When out driving on the streets of Tegucigalpa you see newspapers posted everywhere. And you will almost always see an article relating to gang violence: “Gang Kills 17 in Shoemaking Workshop,” “Drug Gang Kills 9 in Honduras,” “Gunmen Slay Footballers in Honduran Gang Attack.” As you can see by the titles of these articles, gang activity is very prevalent, and a huge problem in Honduras.
A Price to Pay
Gang members, oddly enough, have a high respect for God and anyone that chooses to follow Him. And if you want to leave the gang to become a Christian, they will let you, but at a high price. One way to get in and out of a gang is “blood in, blood out.” This means the gang members will beat you, and beat you, and beat you until you bleed profusely, pretty much until you are just about dead, yet still alive. This is how you get in a gang, and how you get out. Yet getting out does not end there. If you have confessed to the gang that you want to follow Jesus, and have received your beating, they will literally follow you everywhere you go for one year. And you better not be caught sinning. You sin, you die. If they catch you in the act of fornication, see a beer in your hand, a joint in your mouth, or even without your Bible, they will kill you.
Wow! Can you imagine being followed for a year? Being carefully watched for each and every sin you commit? I don’t know about you, but I think most of us would be dead! Because truth be told, we are all sinful beings. And because of our sinful nature we deserve death. BUT, and I am glad there is a BUT, God sent his Son to take our place. Jesus took on all the sins of the world so that we wouldn’t have to pay for them. We are FORGIVEN. I am reminded of, and thankful for, the verse in Acts 13:38, “Therefore my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”
They’re Forgiven TOO
With all that said, another major part of our ministry is witnessing to these gang members, many of whom we find in the boys juvenile detention center. And our church is full of ex gang members who have decided to leave their old life of drugs, crime, etc. and follow Jesus. These men, and sometimes women, have a past that many of us cannot even fathom, many having murdered several people. But there sins are no greater than yours or mine in the eyes of Jesus, and they too have been forgiven. They need to know this truth. They need to know they are forgiven. They need Jesus. And this is why we are here.