Christmas in Colombia
I’ve been thinking a lot about future lately. I began near Christmas.
I was watching the show Narcos on Netflix. Narcos is about the Colombian drug cartels in the late 1980’s. The show outlines the power and influence the cartels wielded, and how Colombia and the US fought them.
The battle came to a head in the 1990 Colombian presidential elections. A candidate was assassinated by the cartel because of his tough stance on the drug business. During the funeral, his son called on an advisor to step up and fill his position.
It was not an easy decision to make. The cartels controlled Colombia through violence in the late 1980’s. In one year alone there were over 20,000 homicides in Bogota, a city of 2.3 million people. By comparison, in the same year, New York (a city of over 8 million) had only a little over 2,000 homicides.
It wasn’t just the outlaw at risk. It was judges, politicians, policemen – even presidential hopefuls who felt the wrath of the cartels. It was a culture out of control. By all indication, there was no future for anyone in Colombia.
Which brings me back to Christmas.
I wonder if the feeling was the same in Jerusalem before the first Christmas? Years of violence and oppression by evil overlords held the Jewish people down. A Messiah couldn’t come soon enough.
They needed a future.
There WILL be a Future
In Colombia, Cesar Gaviria chose to take on the responsibility of running for president in his mentor’s shoes. He also continued the hardline stance on the drug cartel. However, he changed the tone with one small phrase, his campaign slogan –
There will be a future.
His willingness to stand up to the cartel, and his belief in the Colombian people propelled him to victory. During his time in office the number one drug lord first imprisoned, and then killed after escaping prison. The future of Colombia was indeed changed.
We need a Future
In our current political state, it pays to scare. We are told in so many words, “Without me, there is no future.” From a marketing standpoint, it makes perfect sense. It’s genius. Spiritually, it feeds the fire of fear in our hearts. Not only that – it’s false.
In Mexico, I met a man named Edgar. Edgar came by our job site one day to tell his story. To be honest, I was in no mood to listen. We were behind in the project, it was late in the day, we had 2 more cuts to make, and light was running away.
Dutifully, I listened to Edgar tell his story.
He had been a hitman in a local cartel. Edgar had reason to fear. Being a hitman is not job secure living. Realizing there was no future for him, Edgar became suicidal. He took one last job before he would end his life. That job happened to be killing a Christian. Edgar tracked him to a church, walked in, prepared to kill the man and heard this:
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor… -1 Timothy 1:12-13
Edgar was a violent man. Having none, all he wanted a bit of hope. Paul, the author, was also a violent man, and he found hope. The door cracked open. Maybe, just maybe, there was hope…
Faintly, Edgar’s heart heard, “There will be a Future.”
We too, need hope. We need someone whispering to our hearts, “There will be a Future.”
There is a FUTURE.
In spite of what the politicians, the nightly news and your aunt Bertha tells you, there is a future. There is hope. Whether you are a Mexican hitman, a pastor or something in between, there is hope.
There is a future.
May this bit of reading you’re doing right now whisper to your heart, There WILL be a Future.