Terror, fear and faith. Part 1

fear_and_faith“what are you thinking?  why are you taking a group of men on a mission trip back down into juarez, mexico?   it’s a killing field.  it’s a violent, hell-hole of a place…over-run by criminals, drug lords, and corrupt politicians.  if there was ever a god-forsaken place, that would be it.”

it’s true.  i’ve heard that.

it’s true.  there are seven or eight guys from our church family going to juarez for four days, in a few weeks.  it’s true there have been over 8500 homicides in the city of juarez since 2007.  the 2010 total ranked juarez as the most dangerous city in the world.

it’s true that on our last trip to juarez (in march of 2010), we did an emergency evacuation of our trip due to shootings at the american embassy, even though our group was in a community 90-minutes south of the shooting.  it’s true that amor ministries (the mission organization we work with) immediately suspended their operations in juarez after that week.

it’s also true that in the past 12 months, the culture of violence in juarez has dramatically subsided and returned  to what it was always like during the years (1995-2009) we completed over 25 spring mission trips with our youth and men’s groups.

but that’s not really the point today.

the act of terrorism in boston on monday is a tragedy.  any commentary i would give on this epic display of cowardice… or of the heroic showing of bravery, compassion, and selfless serving of the people in boston…would fall incredibly short.   we’ve seen both before.  tragically,  one day we will see both again.

we live in a broken world.  whether it’s in boston or juarez or tehran or cape town.  (btw,  juarez would rank as the fourth most dangerous city in the u.s…well behind flint, detroit, and new orleans…and just ahead of st. louis, baltimore, birmingham and newark).

until the new heaven and new earth is consummated, we will continue to live in a broken world.  pain and tragedy and heartache will not cease to exist until the promise that “every tear will be wiped away” is fulfilled.  until then, we all have to figure out how to coexist with darkness.

to that end, i’ll offer some thoughts on this awkward coexistence:

how a person operates at the intersection of fear and faith is incredibly personal.  it is for you…it is for me.  i am the only one who will ever answer to god for my life and the choices i make.  we need to be understanding of how each person responds.  we are products of our environment and our upbringing.

when god says “trust me…fear not…walk by faith and not by sight…don’t worry…give no thought for tomorrow… do not repay anyone evil for evil…do not take revenge, but leave room for god’s wrath…be peacemakers…the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of god”,  each of us must decide if these words are absolute truth or if some of it is just spiritual hyperbole.

…and the conclusions we come to in the truth-hyperbole debate determines how we live.

why i am going back to juarez?  this is easy.  because i have friends there.  i hope that my presence there will communicate… both to amor ministries and to the pastors and churches in juarez we have always partnered with…that they are not alone in the battle to be faithful.  it broke my heart to leave three years ago.  i can’t wait to return.

will it be dangerous?  i don’t think so.  certainly not any more than it has ever been in the past.  will it be risky?  probably not any more risky than going to the super bowl in new orleans or a basketball game at the staples center.  do i think we are taking unnecessary risks by going?  no way.

have fear and faith wrestled in my soul at any point in this process?  you bet.  but it does every day.

there is more to this conversation.  stay tuned for part two.

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