Before the paint job

Last year we bought Brent and Tucker new bikes. Two weeks later, Brent’s bike was stolen and subsequently returned. Then again, two weeks ago, it went missing again. After a few days of ‘hoping’ it would turn up, we realized we needed more than hope. Brent and I prayed for the person who stole it, and that God would help us find it. We waited. Another week, nothing.

Then, yesterday Bogdon showed up at our door. For those of you that don’t know the history of the trampoline kids, Bogdon is the “Nicki Cruz” of the neighborhood. Between him and his younger brother Denise, trouble was always right behind them. Their rap sheet is a mile long, and we’ve learned to trust them as far as we could throw them, which is actually quite far because they are very skinny and under fed. Over the course of the last few years, Bogdon and I have come to understand one another. He doesn’t come around much anymore, too cool for the trampoline, and I pick him up around town and give him a lift where he’s going (monitoring his hands closely all the while).

Anyway, Bogdon. As many times he’s been involved in the actual theft or conspiracies therein at our place, he’s been instrumental in locating the goods. He’s not surrendered his life to the Lord, but I’m convinced he has taken steps toward reformation. He’s seen me lose my mind when I caught them red handed with springs from our trampoline, but he’s also enjoyed praise and ice cream when they’ve chosen rightly. I think he sees a difference. I think deep inside is a conscience flickering- there’s hope for that boy!

He shared with me that he saw Brent’s bike. My first thought was, “I’m sure you did see it, you probably stole it!” He then explained to me as best he could with my impaired Russian understanding, that the boy who did in fact steal the bike was Dema, a boy who lives a couple streets over. Dema had spray painted Brent’s black bike into a fiery red special. Dema is an aspiring chop shop artist. He removed the back breaks, changed the grips, and hoped nobody would notice. Ah, but that’s where Dema under-estimated our Nicki Cruz.

Bogdon had helped steal this bike the first time. Ingrained in his mind were the decals under the seat, and the green stripe on the seat. Dema in haste (or lack of money to buy enough paint) hadn’t sprayed enough over the decals, and you could still see the faint original stickers. Bogdon noticed, remembered, and something inside of him knew it was the right thing to tell us.

After bike was stolen and upgraded to Big Red!

I went last night to Dema’s house and saw the red bike. Nobody was home though, and neighbors were watching me closely. I thought, “Oh great, now if I take this bike they will think I’m stealing it…” I decided I would leave it and come back another time, but then the bus stops and out steps a tired looking middle aged women. “Are you Dema’s mother?” I asked. “Yes,” with a sigh of expectation she nodded. It’s as if she knew why I was there. I felt bad for her. I explained what had happened, and showed her the picture of Tucker’s identical bike, the decals and seat and compared it to her son’s new red bike. She just nodded in apathetic acceptance. I wanted to talk to her, pray for her- I felt terrible. I don’t think she knows what to do- no hope. She and her family need the love of Jesus Christ. Pray for them. I hope to re-engage them somehow.

So, thank you, Lord for showing again that you answer prayer. You answer prayer in the strangest of ways too. You use the least likely, and you are working in hearts that don’t appear open. Teach us to abound in love, and use every opportunity to represent you. And thank you for returning Brent’s bike, his new Big Red!

Bruce & Deborah Crowe