people to rise above the poverty in which most have been raised. I was so fortunate to have been born into a bilingual family, granddaughter of North American missionaries. Just by knowing English, I could basically have any job I wanted, reach nearly any dream I chose. It was a major step toward success.
I was working the latest shift that day. I said goodbye to Walker, who had to finish some paperwork before closing up, and hurried down the dark and empty street, trying to reach the streetlight at the corner as soon as possible.
The center wasn’t exactly in a safe place, especially after 9:00 p.m. 
Suddenly a man-shaped shadow detached itself from a wall a few feet ahead of me. I jumped, wondering wildly whether I should run back in the direction I’d come from or try to run past him into the lighted, busier street.
I ran past him.
“Hey, stop! Wait, Elizabeth; it’s me!”
I skidded to a stop directly under the streetlight, next to rushing cars. What in the world? Who was this guy? How did he know my name? 
The man stumbled into the light. He was unshaved, his hair was matted, his clothes were torn, and he was caked with filth. He was also obviously high on drugs.
“I need help,” he said in English. This was crazy. What was a street person doing speaking English? That just didn’t happen. Suddenly I recognized him.
“Andrew,” I said softly. “What happened?” 
“Look, I’m sorry. It ain’t my fault. I jus’ couldn’t help it. I needed ’em, see? I need the drugs. They make me happy, ya know? I need ’em, I need ’em.”
That’s when I finally understood what everyone else had been keeping from me about Andrew. 
“This kind of disappeared,” I said softly. Andrew didn’t even notice. He kept rambling, and from his garbled phrases I managed to understand that he wanted money and that he needed to talk to Walker. 
I knew enough not to give him any cash, since he would just spend it all on more drugs. But I went to get Walker. As I explained the situation, Walker sighed and looked up from the tests he was grading. 
“I thought so,” he said finally. “Now you understand?”
I nodded.
Walker sighed again. “Such a shame. He’s got so much to offer.” He pushed his chair back and looked out through the window into the starry night sky. He and Andrew were such good friends that this must be really hard for him.
Then Walker shook his head with another sigh, coming back to reality.
“I have to finish these papers before I can go, because I have to lock the place up,” he told me. “Tell Andrew I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”
I returned to Andrew, who was waiting in the shadows. He thanked me, his eyes unnaturally bright. 
“You want something to eat, Andrew?” I asked on impulse. He’d been living on the streets, after all. “There’s a woman who sells arepas de queso [cheesy corn cakes] on the corner.” 
He merely nodded. 
We both walked to the corner, where streetlights shone brightly. The woman glared at Andrew suspiciously but bit back her words when she saw me reach for my purse.
Andrew kept talking as he wolfed down a cheesy corn cake ravenously, telling me how sorry he was, how he missed his wife, how he used to go to church. 
The woman watched us with round eyes, and even passersby slowed down to stare. I guess it must have been strange to see a tramp speaking English. I’m sure that more than one thought, not without some envy, that if they knew English, they would be something other than a street person.
Walker rounded the corner, looking for Andrew. 
“It ain’t my fault, ya know,” Andrew muttered. “It ain’t my fault.”
I gripped his shoulder as I stood up to leave. “Take care, Andrew,” I said softly. “I hope to see you again sometime.”
But I never did. I don’t know what became of Andrew. None of us do. Is he still out there somewhere sucking white powder under a bridge? Has he been killed by now? Or has there been a miracle? 
I hope so, Andrew. You had so much to give. You’re missed. 
You were so sorry you’d ever started . . . yet you wouldn’t take any steps to get help with quitting. I know that you were sad and you had problems. But drugs weren’t the only way out, you know. 
You kept saying it wasn’t your fault, Andrew, but you’re wrong. You did have a choice. You didn’t have to start. And you didn’t have to continue. 
 Oh, Andrew, if you’re still out there, it’s not too late to make a better choice. Choose Christ, choose life. Do it now! 
*All names have been changed.

Juliana Marín’s hobbies include reading, writing, working with clay, and studying history. She writes from Medellín, Colombia, South America.

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