Those of us who live in the U.S. think of Juarez as the center of violence in the world, yet I have been here four days and only seen policemen on motorcycles and, finally, yesterday an army patrol. I have also seen no signs of the violence, and still everyone here talks of the violence as of great concern for several reasons: 1. They know it has happened and is still happening. 2. Because of the violence, there is a vigilance that we would find uncommon. Constant scanning for indications of violence. 3. It is hurting the economy. 4. It hampers the work of the church by limiting activities in certain communities and at night. 5. Most fear traveling by bus or car on the highways.
The contrast between a bustling city apparently going about its business like any thriving metropolis (pop. 1.5 million) and the undercurrent of anxiety is palpable. Then one notices other signs of a prosperous city: new hotels, large shopping centers, several thriving grocery chains, two quick stop chains, well kept, schools renovated or newly constructed parks, and so on and so forth.
Then one turns one's head and in the same neigborhoods are businesses in delapidated buildings, homes that need significant repair, streets that need paving, others that need to be repaved. Around the corner is abject poverty. In reality, most residents of Juarez are poor by U.S. standards. Some of the poverty is not much different than we would see in any U.S. city.
On Thursday morning, my hosts, Pastors Juan Pablo Gutierrez and Rosendo Sichler, took me to a neighborhood several miles into the countryside where they have a ministry. Their purpose in going was to show me their work, but to do so without another purpose would have been bad manners, so we took food in the form of a couple dozen eggs for each family.
We arrived at the first house we went to visit but nobody was home. On the street I noticed two children who ran to the car when they saw who it was. Their faces showed tell tale signs of hunger. Despite smiles, their eyes were tired and their skin lax. They had been to the Pentecostal mission for addiction treatment, which gathers several day old bread from the city, for bread but the center had none and they were hungry and had no food. Could we help? Juan Pablo told them to go home and we would be there in a few minutes. We took them the eggs and gave them some money for tortillas.
We visited another home that had been built by Casas de Cristo, an organization that only builds houses by a set plan for families in Mexico. The children were excited to see us and to show us the small rabbits in a pin. I asked the boy if they were to eat. "No, Señor, they are too small." "WIll you eat them when they get big?" I asked. "Oh, si!" Then the picture of a child cuddling the cute little bunny as if a pet knowing that one day it will be a meal on the table. Thank you, Lord, for the rabbit that gives its life to give life to little children.