Saturday, March 6, 2010
Grace. Sometimes people just don't get it. (Kristin)
There are constant mini-wars between the police and the drug traffickers (banditos) in the favelas. The police typically come in the favelas to search for drugs, weapons and/or specific people. These events are heralded with shooting from both parties, which eventually stops as the banditos hide among the houses and the police do their business. The police use a large, bullet-proof vehicle dubbed the Caveirao ("Big Skull") to enter the favelas. It's massive and has small holes for the police on the inside to shoot out of. Terrible things can happen in the belly of the Caveirao to the apprehended banditos...most are sent to jail, but we've heard that some don't come out alive.
Last week a similar scenario took place in the favela where we work, we could hear the shooting from our apartment as we had our weekly meeting. The next morning, at Friday morning prayer, we listened in amazement at the story that Dona Ana told us.
The Caveirao entered Morro dos Macacos with guns blazing, but on its exodus from the favela, it stopped right in front of the community center...something that has never happened before. A policeman exited the vehicle, dragging an 18 year old boy that had been apprehended into the community center. Bleeding and smelling terribly of the bodily excrements that were filling his pants, he was released to Dona Ana. The policeman explained, "I feel like an angel told me to drop this kid off here." Then he left.
This young man had been handed two immeasurable gifts...his freedom and his life. Like Jonah, he had been graciously spit out of the belly of the whale. The difference between Jonah and this young man lies in their response: Jonah responded in repentance and obedience to God's call, the young man responded, "will you ask them to give me my hat back." You heard correctly. He had the nerve to ask Dona Ana to go after the police in the enormous death tank to give him his hat back. Didn't he realize his life had just been sparred?
We listened to this story with mouths agape; knowing the grace that was given this man to be freed from the Caveirao and aghast that his only apparent concern was for a hat. He had obviously been afraid for his life at some point...I mean, he did numbers 1 and 2 in his pants for crying out loud. How can he not realize what had been done for him? Where was his repentance?
God has offered all of us a similar grace...life and freedom through his Son, Jesus Christ, and yet it breaks my heart to think of all the people that respond the same way this young man responded, completely blind to it, ignorantly saying "I want my hat."
Lord, please make the blind see and the deaf hear! And let me not be blind to your grace in my own life.