In November, I was traveling from San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador to Managua, Nicaragua in Ticabus. Arriving at the Salvadoran side of the border with Honduras, I was writing in my diary when a police officer entered the bus to make a check. I did not pay attention to him, because I was focused on my thinking. I think that made him suspicious – he might have thought I was hiding myself from him behind my writing and I was asked to dismount the bus for a check. I got off the bus, picked up my suitcase, and went to an office. In it there were three hostile policemen who rudely started interrogating me about who I was and what I do. I told them that I am a missionary and pastor. Checking my luggage, they found my prayer cards and with them, they corroborated what I was saying. After a while I was released. I left was very angry about their rude treatment.
Weeks after this incident, I went to the missionary conference security training. Interestingly much of the training focused on how to deal with situations such as the one I lived at that border. We were taught that we must have a simple truthful explanation of who we are and what we do, and stick to it during the interrogation. If we have to expand the dialogue, we could introduce aspects that are humanizing and tell them of places where they can verify our word and especially to avoid discussion of issues that trigger discomfort. In the light of these teachings, which were much deeper, I evaluated my behavior at that border and I saw that I had handled it very appropriately.
Despite the fact that I passed the test, the incident continued to irritate me. When I went to El Salvador, from where was leaving, I learned about Charlie, a young boy whose best friend disappeared and who now lived terrified by the gangs. One gang faction blamed him of having handed his friend over to the opposite gang, and the other faction chased him for introducing his friend into their territory; they both threatened him with death. He could not endure more and choose to migrate without documents to the North. Right now he is making the journey to the United States. From El Salvador, I sent him messages by Whatsapp. He told me that he hopes to meet with his mother, and that he spent a long time in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, and also in Monterey.
In this young boy I see all travelers like him. I was legal on the bus and it still bothered me the way they treated me. He is going without documents. He will not be treated the same way I was, they will not be considerate. He is exposing himself to assaults, extortions, kidnappings – fleeing violence, looking for safety.
A calling to open safe roads in the 2017
May the light that brings the New Year open safe roads to those who are in transit. Many are traveling as Jesus went to Egypt, terrified of a bloodthirsty Herod; fearing being murdered as all of the 2-year-olds were. In the journey of Jesus there was a protective light. That light is the one that you and I have to turn on in order to build worlds of peace.
The Continental Christian Network for Peace (CCNP) is unifying its forces to bring peace, so that all are safety, so that the One who came illuminates our world. Some pray for peace, but imagine it as inside tranquility, and do nothing to bring God’s domain on Earth. Charlie invites us to fight to bring the light. May I offer myself to you, Lord, as you gave yourself to the cause of your Father, so all of us may do so!
Ricardo Mayol serves with the Ecumenical Christian Council of Guatemala (Consejo Ecuménico Cristiano de Guatemala – CECG). His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.