[Written Sunday, March 6, 2016]: Last night around 10:30pm my husband and I put on tall rubber boots and covered up in long pants and sleeves to protect us from the hungry mosquitos as we walked down the gravel road to the big front gate of the 17-acre property where we live and work.
We waited under the large lampposts for quite some time, swatting away hungry mosquitos, before finally turning around and returning home. Our night watchman, who is armed with nothing more than a flashlight, stood guard on his front porch about 100 yards away, having already done his rounds on the perimeter of the property and probably wondering why Darwin and I were doing such a strange night-walk.
The next morning (which is today), as we all got up and everyone started getting ready for the day, our older girls – who very well knew why we had taken that walk down to our large front gate – asked expectantly if the police had come as they had promised. We’ll be there is 10-15 minutes, the officer had told Darwin over the phone the night before. Well-acquainted with disappointments in these last several days, I didn’t even sugar-coat it and simply said, “No. Pa finally called the officer and he told us there was an auto accident on the highway that they had to attend to, so maybe they’ll come today.”
Sandra (15) and Jackeline (12) scoffed and mumbled, “They’ll never come.”
Last evening while our two eldest daughters – Dayana and Sandra (both 15 years old) – were at church with a local family whom they attend with several times per month, Sandra’s sexually abusive step-father (whom she was rescued from) found them and began harassing and threatening Sandra. He passed by the home of the family where they were spending a few minutes before attending the service, and began to verbally berate Sandra and Dayana, listing too accurately all of their movements over the last few weeks – the days and times they’ve left our home to attend music class or to work on a school assignment with their classmates, etc, evening listing the clothes they were wearing every time he’s seen them – telling them that he has ‘spies’ (his friends) in our little rural town (where he, too, lives) that are tracking their every move, and that he thinks that Sandra needs to come back home to him so that he can ‘care for her.’ The mother of the church-going family pulled Sandra inside the house (they were on the porch), and Sandra – obviously very shaken up – said she wanted to go home (to our house) immediately and not stay for the church service out of fear that he would go to the church and harm her.
She took a mototaxi (which is like a three-wheeled cross between a car and a motorcycle) up the long path to our home while Dayana decided to stay and attend the church service, seeing as the step-father is not directly looking to harm her, but Sandra.
Well, Dayana stayed, and later that evening (last night) she told us that as she was standing up to read one of the Bible verses in the church service, the step-dad showed up at the back door aggressively looking for Sandra, and passed by several times after that. Once Dayana had begun her journey home in mototaxi after the service had ended, she saw the step-dad on the way (or rather he saw her), him trying to glance inside the open-air mototaxi to see if Sandra was with Dayana.
So Sandra got home first, and we listened to her and prayed, and then once Dayana got home a couple hours later we sort of repeated the whole process again, inviting 12-year-olds Josselyn and Jackeline (all four of the girls share a room in our home and, thus, a special sense of sisterhood) to join us as we all sat on our bedroom floor – Darwin and I and our four eldest daughters, as we talked openly about many different topics for what I think were several hours. Josselyn sat cuddled up in my lap, Dayana rested her head comfortably on a pile of clean laundry that Darwin and I had not yet put away, and we all sat more or less sprawled-out or propped-up in a circle sharing, counseling, listening and encouraging.
After having prayed, addressed the emotional needs and fears of our girls, and talked once more about the strongholds of abuse that Satan holds in the lives of so many (and how Father God wants to liberate them, see them walk in victory in His love), we then did an honest brainstorm of what-to-do, seeing as normal answers such as ‘let’s-call-the-police’ aren’t hardly worth mentioning.
Already in these past four or five days we have had close to a dozen nothing-comes-of-it encounters with the police about a (different) child molester who our students have seen roaming the long, lonely road up to our property and whom is known to have already sexually abused several children from our community. We’ve called the Honduran 9-1-1 to report the man several times, we’ve called the private cell-phones of several police officers who work in our area, and Darwin even made a face-to-face visit with the police officers at the local police station a couple days ago, and our efforts to protect our students from this man have produced a lot of mind-boggling frustration for us and not much else. And all we are asking is that the police – who have their official command post literally 1.2 miles from our home/mission! – do a once-a-day (or once-a-week, once-a-year!) patrol – in their car, on foot, however – just so that there is a police presence and, hopefully, the child molester gets spooked. The day that Darwin went to file the official complaint at the police station (after we had called with detailed information to no avail many, many times), the police officer who received the complaint just stared at Darwin blankly and said, “Just let us know when he abuses someone. Until then we can’t do anything.”
We’ve called and they’ve (falsely) promised to pass by at a specific time (Friday and then again last night), but the majority of the time they flat-out say that they can’t (won’t) do anything. One of the students in our high school shared in prayer group the other day that his 16-year-old sister was held at knifepoint a few days ago as a man from our small rural community tried to rape her, but thankfully she escaped. Their parents went to the police station the next day to report the man (and they know exactly who it was!), but the police said dryly, “We can’t do anything because 24 hours have already passed.” Our 12-year-old daughter Josselyn shared with us last night that her grandfather had raped a young woman many years ago and that the police had put him in jail. For two days.
‘Utter bewilderment’ and ‘rage’ and ‘exhaustion’ do not even begin to describe how Darwin, our kids and I currently feel toward the ‘justice’ system here. Just yesterday as we passed through the nearby city of La Ceiba in our old pickup truck with our 8 kids on our way home from a dentist appointment I read a new billboard, advertising the police, that says, “I called 9-1-1, I filed a complaint, and that was enough (as in, the police then reacted and brought justice to the situation.)” I scoffed and my heart began to fill with a certain rage that is becoming too familiar.
I do not want to become a scoffer, and I am keenly aware that a deep cynicism is threatening to consume me. This morning as I was in the shower – a small trickle of cold water falling over me – I asked the Lord, “What do we do? What would you have us to do?”
It is all too easy to sit around and invent apocalyptic nightmares, imaging the worst-case-scenario, becoming suspicious of everyone, generally giving in to fear and falling in the same pit as nearly everyone else. (The majority of people here fear leaving their homes at night, don’t send their kids on public transportation, build tall, barbed-wire prison-like walls around their homes and live under a very real cloud of constant fear and doom, which go directly against the peace-that-passes-understanding that Christ wants to bestow on us.)
Darwin and I have intentionally swung the other direction and have even begun discerning if we should go to the step-father’s home in a bold but loving confrontation and share with him God’s liberating Word, possibly inviting other Christian neighbors to join us.
So as I stood there, little drops of cold water sliding over my skin in the shower this morning, the only answer I heard immediately and clearly to my question of what-would-the-Lord-have-us-to-do was this: “Be still and know that I am God.”
So please pray with and for us right now, especially in regards to these two cases – Sandra’s step-father who is following and threatening her (and who knows where we live because our town is so small) and the other child molester who has been hiding out along the road to our home/mission and who several concerned students and parents have told me is trying to grab our students on their way to classes each morning. Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us, so I ask for special prayers of deliverance, repentance and transformation for these two men, whether the Lord chooses to use us as His instruments to confront them or if He reaches them in anther way. Please pray God’s divine protection over all 28 of our students and over Sandra during this time of very real danger. Pray also for the police – that they may be prompted to begin patrolling the 1.2-mile stretch of gravel road that leads up to our property, and that they may actually begin responding to the people’s cries for justice. And, perhaps most importantly of all: pray that the Lord may saturate our hearts and minds with His perfect peace and that we may not fall prey to living in constant fear and dread. May we fear only God Himself and not men!
Isaiah 9:1-7 [What we have been studying in our community Bible study]: Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever…The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod…The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!