If you have enough money in your pocket to buy a cappuccino, you have enough money to contract a person to kill someone in Guatemala City. The shanty towns of this city of almost 5 million people are known as red zones, where there can be more than 18 homicides every day. And for less than $4, you can pay to have someone killed.
The first people on the scene of these killings are usually not police or emergency services, but children. They play outside and have grown accustomed to the sights, sounds, smells—and horror—of daily violence. They grow up in the middle of this environment, then become part of the system as they age. This shocking violence not only has the immediate impact of devaluing life, but also has long-term ripple effects for the community and the nation. When youth are repeatedly the first-responders to homicide scenes, they are left to draw their own conclusions about the inhumanity surrounding them, and violence can quickly become a way of life.
On a recent trip to Guatemala, I spoke to a pastor who works in these red zones. He said that life there is growing cheaper by the day. He has been called by God to serve in this area, and he has a vision to help these kids understand the value of every human life. He is reaching them with the love of Christ and showing them how to be life-givers rather than life-takers. He is just one man in one part of one city…saving one life at a time. And although he serves in a war zone, he carries no weapon but the sword of the spirit.
My friend is standing for freedom and he is standing to protect life in the midst of death. He is rattling the gates of Hell and declaring the truth that the life-giving Savior, Jesus, has already won the war! He knows that the impact of love will be far more effective and long-lasting than the impact of violence. And he has a clear vision to change the culture of death into a culture of life in the red zones of Guatemala City…and beyond.
There is a growing army of life-giving individuals around the world who are standing in the gap for others: bringing hope and a future for households, villages, communities, cities, and nations. They often go unrecognized but they are making a difference. It is the simple, everyday loving that these individuals do that will conquer the movement toward death around our world.
Each of us is given opportunities every day to choose life in our words and deeds. We must steward well these opportunities, believing that each one is given to us by God as a divine appointment. I’m confident that every act of life done by each of us will push back the death march around the globe, one life at a time.