An Incarnation in Guatemala

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Rios Montt

Rios Montt

“16 of my friends and classmates disappeared.”

“My brother had his testicles cut out with razor blades and bled to death.”

“My cousin had all of his fingernails pulled out before he was shot in the head.”

“Our bishop was beat to death with one rock.”

“The soldiers consistently remarked, ‘The best way to stop the insurgency was to kill the insurgent in the womb.’”


Comments like these filled my day.  The interactions were unbelievably intense.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  The weight of these realities left me exhausted with many thoughts.


How are we to react to a world gone mad?  Where in these hellacious realities is Jesus?


I think the best answer is incarnated directly in the hellacious realities.  Jesus disappeared.  The testicles of Jesus were cut off with razor blades.  The fingernails of Jesus were pulled out before the shot to the head.  Jesus was beat to death with a rock.  The womb of Jesus was cut open and her child was pulled out.  If we are to believe in a God that has taken on human form, joined us in our struggle, and incarnated into the least of these, then there is no question that all of these statements are true.


The nature of the incarnation continued to surface.


I encountered two ministers.  One knew that he was a minister.  The other had no idea, but I found him to be a minister of deep secular conviction.


I encountered the secular minister first.  He was the consummate professional, briefcase and all.  During the Guatemalan Civil War, he was a clandestine communicator between various guerilla organizations and students at universities.  Many of his friends were killed and he was forced to go into hiding on numerous occasions.  The minister presented a short history of Guatemala then moved to the present day conviction of Rios Montt.  The level of passion in the room skyrocketed.  The minister declared the perpetrators of the genocide evil and demanded justice.  He spoke lovingly of his friends and family who died.  “Rios Montt should be tortured and killed,” he declared.  In his world, there was good and there was evil.  Justice could not come without vengeance.  The only way that he could remember his friends was to hold those who killed them responsible.  There was no mistaking his conviction.


I encountered the other minister second.  He was disheveled and rambunctious.  During the Guatemalan Civil War, he was threatened and forced to leave Guatemala on multiple occasions.  The gentleman told his story.  Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, his dad was in and out of jail on six different occasions for subversive activities.  In 1978, his brother was tortured and killed.  When the conviction of Rios Montt came up, passion in the room skyrocketed once more.  He spoke lovingly of his friends and family who were killed and persecuted.  Then, much to the surprise of everyone in the room, he thrust his whole body forward and boldly declared, “The 86-year-old Rios Montt is a victim in need of our attention.  He was a victim of the oligarchy of Guatemala, greed, corruption, and the foreign policy of the Reagan Administration.  Why can’t we just forgive him and move on?  You scream of justice, but forget that justice is in the hands of God.  Will we be the voice of Jesus asking for forgiveness for those who have persecuted us?  Or will we be the ones sick with vengeance and hate?  Forgiveness is the only way to free us all.”  There was no mistaking his conviction.


I know who was the incarnation for me.



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