Saying YES to God in the ganglands of Honduras
Naomi lives in a part of Honduras where gang violence and organized crime is rife – one of the most dangerous areas in the country. But God spoke to her and told her she was going to help turn things around. So she said yes.
When things aren’t going so well, it’s easy to get despondent. As an unemployed, single mother, Naomi felt weighed down by her problems. She hadn’t had a job for over a year, but she found the courage to choose a positive attitude.
Through her church Naomi decided to serve the youth of her neighborhood, to help them realize that joining a gang wasn’t their best or only destination in life.
SERVING WITH COURAGE
The Living in Love and Faith church is based in Flor del Campo, Tegucigalpa – described by the media as "the most dangerous city in the world." The church has received financial support and training from Tearfund. It’s also part of the Micah Network, a regional initiative helping to prevent violence.
In a country of 8 million people, it’s thought there are around 7,000 – 10,000 street gang members.
As a nation, Honduras has one of highest number of murders globally. In a country of 8 million people, it’s thought there are around 7,000 – 10,000 street gang members.
The gangs in Flor del Campo are recruiting boys and girls as young as seven years old. Naomi and the leadership of her church sat down to talk and plan what they could do to stop this.
They wanted to be a positive influence among children and young people, and so formed a youth group called Jovenes Sembradores de Paz which translates as ‘Young Peace Sowers’.
"As a church we want to be a family that provides a space for recreation and acceptance, not crime or violence," says Naomi. "The church doesn’t look at the gang members with condemnation, but accepts them and loves them as they are."
FROM DESPAIR TO CARE
Naomi believes God has given her a specific calling: "He spoke to me and inspired me to serve and support the young people. Now my financial problems are forgotten because I really enjoy being with them. I visit them, and when I cannot go for security reasons, I call them."
"If I have a day of struggle and depression, I listen to the voice of God, who tells me to get up! The enemy doesn’t want me to work with the young people, but the voice of God is stronger."
"We know that some of the young people in the group are still part of a gang, but if we do not accept them and give them hope, who will?"
"Naomi's life has inspired and challenged me; she is an inspiration to so many children in her community. It is a joy to support her," said Alexis Pacheco from Tearfund’s Latin America and Caribbean team. "I ask for your prayers in order to continue supporting Naomi’s ministry, and others like her in Honduras and across Central America."
• Thank God that even in the midst of hardship and despair, God still has a plan for us and wants to help us to help others.
• Pray for young people caught up in gangs in Honduras, that they will find church youth groups like the Young Peace Sowers to inspire them.
• Ask God to bring peace to the hearts of those who perpetuate crime and violence in Honduras.