Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wait for it...

11 years old - first fight. Broke both arms and 4 ribs on two high school kids.
12 years old - killed for the first time
14 years old - went to church once, liked it, never went back
15 years old - had bodyguards and a chauffeur for his stolen car

50 kids in the Alonzo Movement listened to this autobiography on the soccer field at the El Cordero school in Flor del Campo.  Angelo, a tough, muscular man dressed all in black continued with his story that included an adolescence of murder for the fun of it, ascent to power, intimidation and domination.  His "career" continued to grow as his heart hardened to the point of non-existence.  "I had no heart," Angelo said repeatedly. 

Gabriel and the Alonzo kids listening...
At 16, he was offered 24,000 lempira to steal a specific kind of car.   He and a friend agreed.  Moments later, that type of car pulled up at a nearby corner.  Pulling their guns, they forced the driver over to the passenger seat.  Angelo's friend got in the driver's seat, Angelo in the back.  The friend pushed the gun into the man's side.  Angelo had his gun pointed at his back in one hand and a machete in the other.  "If you think you can get away before I shoot this gun, try it," warned Angelo.   The friend said, "Man you are going to die."  The man responded, "To live is Christ, to die is gain."  Again the friend threatened the man.  "I want to live.  I have two small children at home.  But, to live is Christ, to die is gain."  Angelo silently put his gun back in his pocket.  They finally let the man go and took the car to collect their money.

Angelo's life continued on track, growing in reputation, respect and power from all those he dominated.  At one time he had 12 girlfriends and hundreds of people who revered or feared him.  He had everything he had ever wanted.   He was the go-to guy for any theft, beating or assassination anyone wanted done.

Angelo reading the Bible
At 19, on May 5, 1998 he was arrested and convicted for 11 murders and one assassination.  Sentenced to life in prison, Angelo simply moved his domain from Flor to the prison.   (Mike Sabback and the men on his team spent today at the high security prison.  They described Honduran prisons as more like college campuses. The inmates are free to move around within the walls as they choose, they have restaurants and micro-enterprises! ) He quickly established himself as the "baddest" man there.  Another inmate was his personal cook.  He controlled the sale and use of marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs.  He continued killing people who crossed him.  He presided over hundreds of inmates.  The one group he left alone were the Christians because he recognized they were beyond his power just as the man in the car was.   One day, Angelo walked into a meeting of all of his followers and announced that from that day forward he would not drink, take drugs or be violent against another person again.  He had decided to follow Christ, that higher power.  And he did and does.  He is out of prison, still on probation, studying to be a Pastor.

Two things about his story are remarkable to me.  First, he did not have a dramatic conversion after he had hit rock bottom.  No, he was at the top of his game.  The Alpha Male of the prison.   Angelo wasn't desperate for salvation, he wasn't at death's door or suffering from some horrible illness.  He just recognized there was a better way, Christ's way, and believed.

The second remarkable thing was the scene in the carjacking.  Faced with certain death, the car owner responded with Scripture.  And threatened again with a violent death, he repeated Scripture.   Amazing but not the most remarkable part of the story.   The man in the car living his faith in the darkest moment of his life brings the Light to a man years later.  Live your faith and then wait for it...someone's life may be changed.

The Alonzo kids praying