As you walk through your home in the darkness of early morning, someone approaches you from behind. You see the blur of a tall man swinging around to face you, and you feel a sharp pain in your stomach, caused by your stepfather’s foot making contact with your abdomen. You crawl to the corner of the room and huddle silently until he leaves, as you do every time he beats you.

You sigh with relief as he leaves the room, but then your heart sinks as you realize … it’s Sunday. At school you are safe—at least for a few hours. You wonder where you can go to avoid another beating that day … so you decide to go to church.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
—Psalm 46:1 NIV

This story may seem too terrible to be true, but days like this one are a harsh reality for Antonio, an 11-year-old boy from Mexico. When he first started attending church, he kicked other children and ignored the teachers when they spoke to him. The daily trauma of living in a home filled with anger and abuse had taken its toll on Antonio, leaving him feeling unloved, resentful, and angry. He didn’t have any reason to believe the adults at church would treat him well when his own family didn’t.

Equipped with the Life on Life discipleship program provided by the David Caleb Cook Foundation, Antonio’s teachers at church are helping him to heal and showing him that his heavenly Father’s love never ends. And, with patience and prayer, his teachers are beginning to see changes in Antonio’s heart and his behavior. As he begins to know the healing and abundant love of his heavenly Father, he is beginning to gain something he has never had before—hope for the future.

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