November 16, 2022 | View All Stories

Help in a Place of Violence: Child Victim of Street Violence Finds Hope in ANM Christian Partner

Help in a Place of Violence

The level of violence in Latin American countries is difficult to comprehend for y most of the Western world. Samuel’s story is about a child playing in the street when a random bullet comes at him. Here, in his own words, is what Samuel of Ecuador experienced:

“At the age of 7, I was playing with my neighbor, when suddenly I felt something fall on my head and I fell to the ground. It was one stray bullet that went in and out of my skull. This is due to the high level of crime in the community. They took me to the hospital; for a moment, I lost my sight. Even so, I [was able to]  talk. My mom was very desperate, but an aunt who is a Christian and close to me began to pray for me. God certainly did a miracle. [During a] time of being at home, a medicine made me sick. I began to have reactions [to] strangers, and [I had] a strong headache. [Because of] all of these [they] took me to a doctor, and they had to admit me back to the emergency operating room. Those were difficult times for me and for my family, but despite all that, I thank God because I have life.

His Life Changed Drastically

Samuel continued his story, “After that accident, I became an introverted child, very quiet. I [was afraid and] rarely went out of [my] home. At the age of 14, I heard about Refugio Vida [Shelter Life] and did not hesitate to attend because I knew I would find something good there. Despite [my] being quiet, little by little, I was integrated into each activity. I had the opportunity to make new friends. I have learned a lot from the Word of God. In all this time, I have seen the Refuge as a Home, as a great family. This year, 2020 has been so difficult, [yet] I am still grateful to God and…grateful to Refugio Vida. Because in the hardest moments, when we didn’t have [food] to eat, the Pastors surprised us with a bag of food, with some delicious arepas (flat cornmeal cakes) or a delicious lunch, and that filled us with great joy because we knew that God answered our prayers. For all these things, I serve God, and I will not tire of doing so. I pray to God that [He] continues blessing Refugio Vida, the entire work team, and all the people who work there.”

Violence is a Way of Life

Renee Lilly, Regional Director for Latin America, explained “Violence in Latin America is infamous, if not legendary.” The region represents only 8% of the world’s population yet is responsible for approximately 30% of all violent crimes globally, especially murder. This region also has large numbers of domestic murders against women. 

Rescue.org reports that high rates of violence are the primary reason why 237,000 people fled from the region in 2020 alone, seeking a safe refuge. Two countries, Venezuela and Honduras, stand out in the sea of research on the issue. Honduras is considered the deadliest place in Central America, with the brutal slaughter of at least three people every week in the country’s inner cities. It holds the dubious honor of being #2 in the list of most homicidal countries, with 41.2 murders per 100,000 people. Venezuela has the highest murder rate in continental Latin America, with 40.9 deaths per 100,000. 

Why all the bloodshed? There are numerous issues, both cultural and societal, that blend to create this nightmare. Some top reasons are the incredibly high poverty rates (fueled by lack of education and high unemployment or underemployment), the control that drug traffickers exert over every level of government, and the inevitable corruption that results. To quote Meghan Lopez of the International Rescue Committee, “Following some of the longest lockdowns globally, much of Latin America is facing weakened economies, inequity, decreased law enforcement capabilities, and an uptick in organized crime. . .these factors have led to homicides and violence peaking across the region.”

Is it any wonder that our missionaries have their work cut out for them to bring the hope of Jesus into such a frightening and bleak environment?

How Can We Help?

Despite the corruption in Latin America, God is using native missionaries to minister to people trapped in a cycle of corruption, fear, danger, and poverty. There are ways you can be a part of relieving the fear and poverty. Take a look at the Gift Catalog to find ways you can contribute to helping those lost or living in fear and danger. The gift of a soccer ball can offer hope to a child. Donating for a newborn to be cared for may save their life. A bottle of water or a pair of socks can show the love of Jesus to a desperate child. Your gifts can make a difference in the life of the person who receives them for eternity.

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Sue Morris is a writer with ANM's Marketing team.

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