Living Life on the Edge!
What does it mean to live life on the edge?
To live life on the edge means living a life with plenty of risks and danger i.e. doing something in an extreme and unusual way. It’s also a way to lead an adventurous lifestyle by facing new challenges and beating odds with new ways. That’s a good way to describe the life of many young people in El Salvador, Central America. Samuel, 13, lives “on the edge” each and every day.
We’ve known Samuel for about 2 years and have seen God transform his life though a personal relationship with Christ and participation in church life. Samuel has a story that is not unique here but definitely not common in Canada. He and his family were forced to move due to gang threats and intimidation. They were located on the boarder of MS 13 and Barrio 18 gang territory. This affected everything about their lives as violence and death was commonplace. He had to change schools, friends and communities. One of his friends, only 11 at the time, was brutally murdered along with other family members, all related to gang intimidation.
At this young age, Samuel has experienced more trauma than most his age in Canada. Two of his older brothers left El Salvador and his older sister disappeared and was found murdered, and just this past May 2019, his mother was killed in a tragic accident. Samuel has experienced so much loss in his 13 years. But when talking to him about this, he is quick to mention that it is Jesus in his life that gives him hope for his future. Two years ago in Sunday School Samuel gave his heart to the Lord and began making different choices. There was a time when he didn’t want to go to school, but once given a school scholarship and lots of encouragement, he continued.
He proudly shows me his certificate of academic achievement for placing 2nd in 5th grade last year. When asked what he wants to be he quickly answers, “an architect”. He loves soccer, math and music and is now receiving classes at the Corinto church to play guitar. He wants to be part of the worship team. His church family is important in his life and he hangs out at the church every day. How is this living life on the edge? He chooses each day to come to church, which means walking in the community where at any time things can become unsafe due to gang and police presence. Walking in a community alone in El Salvador is not like Canada, it’s always risky. He walks to school, church, and home. Not much time to play as it’s not safe outside these places.
He likes to climb the mango tree in his yard and sit there eating mangos. Last week, the police came through with guns ready and raised as always but they were fixed on him, sitting in the tree eating mangos as they thought he was a “watcher” and could be armed. At 13, he is
the prime age police watch for signs of gang affiliation. Being in school and serving the Lord makes him less suspicious to police and gang recruiters. He says he wants to be different from the past history of his family – one of addiction, violence and not serving the Lord. He wants to seek God first with all his heart and trust He will help him be successful in life. Faith in Jesus, love from his family and spiritual family, along with a school scholarship, this is all part of this teens’ continued success.
Please pray for Samuel and all scholarship students in El Salvador that they will be the ones helping make El Salvador a better place in the name of Jesus.
Ron & Sherry Lapka
Global Workers in El Salvador