El Paso: Yesterday I was invited to give pastoral support to a group from our community who had gathered to be part of our Camino de Luz ministry. This community group is made up of approximately fifty men, women, and children from the neighborhoods around our church facilities in the central city of El Paso. The fellowship and Bible study is in Spanish, and the people gather faithfully every other week to learn from God’s Word together.
Many of the participants have friends and families who live in Juarez. Due to the incredible violence in the city their lives have been touched and shattered by the dark face of evil. During their time together one by one the people began to tell their stories. One young couple shared about how they were kidnapped. He was taken in one car to a remote location and she was taken in another car to a different location. Abductions of women are all to common on the streets of Juarez and have been for decades. The couple gave testimony that as they prayed and pleaded with their captors for freedom that they were released. They testified they believed God had set them free and protected them from danger because they were open about their faith and confidence in God.
Another woman in the group shared how their teenage grandsons had been kidnapped and threatened that if they did not come up with the ransom that one by one their captors would cut off their fingers. As you can imagine the horror of this kind of cruelty filled the room. Meanwhile at the back sat a young grandmother holding her grandson in her lap. She was wearing black in mourning for her son who had been gunned down last summer on the bloody streets of Juarez.
As I stood among them listening to their stories, I felt so ill equipped to help. What was I going to share or say? How could I help them? I have lived most of my life in safety and security, yet they were turning to me for hope.
Immediately my mind was drawn to the prayer of our Lord Jesus. I have come to realize that Jesus’ words take on a new power and clarity when you see them through the eyes of those who live in danger. Jesus knew all too well the fears and struggles being faced by these struggling believers. He had experienced the power of evil and its grip on a society or community.
Suddenly His words came alive in my heart and I shared them with the people.
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
The hope for our community rests in the hands of our heavenly Father, who is a holy God who cannot sit idle in the midst of such evil and suffering. He is our Father in heaven, so He has at his disposal all we need in this life.
We pray for the coming of His Kingdom–because the King is the only one able to stop the violence by changing the hearts of the people. Taking up guns and seeking revenge only makes matters worse. We take on the image of the very evil we are seeking to stop. Jesus taught us to pray for the advance of His Kingdom and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus taught us to seek forgiveness and to grant forgiveness. Forgiveness frees us from the poison of bitterness, and vicious violence cycle of revenge. Forgiveness places the one who terrorizes us in the hands of Almighty God to do with them as He pleases.
Jesus taught us to pray “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil or the evil one.” Daily we must depend on His protection and presence.
I must admit in less than half a year on the border, Jesus has opened my eyes to a whole new way of seeing Him and His Word. No longer I am as tempted to play the religious games we place in safety. I realize people are desperately looking to God for hope and help in dangerous situations.
Please pray for us as we seek to live in the hope of Christ along the border of Texas next to the most dangerous city in the world.