Here is the rest of the story that we published in our August Newsletter which should arrive in your inbox this afternoon. If you didn’t read the first part, you can subscribe to our newsletter using the button on the right “Click Here to Sign Up”.
Gavriel confessed that he was an alcohol and drug abuser and was a member of a street gang … … the arch-rival of Luis Miguel’s gang. Members of these gangs hate each other with a passion, a hate that drives them to kill each other in droves throughout Central America and in the inner cities of America.
I sensed that God wanted to do something beyond “just” saving Gavriel and forgiving him of his sins. I sensed that he wanted to begin the process of healing the hatred that existed in Gavriel’s heart … and that he wanted to do it through Luis Miguel. I invited Luis Miguel into our conversation and asked him to share his testimony of what Jesus had done in his life. As Miguel disclosed his former leadership of a gang, and recounted the many violent acts that he had performed as a gang member, I could see Gavriel’s eyes narrow. For a moment, I began to regret what I had started. But then God reminded me that He had started this exchange, not me, and that He was moving in this encounter. I immediately felt God’s peace and relaxed as He began to work through Luis Miguel. When Luis finished his testimony, I informed him that Gavriel was a gang member. He immediately smiled and nothing but pure love began to flow from Luis to Gavriel. Luis Miguel shared with Gavriel the wonders that God had been doing in his life and how God had freed him from the unbearable burdens of hate, fear, unforgiveness, and the unending desires of exacting revenge against one’s enemies. In place of these burdens, God was teaching him to love his enemies. He told Gavriel that in Jesus he could be free as well. The two young men shook hands and embraced. They then took some seats in the worship hall and talked for fifteen more minutes. At the end of the conversation, Luis Miguel laid hands upon Gavriel and prayed for him.
In the world of violent street gangs, this kind of reconciliation between adversaries rarely, if ever, happens. The pressure to harm, or even kill, one’s rivals is intense. Any signs of perceived weakness can prove fatal in the life of a gang member. However, the love of God is more powerful than any peer pressure, any hatred, or any fear. God’s love breaks through these walls and penetrates the soul of a man. When one experiences the love and presence of God in their life, everything begins to change. I once was an alcoholic, a violent man, filled with past relational wounds and hidden insecurities. But Jesus, in his great love for me, forgave me of my sins, healed my wounds, and set me free from my addictions. I believe that God has a similar plan for Gavriel. I am delighting in Jesus, my Lord and my God, that he “did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:55) Glory to God in the highest!