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How It All Began: Part 1

by Faithful Friend

On February 14, 2021

Hello everyone, my name is Les Castro and I am the founder of Faithful Friend.

Faithful Friend started in the 1990s with a simple demonstration of Biblical truth with the help of my first German shepherd whose name was Ayla.

I had been invited to do an inspirational presentation to teenagers at a North Texas summer camp.

My striking 92-pound shepherd grabbed everyone’s attention as she strode beside me to the front stage without being on a leash. There was no need for a leash because Ayla would follow my commands, either from one of three different languages or by my use of hand signals.

The first certainty to establish was that Ayla knew who her master was and could follow his directions.

Many folks call themselves Christians, but they fail to follow much of what Jesus has asked us to do.

Ayla had already shown her obedience by walking closely beside me, but what we did next was to solidify the image of what obedience means.

I asked several volunteers to come up on stage and stand 20 feet or so across from Ayla. I let her know with hand signals I wanted her to lie down, and I explained to the crowd she would stay down unless instructed to do otherwise.

 

I asked the volunteers to try to get Ayla to disobey me.

They had to stay in place, and Ayla had to stay where she was. The kids asked what her commands were and then called those out to her. Some asked for her treats and offered those to her. Still others threw treats in front of her to see if she would get up to get one. But all she did was put her head down between her paws as if to say, “I’m not interested”.

The real test of obedience is whether one can strictly follow directions when sorely tempted to disobey. Most of us can resist temptation when it comes from strangers. But I pointed out most teenagers get into trouble when their buddies suggest something they can’t – or don’t want to – refuse.

To dramatize how kids can avoid even this level of temptation, I turned in profile to Ayla, put my hand up so she couldn’t see my lips move, and I joined the kids in calling to Ayla. Even when she heard my voice among the others, all she did was lift her ears. She remained steadfast to her post, the position and location I had instructed.

It was at that point one could have heard a pin drop in the crowd. I explained it wasn’t because Ayla didn’t want the treats or wasn’t tempted to respond to what she thought might have been my voice, but rather it was what she knew to be true that kept her still. I had asked her to stay until it was very clear to do otherwise.

I trained Ayla to stay put until I picked up all the treats and only to get up when I knelt beside her. Ayla did exactly what she needed to do, and as I fed her each treat, I recited the promises of God which help keep us from getting into trouble.

Kids and even adults often think God is about a bunch of “no’s” or “thou shalt nots”.

I recounted to them the Scripture from 1 Corinthians 10:13 (paraphrased), “There is no temptation common to man that God has not given us a way around”. I told them God promises in Deuteronomy 31:6 He will never leave us nor forsake us. And He knows the plans He has for us, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). If our heavenly father didn’t love us, He would never have said such things. It would only be reasonable I should show Him love in all the ways I can. Doing what He has asked me to do would be a good start.

Ayla showed me through her actions that she loved me a lot.

Please be sure to check in with us from time to time for updates and for new podcast episodes.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Les Castro
Faithful Friend Ministries
FaithfulFriend.org
(972) 979-0300
Serving US Veterans and America’s At-Risk Youth with Faithful Friend Service Dogs

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