Reconnecting in the Digital Age
Mar 12, 2014 08:03PM ● Published by Steven Jack
Carlos Hererra then and now.
When Scott Poling recently started getting very familiar messages in Spanish on his Instagram account, the Harvest New Beginnings pastor began to wonder if he was being cyber-stalked.
Absent from his mind was any thought that his new online “friend” might have been someone from his past. But that’s just who it was — someone from his past and thousands of miles away.
After getting some help translating the messages from a parishioner, Poling and his wife discovered the posts were being sent by an El-Salvadoran child the couple had sponsored in the early 1990s through the group Compassion International.
“Twenty years ago when we got married and didn’t have any money, we decided to set aside $20 every month to put this little kid in a Christian school so that he could learn about Jesus, and we saw it through all the way to graduation,” Poling said in a recent sermon.
The boy, Carlos Herrara, finished school in 1997, and is now 29 years old. Shortly after his first message to Poling, he began to post old photos of the pastor and his family.
“I was starting to wonder, ‘Who is this guy? Where is he getting these photos?” Poling said.
This wasn’t the first time Herrera had reached out to the Polings. In one of his messages he said he had previously sent the pastor Facebook friend requests.
“I just kept ignoring and ignoring and thinking who is this Central American nut job and why won’t he get out of my face,” he said.
Since the initial confusion and despite the language barrier, Poling said he has exchanged a few messages with Herrera and learned a few of the details of his life now, including that Herrara works full-time in a retail store.
“He showed commitment,” Poling said. “He just wasn’t going to give up.”