Posts Tagged ‘Paraguay’

This weekend a number of us who had participated in mission trips to Ecuador over the years gathered for a reunion. The impetus for our gathering was the death of friend Victor Vaca, who passed only a couple of years after his wife and our friend, Violet. We gathered to remember them and what we we shared together. All of that reminded me of a story out of Victor’s life.

Victor was a native Ecuadorian married to a true Minnesotan. They served for decades together among the poorest of Ecuador’s people. But early on they were appointed by our Division of Overseas Ministry to Paraguay. This was in the 1970s in a particularly volatile time. A right wing military government was in power, much like in Chile, and the death squads were rampant. Victor and Violet had the opportunity to get out but they decided to stay – for the sake of those they served.

In the midst of that political environment anyone who worked for and with the poor – to advocate for their rights and better conditions, challenging the oppressive system that kept the powerful in power – were seen as seditionists. The last thing that fascists want is the poor to be empowered enough to speak and organize. And so those working with the poor automatically became targets of the military government.

One night there was a knock at the door. They knew it come anytime and it finally did. They hauled Victor away and while Violet was guarded they ransacked the house. She was informed that if she wanted to see her husband again she would keep her mouth shut. But Violet called the head of DOM at the time, Bill Nottingham, and before you know it, he traveled to Paraguay to attempt to secure Victor’s release. Mostly he wanted the government officials to know that people knew Victor was detained. Many were simply disappearing during that time so that step was crucial.

In detention and interrogation they attempted to intimidate Victor with many accusations and threats. But he held firm through the entire ordeal. Eventually his release was secured, but no one really knew until it finally happened.

The moment of truth for Victor and Violet was their decision to stay, not leave. They could have done so and no one would have blamed them, not at all. And with that decision unknown consequences came, though they knew the risks.

Perhaps you and I have not or will not face that kind of dramatic decision that requires that kind of courage. But each one will make fundamental decisions and decisive turns in the road. These decisions will require courage, grace, forgiveness, and trust. The gauntlet through Jerusalem was precarious, as Jesus knew. And such are the passages we make, day by day and year by year. Faith, hope and love go a long way. In the end our moment of truth calls for a decision, one for which we are rarely prepared until it arrives. God bless you as you stare it down during its next visit.