Dark Side of the River

Poverty is not the problem, it is the symptom. The problem is an inability to share and to distribute the wealth.

In 10 or 20 years, these kids roaming the streets will be the same kind of criminals we see here today. They will be killing and trying to smuggle drugs because they won’t see the value in doing anything else. They were never given the opportunity to become an engineer or a doctor, or a teacher. If the only thing they learned was what they learned in the streets, if all they saw were people being murdered, if no one ever took them to church and no one lavished them with attention, I can assure you, they will become criminals.

Luis Fernando Cárdenas

Amor por Juarez

July was the deadliest month in the recent history of Ciudad Juarez (BOO!) and still it sits, plastered to the desert dust like a giant glowing pulsating elephant in the room. Outside my window buses roll by, kids are kicking a half-deflated soccer ball in the street, and tomorrow I will be in El Paso to pick up a small group of folks that is coming to visit us. I will run errands, spend my day in the land of the free, rub shoulders with the half-million people that live in one of the safest cities in the world; I will come home, pass through the magic-curtain back to the colonia, back to Juarez, the deadliest city in Mexico.

This is a weird place to live.

Luis Fernando Cárdenas posted his article on the El Paso’s online newspaper last month; it is one of the first pieces written towards hope that I have seen and one of the first articles that I have read in some time that speaks of the core infection of Mexico. Please, read it.

Hearing El Pasonians talk proudly about NOT crossing the border to see their family in Juarez is as much a slap in the face as so-called christians that spend $16 million dollars on a church building looming so high and extravagant that it casts a mocking shadow on its poor neighbors on the dark side of the river. If our nations churches won’t share and distribute the wealth, then we have indeed lost “the good fight.” Good ideas, catered-theology, politics without action, it is all just a sound byte, a clanging bell. What saddens me is that our best idea (as Americans) was to sink over $30 billion dollars into a fence and hundreds of millions more into the bottomless pit of the “War on Drugs.”

Living in the dark, covering our ears and tossing billions of dollars towards a war that cannot be one with AK-47’s and helicopters is the easy way out. We are at the crossroads of fear and hope. People are scrambling to find something solid to build on, something more to believe in. We cannot continue ignoring our impoverished neighbors.


7 Responses to “Dark Side of the River”

  1. Hey M&M,

    This upsets me, and I live – what 1500?– miles away from the situation. The NEAREST of such situations. Well, that’s not quite true. We have neither a shortage of poor, hopeless, “doomed” people here in the Ozarks, nor of rich, comfortable churches. I love you guys. I miss you. I pray for you.


    P.S. I just bought “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” and “God’s Middle Finger.” I’m not sure when I’ll get to read them (they are in the middle of a long queue), but I am excited to.

  2. We were so encourage to hear at church on Sunday that our church went to Mexico (down into Baja) and build 2 houses for people that had been promised homes by 2 different churches that cancelled their trips this summer. The pictures they brought back were fantastic.

    Oh, and you would totally dig where we meet for church. Old, old Heritage Square, a near vacant amusement park (think Silver Dollar City but with no people and super dumpy and old) in one of their haunted (ok, I’m sure it’s not haunted but it totally could be) buildings that looks like a western town. It’s hilarious walking up to it every week. Or every three weeks like we’ve been averaging but NOT FOR LONG! No sir-re-bob! Not for long! We are going to make it two weeks in a row this week! Come HELL OR HIGH WATER!!

    Yes, it was a L O N G day today and yes, I need more adult interaction.

    But, I love you both a heck of a lot more than Cheesy Gordita Crunches! Not that I’ve ever eaten one…

  3. possibledreams Says:

    Wow, you guys are amazing…

    So proud to live on the same planet as you both…

    Love and Peace, M

  4. Maithri,

    Thanks for standing in belief with us, bro. It is always a blessing to read your words on this site and on yours; they always give us strength and hope.


  5. Lisa,

    Your church sounds stellar! We just heard of a church in L.A. that meets under a highway and my friend Adam posted a short entry on his blog about “inflatable churches“. Check it out.

    love you,

  6. Isaac,

    You are right, there is something to be done no matter where we live. We have hurting brothers and sisters right next door to us and reaching out in love has so many different facets. We are in Mexico, you are in the Ozarks, and within our different contexts we reach out in unique ways.

    I recently read this quote from Robert F. Kennedy speaking about our contribution to the world around us. “Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

    love you, cuz.


  7. Kiery Says:

    God bless Matt and Misty and all the others who are writing, speaking, even yelling to us, the church, to wake up. We will only work to kill ourselves if we hoard and consume all the food we can, or anything else for that matter. So many, epecially in the USA, have been conditioned to get all we can get; to attain the largest piece of real estate we can –whether we can afford it or not. But, to be realistic, it is not ours, it still belongs to the bank. If we don’t want to believe that, just let us miss a few mortgage payments. Even if our great castle is paid for, it is still not ours. Just go check the records on a piece of property and see how many owners it has had –over the centuries it could be quite a few. And yet we are so disillusioned that we call it ours, and we brag about it, take ownership of it for ourselves (for a very, very few years –a speck on the time line. I wonder how God feels about that. Scripture says that God owns all the cattle and all the hills they graze on. So we must let go of what we falsley believe is ours –everything God has allowed us to accumulate. God gave us what we have so we could share it, invest it in the lives of others, not to hoard it up for ourselves just to see it rust, get stolen, or evaporate in some other way before our eyes. It is God who gives us the ability to get wealth. It is God who gives us our health and our time. It all belongs to him. We must ask ourselves if we are allowing him ownership of what is his and using it in a way that agrees with his heart, his passion.

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