Friday, October 2, 2009
Ailton's Story (Jeremy)
Sometimes I think about the movie Teen Wolf. I think about Scott - his affable nature and aptitude to lead and how all of this goes unrecognized by his peers, except, of course, for Boof. Then, everything changes when he transforms into a werewolf that plays basketball. Suddenly, he’s popular - setting dance trends and surfing on top of a van. I’d like to believe that’s real. I’d like to believe that a gymnasium full of high school students could first embrace a werewolf as one of their own and later celebrate him when he chooses to shed his fur in the championship game. I’d like to think that man possesses some innate goodness that we find in these films. But, stories like Ailton’s challenge any notion of that.
Ailton began doing Bible studies and soccer class with us at the beginning of the year. From the outset, we perceived that he is somewhat of a social pariah – even though I cannot tell you why. He’s a good-looking, 17 year-old guy with average intelligence and a genuine likeability. He’s not obnoxious or aggressive – just shy. And yet, everyone seems to revel in picking on him. Younger kids call him names; the older ones try to start fights with him. Jason and I discipline such behavior, but it seems to extend well beyond our class. I’ve tried to connect the dots with some character flaw or socially awkward trait. It’s just not there. The story takes an even sadder turn when you learn that his father was a security guard that was killed in Ailton’s infancy when he attempted to prevent a robbery. I’ve given up waiting for the formulaic 80’s movie clap from his peers that seems to right all wrongs.
Instead, I’m banking on God’s ability to reveal His goodness through broken people and committed discipleship. This is where Ailton’s story takes a turn for good. Jason has started meeting with Ailton individually. They discuss his life, his plans and his relationship with Jesus. Ailton is a believer and learning what it means to be one at the same time. We set up a work/study program in which he is apprenticing a local construction worker in the favella. This translates into a much needed sense of purpose and responsibility. Sure, this is no John Hughes picture. But, there is potential here for much more than that.