This is Jitter.
Jitter is 9 years old and lives next door to us with his Dad, Grandma, his sister, his uncle, his cousin and a handful of other adults in a small house without running water or a bathroom. Those names are not necessarily factually correct, but just what Jitter calls those people. In reality, the “dad” is really his grandma’s boyfriend, the “grandma” is really his great great (or great great great) grandma, his “sister” is probably a half sister or aunt or niece or third cousin, the uncle is probably a cousin to one of the other adults that he lives with, and the cousins are probably somehow related to him or at least have a connection with his family tree in some way, shape, or form.
Confused yet? Let me try to help: Think of Jitter’s family like the guests on the old Jerry Springer show, they’re all related, though no one knows exactly how, and disfunction reigns supreme.
As far as we can figure out, Jitter’s real mom was pretty young with she had him and no one knows who that real dad is. We don’t know exactly how young his birth mother is, but his grandmother is maybe 40 and we’re not sure if the lady he calls his grandmother is his grandmother or his grandmother’s grandmother. This lady, the grandmother’s grandmother, is seemingly the only stable person who could take care of Jitter. Of course, when I say “take care of,” what I mean is that it’s in her house that Jitter sleeps and she is ultimately in charge of his well being.
Jitter is in second grade. He can’t read, write, or do math and he misses school all the time because he sleeps in. But this year he’s in school; that’s a big from last year. Last year, his parents pulled him out of school to get back at the school and his teacher. The school, because his dad (step grandfather) is a painter and the school hired someone else to paint the school after hearing what the dad (step grandfather) was going to charge them. The teacher because, and I swear I’m not making this up, his second grade teacher last year was supposedly trying to steal Jitter’s aunt’s boyfriend from her so the aunt stabbed her in the back. That’s not an idiom or play on words. The aunt heard the teacher was trying to steal her man so she took a kitchen knife, walked to the school, and stabbed the teacher as she was running away. After that happened, the family took Jitter out of school as a way to get even.
Jitter’s life is complicated.
Though through all this, Jitter is a sweet little boy. Yes, he gets angry and fights with kids, it’s true he not a very motivated worker, and he’s not very smart, but Jitter is a nice boy. In our neighborhood there are not very many nice boys. It is palpable how much Jitter longs for a normal family. He’s always at the house helping Emilie with something or hanging out with Autry or tagging along with Randy when he does stuff. He will do absolutely anything if asked.
“Hey Jitter, take these 10 pesos and go to the store and buy us some toilet paper.”
“Hey Jitter, I forget my keys, will you climb up over the gate and open it from the inside?”
“Hey Jitter, can you stack the chairs the rest of the kids forgot to do before they left.”
“Anything for you!”
Randy and Jitter have a pretty special relationship. Jitter adores Randy. Maybe it’s because Randy is the adult male in Jitter’s life that cares for him, maybe it’s because Randy talks through with Jitter the eventual effects of Jitter’s poor decision making instead of just hitting him, or maybe it’s simply because Jitter is faking it because he thinks he will eventually get something out of the relationship, Jitter is constantly looking for affection and affirmation from Randy. Luckily for Jitter, Randy has enough to go around.
We desperately want Jitter to be saved from his sins through the hearing of the biblical, grace centered Gospel of Jesus. We drag him to church every Sunday and he hears the Gospel every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at our after school program. We want to see Jitter rise above his family and make mature decisions after having been discipled. We want to someday hear that Jitter is happily married to a godly woman and working hard at some job somewhere. But we know this will not happen apart from the sovereign plan of God.
Honestly, we are not sure how this works, but the bible seems pretty clear that God is sovereign in all things and that he commands his people to pray. We don’t tell you Jitter’s story to make you feel bad or to have you give us money so we can buy Jitter a bunch of stuff that moth and rust can destroy. We are telling you this story to ask you to pray that Jitter’s life will be transformed. That his eyes would be opened, so that he may turn from darkness to light (Acts 26:18). That he would reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9). That he would be delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of his beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). That he would confess with his mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in his heart that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9) That he, who is currently far off, will be brought near by the blood of Jesus (Ephesians 2:13).
Please pray for Jitter and pray also for us, that we would be bold to proclaim the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19).