Monday last I attended the Body Off discipleship class that Brian Wiggs organizes. It is required for the guys in the Micah Tech program, but there are others from the neighborhood who attend as well. While slightly awkward being the only girl in the room I wanted to hear the stories of the two special guests who were speaking that night, particularly Doug from Tigard. At the end of the evening Drew, the other guest speaker, asked us to each pick another person in the room to pray for before we left. He started in one corner and had that person pick someone, the person they picked chose who they were going to pray for, and so forth until everyone in the room had someone to pray for and was being prayed for. My heart melted a little when the young boy picked me. By my turn there were only two people left, so I chose the one whose name I remembered - Eduardo. His prayer request was to be reunited with his family; he was estranged from his wife and two young children. He hadn't seen them for some time and he really wanted to do what it would take to be with them again.
Last night, one week later, Eduardo was killed.
He came from a hard background- drugs, gangs, and violence. He had been in the Tech program which is how he started coming to the discipleship program, but was kicked out some time ago. Last January his friend Alejandro had completed a six month drug rehab program, paid for by Micah. He was killed last night as well. Perhaps two murders are not significant in a country with the highest homicide rate in the world. But it wasn't just these two. About a month or two ago, these two young men had gotten drunk and murdered someone. A few people knew about it at Micah but kept quiet about it. For several reasons it was wisest to just keep silent, play dumb, and continue to love these guys and try to help them make better choices and turn their lives around. It wasn't without risk, they had made "jokes" about some of the staff that could have been taken as threats. Showing grace and extending the love of Christ was a choice that wasn't always easy for the staff. Eduardo and Alejandro were truly conflicted, wanting a different life but unable to make the choices that would help them leave their current life behind. Last night they made more bad choices. Whether they were high or drunk I don't know, but the two of them murdered a second person last night, a young man named Johnny who had recently started attending the discipleship class. I don't have an explanation or a reason why. Does there need to be one? But the news spread in the neighborhood of what these two had done and the neighborhood decided enough was enough and took justice and retribution into their own hands. The police are spread too thin and too ill-equipped. Just like the first murder Eduardo and Alejandro committed went unsolved, so will theirs.
While the news this morning rattled me a little, having just met and prayed for Eduardo. What has disturbed me is that the three deaths have caused Juan Carlos to lay low. He used to run with these guys in his former life and the concern, as it was related to me, was that the neighborhood, caught up in the frenzy of fighting for a sense of safety would not remember that he is living a new life now, that they would seek revenge for his past actions. While I feel calloused for not caring more about Eduardo and Alejandro, my heart starts to beat faster at the pace of panic when I consider the possibility of Juan Carlos being killed. I dearly love Juan Carlos and treasure his friendship; his death would shake my world.
I know I must not look to the circumstances around me but turn my eyes to God, the sustainer of all life. He holds my life, Juan Carlos' life, all of our lives, in is capable hands. I must trust in his sovereignty otherwise the chaos of this world wrecked with sin is too much. Not only must I trust in my Creator, but I must do battle, for this life is being played out on a battlefield, a war is going on. Casualties are incurred on both sides; my life may be asked of me. The reminder today of how brutal this war can be makes me wish that I could protect all those I love, all of my Micah family, but I will not falter in the face of evil; in fact it helps solidify my resolve to come alongside my boys to fight over them, for them, with them. One day this war will be over and done with, Christ reigning supreme. That day has yet to come, and so onward we march, soldiering on.