I, Jim, recently returned from a trip to Honduras where we were videotaping our “story” and documenting just what it is Heart4Children is doing. Early one morning (5:20am) I was working with our videographer videotaping our high school age boys going to school. We videotaped them getting on their bus and followed it for a while capturing some candid shots along the way. We eventually passed the bus to go on into town to wait for them to get to school. Within a few short minutes of passing their bus, I saw another bus pulling over to pick up passengers about 50 yards in front of us and I prepared to go around the bus. It was a nice cool day and our windows were all rolled down as we traveled.
I looked ahead and saw a motorcycle heading toward the bus and us. Suddenly the motorcycle pulled in from of the bus and the rider pulled a gun and started shooting at the front of the bus and toward our vehicle. The young man who was doing our video work was in my passenger seat. When I saw what was happening and heard the too familiar sound of gunfire, I pushed my passenger’s head down below the dashboard and yelled, “Stay down!” I ducked as low as I could and yet still be able to see the road to drive. I accelerated as hard as I could while navigating around the shooter, the bus and people running in all directions. Just down the road I pulled over to make sure we were ok and no bullets had entered the truck. Truly, thank God, we were OK and I had not run over anyone in my attempt to speed away from the danger and thank God our boys were not on that bus, but one just minutes behind.
The bus was shot up because the owner of the bus company had not paid the extortion required by the gangs. As I processed what had happened, my thoughts turned to our boys. Boys who have come from unbelievably horrible backgrounds. Boys who get up every morning at 4:30 am to get ready for school and make a 1 to 1 ½ hour bus ride into the city to attend classes. Boys who have been robbed at gun or knife point while traveling to and from school. Boys who have a dream of being a businessman, an attorney, a doctor, an engineer, a heating and air-conditioning technician, etc. I thought of how life is for them in this violent culture and how much they have to overcome just to finish high school. And, as I wiped away my tears of sorrow for them, I felt an immense feeling of pride in them. I am proud of them for choosing to do the difficult things, to stay in school, to take the risk everyday of just getting to and from school, and of breaking the cycle of family abuse and abandonment. I know there are places of poverty in our first world USA. But there is something different in a country where you could be murdered as a student just trying to get to school and there will not even be a news report of your death. No one will even investigate. You die as an unknown kid who just had an unlucky day trying to get to school.
I write these words back at home sitting in my middle class suburban home. A home and neighborhood with no guards, no bars on the windows, no concrete fence with razor wire around my yard. I think about safety. Safety is an illusion for us all, but for our boys it is not even a possibility. They just live in danger every day. And then I think, why do I feel safe at our boys’ home and in Honduras? And I do feel safe there. When I travel there I climb into the bottom bunk of my bed in the “Casa Azul” and literally snuggle into a wonderful night’s sleep with the sounds of gun shots throughout many nights. Why do I feel safe? Is it because I think God is going to always protect me and not let anything “bad” happen to me? No, not at all. He has already proven to me that he is not that kind of “safe.” He took my son. He has taken half of my lungs as of today, and he left me facing a terminal disease with no treatment. So why do I still feel safe? There is only one reason I can think of; by the small speck of faith, I truly believe that for me to live is him (Jesus) and to die is truly to gain something better. Not to gain a “reward” or mansion in the sky, but to gain him in a level of relationship I cannot even fathom on earth and to gain the relationships that have been broken by death; my parents, sister, my son, and so many others loved and lost.
St. John 14:27I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.