Sunday, June 3, 2012

Let us live in the Kingdom of Life

Many of my readers keep up with me and events in my family and church through Facebook, but posts get lost in the newsfeed and forgotton with the passage of time. Therefore, I believe it would be good to make an entry recording the tragedy of my nephew's murder this week.

Cristian Daniel, son of my husband's youngest sister Paty, had turned 16 in October 2011, and was having a good time with the family celebrating his cousin's 9th birthday on May 29th. In Ruthie's words, "He was so happy and alive." While I don't want to idealize his life and character, neither will I publish all the unfavorable details. What I will say is that his life was full of possibilities for a bright future, if only he would have taken counsel from aunts and uncles.

Two days later, just 10 days after the second anniversary of his Dad's death, Cristian went to hang out with his (shady) friends on the plaza by his house. None of them imagined that some other teens like themselves were sent that day to punish one by taking his life, apparently for working for the wrong cartel. An SUV came and the kids jumped out carrying weapons that were nearly as long as the kids were tall, they caught and wrangled the boy on their list and ripped his body open with gun-shells. The rest of the kids scattered, some managing to get into their house, but another was taken into the vehicle, and my nephew took two bullets in his side before they ran the SUV over him four times. He lived for about an hour before the ambulance came, but as he really couldn't survive and the hospitals refuse to take victims of the narco-cartels, he was left to die on the plaza.

On that fateful Thursday morning, I felt a sudden apprehension about my husband going to the prison to preach, but he assured me all would be fine. How could we have prepared for the phone call shortly after lunch? Chuy went to his sister's house where several more of the family gathered, and after I confirmed the news, I had the painful task of informing my three young daughters that their cousin had his life stolen from him. To their questions I replied in the simplest, yet truthful way I could find. Only God knows if he had a moment to turn his heart to Jesus; this was NOT God's will for him, rather, it was the work of our enemy who steals, kills and destroys. We do not need to fear because we belong to the Kingdom of Life, and God's Spirit guides us. He would guide all, but not all are willing to listen to Him and follow His leading.

In the following painful hours, Chuy, his sister and their brother-in-law saw to the legal requirements and funeral arrangements (witnessing the breaking in and stripping of a vehicle as they drove on an overpass). The two men lived through the horrific experience of identifying the mangled body which I won't describe to you, but I do ask you to pray that the images of him and the other cadavers be erased from their minds. From home, I made some calls and got our evening church meeting and birthday celebration covered, delivering the cake I had already made for it. A little niece played with the girls, which I think helped them all deal with the shock and grief and confusion. I dealt with it by cooking up a storm to feed the family supper at the funeral home, trying to be of some comfort and aid to them.

It seems that there were multiple murders and police arrests on Thursday, and Chuy preferred that I wait for him at home and he brought a little nephew to spend the night. The next morning those two went back with the family and the girls alternated playing with helping clean up the house. Shortly after noon we all went to the funeral home where we mourned with the rest of the mourners. People grieve in many different ways, but I was thankful that even with all the sobbing, Ruthie included, there were no hysterics as in recent funerals I've had to attend. The father's family had planned to take the boy back to El Paso the next week to spend the summer with them, and one aunt loudly repeated, "Cristian! wake up, we've come for you!" Little Grace was rather stoic until his coffin was lowered into the ground, Rebeca had tears streaming down her face, and Ruthie spent many minutes openly crying, for she grieved that he may not have been saved and she had not been able to be close to him, "And now I'll never see him again!" All who fit into the tiny room listened attentively to Chuy's words before the body, urging all to look for their comfort in God and to consider their own eternity.

About 75 people stood around his coffin at the graveyard on an unusually cool June first. I kept my girls close to my body trying to give them support and comfort while allowing them to grieve as they would. Another cousin, big and tall, kept his arm around Rebeca who stood behind me, while Chuy stayed close to his sisters. My own tears were for the mourners and for the anger of the injustice of a young life cut too short. These young children, the teenage friends, the cousins, should not be suffering this kind of tragedy! My daughters should not have been to four funerals in three years!!

The immediate family gathered at my mother-in-laws to rest and eat together, trying to digest all that had occurred in the previous 28 hours. Details were shared and discussed, a bit of humor lightened the mood now and then, and we all were grateful that Cristian's mother and sister were able to sleep for a few hours. The younger kids played out in the street, enjoying the cool air and shaking off some of the gloom in their hearts.

In closing, I'd like to say to you what I tried to say to my girls. What we just lived through was pure evil. It is exactly what our enemy wants to do: to steal (joy, peace, love, life), kill, and destroy whatever is left over. So let us not participate in his kingdom, in his tactics, but let us love one another, forgiving as Christ forgives us. Let us be patient with each other and be proactive about sharing God's love with others. Let us live according to the Kingdom of Heaven, bringing it close to those who are still in the kingdom of darkness.

Thank you for your prayers for the family, especially that Paty and Ayra, Cristian's sister, would finally stop running from the ONE who loves them and would give them abundant life, peace, love, joy, and comfort.

Col 1:13  He has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of the Son whom he loves.


  1. Rose, my heart breaks at what this means for your family. God bless friend, God BLESS!

  2. mourning with you all.....Love, Mom.....

  3. I have been praying daily, at whatever moment the Lord brings this to mind, for you, your family, and for Chuy's family. Love, B.J.

  4. Thank you for the prayers. At nearly five months from this tragedy, my sister-in-law appears to be doing well. She is engaged to be married and just became a grandmother, both of which give her strength and motives to carry on with life. We continue to pray that she will turn her heart to Jesus.