This morning I opened up the La Prensa newspaper here in San Salvador to find some very sobering statistics. The official statistics about the homicides of 2010 have been released.
The statistics are sobering.
To give you an idea of the problem with violence in El Salvador, here are a few things to consider:
There were 4, 005 murders last year in El Salvador.
In a country of nearly 7 million, there are 64.7 homicides for every 100,000 people. That’s a higher murder rate than Colombia, than Venezuela, and even higher than Mexico which has been in the news quite a lot lately concerning the violent crime that is present there.
An overwhelming number of those who are murdered are men. Young men. Men between the ages of 15 and 24.
Why are so many young men killing each other? There are many reasons that contribute. One of the big contributers is the gang culture here. Many young men come from families that are falling apart, that have no father figure, no role model, and no sense of belonging. So they find meaning and purpose and family in a life of violent crime. Many of the young men that we work with are on the path to this kind of violent, dangerous, and very deadly lifestyle.
God has put a burden on our hearts to love the fatherless, to serve them, and to offer them hope. Hope that doesn’t include life in a gang, hope that doesn’t include a violent lifestyle. We want to offer them more. We want to offer them Jesus, the Prince of Peace Himself. We also want to meet the needs they have physically, emotionally, and educationally. We want to be part of God’s plan for a real future for them.
Another thing that really burdened me as I read this article is that teenagers and young adults are not only being murdered in San Salvador, but in cities all over Latin America, Asia, Africa, and across the United States too. God has called us to this city…to respond to the cry that is here. But there are people of God who live in or near urban centers just like this all across the world. And there are people in those cities who are dying, who need help, and who need hope.
What if all of us who were followers of Christ did a little more for those fatherless around us? Those hopeless around us? I know it’s tough. I know it’s messy, and frustrating, and at times seems pointless. I know that. We have felt the frustration, the discouragement, and the feeling of being overwhelmed.
But we serve a God who is bigger than depressing news stories, and more powerful than sobering statistics. We serve a God who is in the business of transforming lives. And I am so very grateful that he chose to include me and my family in His plan for bringing transformation to San Salvador.
For all my Spanish-speaking friends, you can read the La Prensa article by clicking on this link: http://www.laprensagrafica.com/el-salvador/judicial.html