The first time I met Hector Henriquez was our first Sunday morning at the church meeting. I went through the door and met him quickly thereafter. He is Puerto Rican. He was raised hard. He was a bum of sorts hooked on crack and probably a few other things. His story was very similar to many of the young kids in NY. He was about 35 or so when I first met him.
His wife Alma was also Puerto Rican. She was full of life. She was a vivacious and always talking. She would be a stereotypical Hispanic woman. She always had something to say, always serving, always full of joy and a pleasure to be around. They had two children, Alethea and Antoinette.
We were in Hector’s apartment one evening and he began to tell us about how he had graduated from a bible program. He was so proud of what he had done. He had put himself to the work and did what was necessary to get through. He was telling us how proud he was and how good God was to let him go through this program. I was quite impressed as he was articulating what God had done in his life. At one point in the conversation someone asked if we could look at his diploma he received from his program. He was more than glad to show it to us. He got up and went into the closet in the living area of his apartment and opened the door. The diploma was hanging on the inside of the door. I was amazed. It looked like a diploma that a 5 year old would receive from Kindergarten. It was amazing. I felt sad for him in a way and I felt convicted in my soul for my arrogance as I had a college degree and was not as grateful of it, but more expected that I deserved it. Hector had an attitude of a servant and was grateful for what he could get in a hard world. He received a “kid diploma” with big letters and colors on it and large fun fonts and it was a 90-day program. It was simple, but yet challenging if you were a crack addict. I received a normal college degree that took 4 years of my life and was a bit grueling and challenging in its own way. I was proud and Hector was humble. I was privileged and he was a beggar. I learn about Jesus that day from my new friend.
During this same meeting Hector went into his bedroom for awhile and then came out with a tub of water and a towel over his shoulder. He got in front of me and began taking my shoes off. After he got the socks off he began washing my feet. He was crying and praying and washing my feet. He was praising God that these “men of God” as he called them took the time to come to their city to help them tell others about Jesus. He was so full of gratitude. He went around the room washing everyone’s feet in time. It was one of the most spiritually humiliating events of my life. It was incredible. I wanted to melt in the floor. I was so proud. (still am) It was unbelieveable how far I was in my heart for God from where these people were. They loved God and showed it with unhibited passion and humility. They got the gospel right. I took the basin from Hector and began to wash people’s feet. I was humiliated, but I also wanted to emulate my friend in heart attitude.