Many people ask me if I get scared living in such a dangerous country. The truth is that I really don't. I learned early on what parts of El Salvador to avoid and have for the most part avoided them. I have had minimal interaction with gangs here. I've had two positive experiences which of course nurtured my bravery and one not so positive which left me looking over my shoulder for about 6 months. The fact of the matter is that I pray for these people almost on a daily basis. Nothing in this country is going to change until the gang violence and control is taken care of.
This afternoon Oscar and I were sitting in a cafe' while Faviola was at her dance class. (Faviola takes dance as a form of therapy to help her with her large motor skills and coordination) I was plalying solitaire on my phone and Oscar was reading the news paper. He pushed the paper in front of me so I could read a headline. "60 families told to leave their apartments or they will be killed" Who gave this order? A gang (not sure which one nor do I want to print their name anyway) The picture below showed a man putting a mattress in a pick up and two women crying. "We are leaving because we are afraid of the gangs" one woman was quoted saying. At that moment I was overwhelmed by the power that these gangs have. How do you clear out an entire apartment complex? For the first time I allowed a little tinge of fear enter my heart. I asked Oscar if that could happen to us. He replied that if they wanted to take our house (which is the same as Esther's House) they could or take our lives if we refused. I pondered that for quite some time. In fact, I am still thinking about it.
I am very cautious here and my husband is even more cautious with me. But being cautious doesn't eliminate all of the dangers here. I know that. I am not afraid of death. I am prepared to give my life in service to God if need be. What I am afraid of and what I am not prepared for is leaving behind my family. I start each morning by asking God to protect me as I go about my day. I ask Him to protect my family and all of the children that we work with.
The truth is that I would love to go in and minister to the gang members. I believe the only way to change them is through Christ. It's not my calling, however. I am a firm believer that you need God's covering in this type of work and I don't want to venture into that territory without God's covering. So for now I just continue to pray for them. We are working hard to bring up this youngest generation in Christ. We are working hard to help families understand the importance of staying together and providing security for their children. The more children we can educate and keep out of the gangs today, the weaker these gangs will become generation by generation.
Please continue to pray for us, our families and El Salvador
Learn more about Beth and Oscar Alegria by visiting their website. Click here!