CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) — Tired of beatings from a drunken husband, the wife sought help from a local court.
The judged warned the abusive alcoholic he might lose his family. But that well suited the man who told the judge he wanted nothing to do with his family.
“He said we weren’t worth it to him,” Nestor Flores recounted.
Flores was one of the troubled couple’s children, who spent many tumultuous years growing up in one of the worst neighborhoods in Guatemala City. But today, Flores is a freshman at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga.
“It was awful,” Flores said of his early life. “My dad got involved in drugs and alcohol; and every time he was done working, all he would do is drink.”
When the court decided in favor of Flores’ mother, she left her violent husband and took her three children with her. She struggled to pay their school fees, and later sent her 13-year-old daughter to work. Concerned for the children’s welfare, the court suggested they be placed in an orphanage.
“After my mom talked to us and explained the situation she was dealing with, we decided it was best,” Flores said. “She didn’t have another option.”
Flores was 10 when he and his sister entered the orphanage. Two months later, their older sister joined them.
“I was there for nine years just like my sisters. It was at the orphanage that I got to know Jesus Christ,” Flores said.
Recounting a near-fatal incident that pointed him to Christ, Flores told TMCNews he had ventured too far into the surf and was sucked deeper into the sea.
“I kept swimming and swimming and it wasn’t working,” Flores said. “I started trying to repent, but it was too late. There was so much going through my mind. I gave up and started sinking in the water.”
But a lifeguard rescued Flores.
During the next church service at the orphanage, Flores knew the Lord was pursuing him. After a worker talked with Flores, he uttered a prayer of repentance and committed his life to Christ.
Many of Flores’ peers, including his younger sister, became Christians that day because of his influence at the orphanage. That influence increased when days later he was placed in charge of half of the orphanage dormitory, which consisted of about 45 children ranging from age 8 to 13.
He maintained these duties for two years and was eventually in charge of the entire dorm.
Involved in children’s ministry on Sundays, Flores said, “I just felt blessed. I felt like it was awesome to be able to serve people when I was in the orphanage.”
One summer, Flores served as interpreter for two missionaries at a camp for kids. Soon he and the missionaries, Andrea and Corey Bolt, developed a close bond.
“We felt like a family,” said Flores, who remembered how Andrea came every six weeks to the orphanage and brought him necessities like clothes. “She did that until I was 19.”
The couple eventually talked with Flores about his future plans. “I told them that my dream was to come to America and have the opportunity to come to school and have a better education,” Flores said.
With his visa and a plane ticket in-hand, Flores had but one day to say good-bye to his family.
“I talked to my mom before and she said, ‘Son, please take that opportunity because that’s something I can’t give you.’ She just prayed with me and said, ‘I hope everything goes well and I hope you have a better life,'” Flores recalled.
Now Stateside, Flores lives with the Bolts in Cumming, Ga.
“When I started looking for a college, the first thing I wanted was a Christian college. I wanted it to be small because it’s hard to get used to a big school. I was also looking for a school that was close to my house,” Flores said. Even though he considered other colleges, Flores added, “The doors closed there.”
Flores enjoys being a student, and a member of TMC’s soccer team. He insisted that TMC is “the perfect place to be just because it is a Christian school.”
As a general business major, his dream is “to build an orphanage and,” he said, “to be involved in missions and anything that has to do with helping people.”
Vicky Kaniaru is senior staff writer at Truett-McConnell College.
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