When Nelson Araúz was 13 years old, his mother left him and his three younger brothers in the care of their father who struggled to manage the family alone. As the oldest child, Nelson stepped up to raise his siblings and found some help from Project JOEL, the youth program of LHM—Panama.
The family of five moved from the Chiriquí Province near the border of Costa Rica to the town of New Libya, which is a place of extreme poverty.
“At thirteen years old, all this was too difficult for me,” said Nelson. “But God never abandoned me. I cannot explain how, but we always had food and a roof, although we had great moments of need.”
Professor Torres, the principal at Nelson’s new school, saw this need and invited the boys to Project JOEL. “She introduced me to Franco, Joseph, and Gabriel, who are now my best friends and brothers in Christ.” The professor helped Nelson and his brother pay school fees, and some of his new friends helped him from their own pockets. These acts of kindness have made a world of difference in Nelson’s life, and the lives of his brothers.
“My two youngest brothers learned to read memorizing the story of Red Boots for Christmas,” Nelson said. “I’m convinced that the program moved me away from all the bad things and risks on the streets. But most importantly, it led me to approach the Bible, faith, and prayer.”
Today, Professor Torres boasts of Nelson as one of her most successful students. He is currently a 22-year-old college student who works emergency room of Santo Tomas Hospital and plays in the church band. Nelson hopes to someday become a missionary for Christ. He is still involved with Project JOEL, and represented the program last year in parades and national celebrations.
“My life has faced many changes,” Neslon said. “God has done great things for me.” Please keep Nelson and his family in your prayers.