Two days ago I was informed that a young man named Charly, who grew up at El Hogar, was murdered on Tuesday. Three members of our congregation had sponsored him, loved him and prayed for him for years, first connecting with him when he was a small boy. El Hogar had a dramatic impact on his life and after leaving El Hogar he was slowly but surely pursuing his dreams. All those dreams came to an end on Tuesday.
As the Easter season comes to an end and in light of Charly’s death, a few reflections:
First, the risen Christ brings into being a family that transcends biological or ethnic connection. When I heard that Charly had been murdered, my first thought was how sad his “family” at St. Timothy’s would be. People at St. Timothy’s develop deep connections with the boys and girls at El Hogar, and his death is the loss of one of our own.
Secondly, the risen Christ does amazing things through the love of the staff and supporters of El Hogar. Boys and girls from desperate situations are given a childhood and teenage years full of love and the basic necessities of life. Therefore, although Charly’s death is tragic, we should never lose sight of how much life El Hogar made possible for him.
Thirdly, the risen Christ is surely the power that keeps El Hogar going even though El Hogar exists in a city and country that is so completely broken. It would be easy to fall into despair and say “What difference does it make that we rescue a relatively small handful of boys and girls when the rest of Honduran society is so bent on self-destruction.” But we know that it makes a big difference. We know that El Hogar is a community that gives us hope that the current situation in Honduras is not the last word.
Finally, I was deeply moved by the attached photograph taken after the funeral. The picture is of Lazaro, a long time staff member and also a former student at El Hogar, praying at Charly’s funeral with other boys he helped raise. I wondered what was going through the minds of these young men. “Will I be a victim of senseless violence one day? Should I risk having hopes and dreams?” I wondered if Lazaro was saying to these young men what Jesus said to his disciples before he left them: “Let not your hearts be troubled…Love one another…If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you…Father protect them from the evil one.” I wondered if in their grief they went back into their daily lives inspired by the risen Christ to press on.
Pray that the El Hogar community will be comforted during this difficult time. Pray that all of us will know the life-giving power of the risen Christ even when our dreams come to an end.