By Winston V. Pinzon
This is a true story about justice, but it is more than justice. It is better than justice; it is Of-God.
His name is Jury Bright, son and only child of Pastor Moises and Cristina Maaghop. The couple is our missionary in Cebu City. One day the family was walking toward home. Home is located in the heart of a depressed area in Cebu City. One moment Jury was following his parents, another moment he was gone. Since they were close to their house Moises and Christina didn’t bother to look for him. They simply assumed that he went to a nearby basketball court and played with some kids. Not long after however, Jury came home with a bloodied face. Blood oozing from his mouth and nose. Stricken with panic and terror, Moises, his voice trembling and hands shaking, managed to ask Jury how he got bloodied. He replied that he was hit by someone. Moises imagined a big man hurt Jury. Without knowing who it was Moises ran outside looking for the man, desperately going from one person to another, trying to know any bit of information that would give a clue to the whereabouts of the reprobate. While he was gone Cristina followed, carrying Jury in her arms. She caught up with Moises and together they went out farther looking for the person who beat Jury. They were pointed to a house where the offender was staying. While this was happening Moises realized they were not able to close the door of their house; inside the house they left their cellphones and their money. This terrified the couple all the more. Praise God, they were not stolen.
When they arrived at the house of the person who victimized the boy, it was the grandmother and the mother who came out. By this time many people were starting to gather around them, intrigued and wondering how the boy got himself bloodied. Others suggested that they rush Jury to the nearest hospital. But the couple stayed and an argument arose between the two sides. The mother said they should not interfere with children’s quarrels. The response of the mother made Moises mad, so mad that he wanted to strangle the woman. But he soon reminded himself to be calm, and so that Cristina, who was in a fighting mood, would control herself too. But she was up for a not-so gentle altercation. The tension in the air was palpable, and stress was swelling in their temple veins.
Moises told the mother that they know what she was saying, but added that they are definitely responsible and liable for the misbehavior of their children. Like Moses of the ancient times bearing the two tablets of Ten Commandments, Moises authoritatively pressed the woman for understanding. “If we exchanged places now would you be able to simply let go of the fact that it was your own son who got beaten up and got bloodied? Would you be able to come to us in a peaceful way like we have done to you now?” The mother was silent. Moises continued encouraging the woman to face her responsibility. He said, “You know “nanay” (mother) if it was my own son doing this to your own son, I would stand up to my responsibility as parent.”
Everybody can see the blood still coming out from Jury’s nose and mouth. Some kind-hearted individuals wiped off the blood from Jury’s face. Finally, Moises decided to bring Jury to a doctor and told the mother that they need to share equally the expenses for medical treatment. The mother replied, almost pleadingly, that they don’t bring the boy to a hospital, that they simply observe Jury—perhaps thinking that the wounds inflicted would simply close up by themselves. Moises replied firmly that he wouldn’t dare take a chance with the life of his beloved son, that he doesn’t agree to simply observe Jury without doing anything about his wounds, that he will bring his son to a hospital, and that if it was her own son who got beaten up by Jury he himself would bring her son to a doctor. But just before he finally went out to go to a hospital, he said that he wanted to see that the mother did her obligation as parent of her child who mauled Jury. He asked for the culprit, but the family refused to bring him out; they hid him. They simply said that their son was around the same age with Jury. Bewildered and still anxious, Moises replied, “I can’t believe your son at such a very young age is able to hurt his fellow human being this way”. The couple finally left and hurried to a hospital. But they also thought of going to the police in order to report the case, but they decided to go to hospital. They spent six hundred pesos for X-ray and medicines.
The following day Moises went back to the parents of the boy who hurt Jury, showed them the receipt of the medical expenses, and challenged them to face up to their responsibilities, or they will have to see each other in the office of the local governing body (Baranggay). The woman responded with controlled but cold tantrum. A neighbor who was hearing the conversation encouraged the woman to help out since it was her son who made the trouble, and that they don’t do things that would worsen the problem. Moises told himself they can do their worst and he was willing to fight to get justice for his son. He still could see the face of Jury—smeared with his own blood, and he was feeling like his heart was being torn to pieces. The mother finally replied that she’ll borrow money. The poor lady didn’t have a job. Her husband worked as a jeepney conductor—a job which earns measly income. Moises was asked to come back the following day.
That night however Moises was haunted by his conscience. He realized it was the Holy Spirit trying to tell him not to demand payment from the poor family. He told Cristina about his realization and wanted to hear what she’d say. But Cristina was still in a fighting mood. She insisted that they need to require payment in order for the family to learn their lesson, and to discipline their child, because it seemed they wanted to tolerate the action of their child.
Moises went back to them the following day. This time he came with two pastors. Pastor Nehemias and Pastor Junrey. It turned out Pastor Junrey knew the father of the child, having worked for him in the past. The parents handed 200 pesos to Moises, who got very elated because finally justice for Jury prevailed.
But Moises was still uneasy. He had no peace. He couldn’t explain the sadness he felt when the started leaving for their own house. He felt like his own heart was whimpering. He was overcome with sorrow. He regretted why he insisted for the payment, why he put them in a very tight situation, why he pushed them against a wall, why did he demand when he knew they were poor like rats in a smelly hole. Moises couldn’t take the fact they had to borrow money to pay for the medical expenses. He knew the Holy Spirit was speaking to him, telling him to return the money and buy them groceries instead. But he wasn’t sure about it because Cristina might not agree with him.
Moises consulted one of his leaders in his community. With this it was confirmed in Moises’ heart that he is being called by the Holy Spirit to love his enemies, to be the light of Jesus in their place, and to feed them with bread. Moises felt liberated. He followed the will of the Spirit. The following day Moises went back to the surprise of the family and the people around them. They thought he was going to ask them for another payment. They were caught totally off guard. Moises returned the 200 pesos and handed them a bag of groceries. Moises told them good-humoredly, “I don’t need them. I have changed. Because now I will ask for something much better. I want us to become friends”. The family and the neighbors were totally amazed.
Grace gives life, joy and freedom—something that justice cannot accomplish.
Before leaving, Moises offered to pray for them. Moises asked God to bless all of them. Right after this they showed the culprit. He was a small boy, about the same age with Jury. Moises won back the people to him, to the neighborhood, to themselves, and to the influence of the kingdom of God. The gospel of Christ has now an open door to the family and the neighborhood. Love covers a multitude of sin indeed. Now Moises, Cristina and Jury Bright can continue to live up to their names. That night they all soundly slept.