Juarez: A few days ago I had the opportunity to join a construction team made up of men from the First Baptist Church of El Paso, and the Trinity-First United Methodist Church of El Paso. This team was tasked with the assignment of building a home in Juarez in cooperation with the Casa por Christo ministry headquartered in El Paso.
We arrived at the job site around eight 0′ clock in the morning and set about a series of projects in preparation for the arrival of the cement truck. Unfortunately the cement truck was running on “Border time” which meant it was fashionably late! Finally mid-morning the truck arrived and the slab was poured, and it was time for us to wait for the cement to dry. I don’t know if you have ever waited for cement to dry, but I can assure you it is a long tedious process.
As we waited we took our lunch break and shared a meal with a local pastor. Following lunch the team was bored waiting and was looking for something to do. One of the guys noted that the family that was to inhabit the new home had three roosters and three hens in a tiny makeshift chicken coop. It was also noted that we had ample left over lumber and chicken wire to construct a new chicken coop. So a handful of guys decided that was a worthy project for their afternoon break.
It just so happens that among the team were an architect, an electrical engineer and a couple of master carpenters. On a piece of sheet rock the architect drew up plans for the chicken coop which included a pitched roof, and two rooms. Once the plans were completed the work on the project proceeded with wood being cut to precise specifications, and the carpenters going to work with a fury.
As the guys were working since I was in “supervision” not so much because of my status but because of my lack of skill, I was visiting with the site coordinator from the “Casas por Cristo”. He shared with me how fewer and fewer teams are willing to come to Juarez because of the reports of the senseless violence in the city. Sadly the reports are true. Over the past few years thousands of people have been gunned down on these dusty bloody streets.
As he spoke of the dangers and the fears, he also reported that his organization had not had a single violence incident while building homes for hundreds of low income families who had been living in cardboard houses with dirt floors.
It occurred to me that I was watching an amazing irony in life. I was watching a group of men laughing and having the time of their lives building a “chicken coop” in one of the most dangerous cities in the world!
Interestingly enough my mind was drawn to the words of Jesus when He said:
“Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will find it.” (Mark 8:35 NIV)
I realized right before my eyes I was witnessing this amazing reality. Many were bring robbed of the joy of serving our Lord by fear while a handful of men willing to take a risk for the sake of the gospel were experiencing life as it was meant to be.