When Grown Men Cry

The first time I visited Alex’s home, he had built only its block walls, but I was impressed by his choice of location:


a bluff overlooking Hope Mountain— in gratitude for what Hope did in his life.


Our group prayed with Alex, asking God to bless the house he was building—and the home that would one day be created there.


Hope Mountain—inside Alex’s “embrace”


The next time Renaissance Man saw Alex, he learned of his engagement to Adriana (not her real name), and called me with the good news. You see, unlike Alex, Adriana has a rich heritage of family.


When their wedding day finally arrived, our missionary friend and Alex were tasked with picking up Adriana’s parents. Before Adriana’s father would leave his home, he said, “We must first commit this important day to the Lord.” He instructed everyone to hold hands as he prayed a prayer of protection and blessings upon his daughter and Alex.


What a wonderful thing for Alex, rescued from the streets at age 12, to be “adopted” into a solid, loving family in his 28th year of life! We could ask for nothing better for the children of Hope … except that when they have children of their own, they become the parents they once dreamed of having.



Alex and “Adriana” on their wedding day


Fast forward five years.


Two weeks ago, Renaissance Man and I had the privilege of visiting Alex and Adriana in their home—and meeting their new son. “Two months and 18 days old” according to his proud parents.


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Check out this beautiful crib made from wood pallets.


A carpenter by trade (using skills he first learned as a student at Hope Mountain), Alex supports his wife, new baby, and several other family members by work done in this attached-to-the-house workshop.


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Alex was very excited about his ability to save enough to purchase his table saw.


With its beautifully tiled floors, walls, and countertops, I was very proud of the house Alex has created for his family.


But mostly, I was proud of the man Alex has become.


As Alex shared his story, I watched as, one-by-one, grown men began to tear up. A few in our group had known Alex for almost two decades; some were meeting him for the first time. All listened as Alex shared of God’s protection and provision and blessing. This former child of the streets . . .


I was proud of the husband Alex has become.


You see, while looking across the room at his wife and child—love, compassion, and tears evident in his eyes and voice—Alex shared how this little one was not their first child. There had been another, stillborn at birth.


And then, for just a moment, the world skipped a beat as I heard Alex say,

When our baby died, I begged God to not let my wife lose her faith.


In the midst of his own grief, that was his heart cry:  That the loss of their precious first child would not cause his wife to lose her faith.


Standing next to Adriana, I looked over at the young mother holding her infant, tears quietly dripping down her face. I speak very little Portuguese; she speaks no English. Two mothers’ hearts bonded as I hugged her and caressed her present son.



I am confident Alex will become the parent he once dreamed of having.

His little one will know love and stability and commitment. He will not continue the generational cycle of poverty, neglect, and abuse that his father suffered. His future is different. His future is bright—and Hope-filled.


Alex and Adriana’s home is visible from Hope Mountain . . . barely more than a bump on a ridge as seen from the campus. But every day, it serves as confirmation that 25 years ago three men were following God’s will when they went to Brazil to see if they could do something about the systematic killing of street children. They did do something. They provided a haven in a heartless world. With God’s help, they provided hope—and a future—for thousands of children like Alex.


With God’s help—and the generosity of many just like you and me—they still do.


* * * * *

While in Brazil, Hope Unlimited for Children board members had the privilege of presenting the Jack E. Smith Legacy of Hope Award to Philip Smith, one of the founders of Hope and “missionary on the ground” in Brazil. He and his wife, Corenne, are two of the world’s finest and most dedicated advocates for mortal-risk children.


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Philip and Corenne Smith

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Award named in memory of Philip’s father and Hope Unlimited for Children co-founder, Jack E. Smith


A previous Jack E. Smith Legacy of Hope Award was presented in 2013 during An Evening of Friendships.




  1. What a touching story. This has been a hard week in many ways, but stories of men like Alex fill me with confidence that love and goodness will ultimately prevail.

  2. Thank you for sharing Hope.