Valarie Englert, Senior Pastor
EDITOR’S NOTE: Senior Pastor Valarie Englert is in Honduras with Bishop Mike McKee and other clergy and lay representatives of the North Texas Conference to explore partnering opportunities with Mission Honduras. This is from their second day (Tuesday, September 10) in Honduras.
“This congregation is located in a gang-controlled area,” began the female pastor of a United Methodist Church about 45 minutes outside of Tegucigalpa.
Several intakes of breath could be heard.
The pastor continued, “But I am not afraid. I know these kids in this gang. I taught them in school.”
A question arose from one in our group: “Do you or any of your church members pay the tax to the gang?”
“No, we pay no tax. The gang sees this church as their church,” she replied.
I’ve been pondering this since I heard the pastor say it Tuesday afternoon.
What does it mean in gospel terms to have a violent gang, practiced in extortion and murder, say that a church is their church?
My middle class US Protestant self is challenged by this. But I also wonder: for whom did Jesus bring the gospel? Just those who ‘know the ropes’ religiously speaking? Or for those who are lost, whether it be to violence or poverty?
Come to think of it, the gospel is for both those who know God (or perhaps think they do) and for those who are beyond the pale of our daily comforts and routines.
My own routine and comforts have been interrupted this week in Honduras. That’s the disruption of the gospel for you.
May we all experience the disrupting power of Jesus’ Christ good news – for us all.