Monday, October 1, 2012


About a week ago, I heard about the assassination of two men in the favela. The first of the two was a drug addict that had crossed the wrong people. The second was a pastor who had intervened on behalf the former, pleading for his creditors to show clemency. The pastor's request was denied, and when he refused to step down, he was silenced with a gunshot to the head. The other man's death was not so quick to come. His assassins tortured him for an undetermined amount of time before finishing him off. My reaction to this story - a combination of incredulity, shock and disgust.

One week prior, Ulisses and I were coaching soccer in a different favela. Waiting for the youth to arrive, I was sitting on the bleachers. To my left were a group of 4 little kids, the oldest of which could not have been more than 5 years old. As we sat, two dogs approached and decided to share an intimate moment in front of us. The kids descended the bleachers, grabbed some sticks, circled the dogs and began beating them. Still engaged in the act, the dogs growled and snapped back at their aggressors. I stepped in, but not before the kids got in a few more kicks to one dog's side. My reaction to this episode - complacency and apathy.

Of these two stories, the one that concerns me more is the latter. Why? Not because I'm banging the drum for animal rights, but rather because of my disparate reactions. The first story elicited what I would deem a proper emotional response of dismay and anger. However, witnessing the second episode didn't faze me in the least. In my time in the favelas, I've seen so many dogs beaten with sticks, birds pelted with rocks and cats attacked with firecrackers that it all just seems normal now. And it's normal that scares me most. Normal stifles grace not because change seems impossible but because affronts to the nature of God becomes imperceptible. Honestly, I cannot say that I still notice the piles of trash, the bootlegged electric lines, the harsh words of a mom to her child or the addicts that line the vacant allies characteristic of the favela. I know that these are symptoms and not the essence of the problem. But, I don't like being in the place where it no longer affects me, where it no longer compels me to plead for God to intervene. I ask for your prayers in this. I ask that God would give us, as a community, eyes to see as He sees.    

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