Juarez: Signs of Life and Death

Juarez: Last Friday I joined a team from our church along with the pastor and members of Trinity-First United Methodist Church of El Paso on a Casa por Christo project in Juarez. Over three days, we had the privilege of being the hands and feet of Jesus building a house for a mother and their three children in a impoverished neighborhood. When the team arrived at the site of the project they found the remnants of their home that had been constructed out of used shipping pallets with a old dirty rug resting on a swept dirt floor.

My first impression as I arrived at the site in less than twenty-five minutes from the front steps of First Baptist Church El Paso was how quickly I traveled to a “third world” neighborhood. Literally I could stand on the front steps of her tiny little home and look across the Rio Grande and straight onto the modern thriving campus of the University of Texas of El Paso. From the steps of her home I could see the cars racing by on I-10, while she struggled to put food on the table for her and her children.

Shortly after I arrived on the site, one of the team members pointed out to me two cloth dolls hanging from the power line just half a block up the hill from where we were working.  The dolls were suspended from the wire on what appeared to be “hangman’s nooses.” The dolls were hung strategically above the home of where a local drug cartel had snuffed out the lives of two young men just days before our arrival. Like the Romans used to line the roads with men dying on crosses to vivid declare “don’t mess with us.” The cartel posted their calling card and declared their control over the neighborhood. In less than fifteen minutes on the job,  our team was confronted with the dark realities faced day in and day out in that neighborhood teeming with little children.

At lunch time when we broke out our food for lunch the children turned out to watch and soon to join in with the festivities. It was amazing to me how a simple bag of chips could bring such joy to a little boy or girl. For months I had read about the violence and prayed for the city, but last Friday my view of Juarez changed. Now as I pray for the city I close my eyes and I see the faces of the children. I see the mother who had prayed for a house for five years. I see her son who worked beside me all day. I see the woman’s mother straining to carry supplies because she too want to pitch in and help. Juarez is not a bloody mark on the map of Northern Mexico. Juarez is a city of people like you and me longing for hope and help.

On this lonely block lost in Juarez there are two signs today–hanging high above are two dolls dangling as symbols of death, and down below is a little new house shining even brighter as a symbol of life and love. It is just like Jesus to show up where you lest expect Him and to save the day! Last week for me was a great deal like Easter! Remember never ever give up on Jesus!

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Filed under Border Journal, El Paso Journal

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