First time I recall meeting Junior was in a stairwell of a high-rise construction company called Hanssen, he smiled a lot, but he also carried the world on his shoulders.
Junior was already married and a family man before his twenty first birthday and he was thousands of miles from his hometown.
We connected instantly and chatted here and there when we could about life. Junior being new to the company, started off as a labour doing long hours just looking to put food on the table. He tells me how he was exploited by previous bosses in other industries because of his age and lack of skills.
I gain Junior’s trust after a while and he asks if I did marriage counselling? Junior was willing to do anything to build a strong marriage but felt he had little guidance to build a solid foundation for the future of his family.
We organised to meet with his wife and child in a cafe in the city and I just looked at them and thought how fortunate they both are to have one another, just a beautiful young couple that were just starting out.
Fact was, I hated the idea of counselling them as though I had some magical remedy for them. We talked for a while and we laughed about some stuff, by enlarge they just needed reassurance that they were going to be ok.
Most marriages fade when one just stops believing in the magic and fails to make the small choices and then the other partner slowly dies to.
After that meeting as I often do, I ask if I could pray on their behalf and bestow a blessing on their lives. It’s my way of sharing the basics of human dignity in the areas of love, hope and charity, the three cords that reinforce the marriage vows.
It’s been years since that day, just chatting at the city cafe and I’m so proud of Junior and his wife. Junior developed numerous skills within construction and ended up in the concrete team, an integral part of the construction process and his reputation goes before him. I heard his wife is very Community minded, always giving back these days.
It’s young couples like Junior and his wife that make Chaplaincy and Mentoring truly satisfying.
Previous bosses missed the potential of young men like Junior who was just trying to make ends meet and establish a home for himself, their loss and Hanssen’s gain.
These days when I see Junior smile, I don’t see the weight of the world on his shoulders as he embraces love, hope and charity on a far more mature level.