Guest Blogger: Rev. Peter Michael Aguilar (Pastor, FUMC Laredo, Texas)
When I meet people and they find out that I live in Laredo, Texas, their concerns are either those of the hot temperature, or of the drug related violence on the border. Unfortunately both are very real concerns; the more pressing is related to drug violence.
As of January 2011, the drug related violence had claimed over 34,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon had taken office and over 15,000 lives in 2010 alone. It is not uncommon to meet people in Laredo who have been affected directly or indirectly by this turmoil. However, very little of the violence trickles into Laredo from our neighbors of Nuevo Laredo, due largely in part to the efforts of Homeland Security and local law enforcement. We share the burden of these struggles with Mexico in that drug sales amount to a $27 billion a year industry, profiting largely from sales in the United States. Besides illegal drugs there is also human trafficking and the sex slave industry.
As a pastor I try to be as the Apostle Paul teaches, “I have become all things to all people…,” which in my context includes those who work in government and law enforcement. They experience some of the worst of humanity. It is a challenge for them to encounter violence and return home to be a loving and caring spouse or parent. Helping them to process unreality through the biblical narrative and prayer nurtures healing and empowers them to live their faith with integrity. Allow me to share a story of how I experienced being all things to all people played out in another venue.
Earth Day 2011 also happened to fall on Good Friday. I was invited to participate in a Kayak Race on the Rio Grande with several other pastors from Laredo. Three pastors, including me, volunteered. The organizer of the event was sympathetic to the fact that Earth Day and Good Friday fell on the same day and asked if we were interested in having a prayer for peace on the Rio Grande before the race. We thought about inviting our fellow pastors from Nuevo Laredo to join us on a pontoon to lift up a prayer for peace. Earth Day/Good Friday arrived. Pastors Mike, Paul and I stood on the pontoon and waited for our colleagues who unfortunately never arrived. We later found out that some did not join us for fear of threats from Drug Cartels. We prayed for them, for those who sell the drugs, the drug consumers, and those under the oppression of violence.
Praying on that pontoon for peace was an act of subversion, much like Jesus’ journey to the cross was an act of subversion. Acts of subversion come in many forms. It can be the church militant that marches to raise awareness of injustice; it can be the Word prophetic that challenges our comfortable assumptions of how we live our faith. And, subversion can be the church incarnate where we labor to bring healing, relieve suffering and model peace in the midst of evil.
Abraham Joshua Heschel refers to prayer as the home for the soul. The greatest act of subversion against the principalities and powers of darkness is prayer. Prayer precludes anything we do in the name of Christ Jesus because it helps us discern the desires of God. It anchors our soul in the certain hope of God’s presence and gives us the confidence that nothing can separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord as Romans 8:37-39 teaches.
I invite you to do something subversive for Jesus. Let your act of subversion begin with prayer before all else.