Organized Crime, Pennsylvania Stabbing & the Grace of God.

I still remember my conversation about organized crime and Mexican violence in the border with the parent of one of my former piano students, back in 2010, who had recently moved down to the Texas-Mexican border from New York to work at a Reynosa (Mexico) maquiladora. He reminded me that he wasn't necessarily scare to drive back and forth every day from Mission, Texas to Reynosa, Mexico; he was simply cautious especially when his ethnicity quickly proclaimed he wasn't an indigenous resident of the deep-South Texas geography. He continued to dissect in detail the tangible violence and crime realities of humongous cities such as New York (at least compare RGV towns). His interesting and personal conversation made it sound that he actually was on familiar territory when it comes to violence, just with an obvious different cultural, ethnic and contextual surroundings from his beloved up-state New York.

Areli had a chance to speak to one of our church families last Sunday as they described in detail the horror of living through a two-hour confrontation between Mexican cartels and the Mexican Army, right outside their work place. It was literally a life and death situation as both parties utilized some of the heaviest artillery without consideration of any civilian casualties, nor the fact they were surrounded, as it is typically in Mexico, by residential homes and many folks who couldn't get away from such nightmare. Yet, we were grateful to hear the testimony live from our brothers in the faith instead of seeing their pictures on the news that night.

I spoke on the phone with one of my former college professors and mentors who recently spent two weeks in Eastern-Europe teaching Hermeneutics to ten pastors who last month came out of prison as a result of preaching the Gospel in closed-Islamic countries. Persecution to the Christian community is as real around the globe as organized crime gradually consumes and deteriorates our Texas-Mexico border cities.

As I met with seven High School parents last night, and after having most of our conversation focused on the tragic Pennsylvanian stabbing that affected 22 individuals; we all came to the conclusion that through the lenses of Genesis 3 (the fall of man), the question is not why would a 16 year old hurt and attack fellow students and professors in a high school but instead why were our own high school kids in the Rio Grande Valley exempt from such tragic and irreversible experiences f rom yesterday?

If the evil actions of the Pennsylvania high school student did not make him a sinner or a deprived individual but instead, because he is a broken-vassal (like all of us) he then attacked his fellow classmates; then we must embrace the world-view of Genesis 3 as the Scriptures portray the reality of our dysfunctional condition of our darkness and depravity. If we can agree that the solution of our of our world-wide reality is not the absence of violence but the presence of the God who has loved us so much that He has exposed our true condition in order for us to seek repentance and wholeness through the One (Jesus) who ultimately must reveal our brokenness before He restores our condition.

By no means I am indulging nor applauding the behavior and actions portrayed by Alex Hribal, the 16-year old student who police say stabbed 22 people on Wednesday at his Pennsylvania high school, but the reality is that the experience (rebellion before God) of Genesis 3 has affected not only our human condition but the world as a whole, thus suffering is a clear reality that even when you place your faith in Jesus or you may identify as a non-religious affiliation type of person; at the end suffering makes no distinction of your personal convictions neither preferences. I do have to admit, after pursuing the heart of God for the last 24 years, being a follower of Christ allows me to process tragedy through the lenses of the Bible, thus giving me the privilege to avoid encountering difficulties alone, which at the end of our conversation, no one was created to face life on their own.

As I visited with my three teenagers last night in their, as I do every single night, and as they went to sleep, I was reminded that the difference between Areli and I sitting in their bedrooms at home compare to the many Pennsylvanian parents and family members who spent last night around multiple hospitals with their wounded teenagers was the grace of God. Again, according to our condition of rebellion and sinfulness, no teenager deserved to sleep in his/her own bed last night, everyone of us deserves death and eternal separation not only from our loved ones but also from God; thus the Apostle Paul reminds us..."But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

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