I barely knew him, and yet, I cannot get the picture of his face out of my head.
It's the smile and the twinkle in his eyes.
And without really knowing him, I can say with certainty, that the face I see in my mind is one filled with the light of Jesus.
Benjamin Shapiama Arevalo was taken from this world last night, the night of February second.
He was on his way home from ministering to people who looked up to him and adored him.
Teenagers, who have already seen more and dealt with more than most people should ever have to face in their life.
On his way home to his wife and son, he was caught in a crossfire of sin, and was hit by a bullet.
As I have thought about his life, videos and pictures have played over and over in my head.
Like I mentioned before, I was only fortunate enough to meet them a few times, but every image and video playing in my head is of him being silly with the kids and embracing the joy of Jesus.
I almost feel like I'm there again, as we sit on the concrete floor of the pavilion, sweating. Benjamin and Damaris set up the puppet show stage, and then Benjamin starts the show. The silly voices come from behind the curtain and all of the kids start to laugh and enjoy a story that points them to the love of Jesus.
I'm back in Burger King, three years ago, watching him talk to Julio about how much they desire to do the Lord's work when they leave Seteca. They want to serve God and they want to be wherever HE wants them to be. They don't know yet if that will be La Arenera.
I see the pictures of him with our kids from the farm. Always smiling. Always joyful. Always living Jesus' truth in his interactions with the kids. Not always the popular kids, but often the kids who needed it most.
Selflessly and joyfully.
It's hard when someone like that is taken from this earth and we are left with the thought, "Why?"
Why someone so on fire for Jesus? Why someone who was making such a difference in the lives of so many kids? Why someone who was a father and an amazing husband? Why someone who was a ministry partner to people who needed him. Why?
And I don't know the answer, but all I can think about today, as I continue to see flashes of his smile in my mind, is that his desire in life was to make Jesus known to all.
He wanted everyone to know Jesus.
And so, in his memory, what can we do?
What can our teenagers and kids at the farm do as they process the loss of their dear friend and mentor?
We can do what I believe he would do during this time.
We can take his story and his love for Jesus and we can share it.
He would not want the recognition.
He would want the glory to go to Jesus.
So Miguel, Fabricio, Byron, Carlos, Alejandra, Deimy, Katerin, Zebra, Dulce, Armando, Alejandro, Jackeline, Gerson, Roxy Poo, Paty, Vanessa, Diego, and all of you who knew Benjamin: Go to your neighbors, and to those who have heard about this tragic death on the news, and tell them about Jesus.
Tell them what your friend Benjamin told you.
Tell your neighbors and friends about the love of Jesus, and do it with the joy that Benjamin had.
Joy that came from the Lord.
May we all strive to live a life worthy of the calling we have received like Benjamin did.
I believe that Benjamin was greeted up in Heaven last night with compassionate words from our Savior, "Well done my good and faithful servant. Well done."
Benjamin - "Since I was 17 years old I have dedicated my life and my strength to serving God full time. To date He has not failed me and I am sure he will never fail. What do you expect to work for the creator of the world?"
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, remain strong and constant. Always work for the Lord with enthusiasm, because you know that nothing you do to the Lord is useless." 1 Corinthians 15:58