You would think quitting a brutal gang would trigger an overwhelming sense of fear and trepidation. Especially when it was a gang that had forced you into membership by threatening your life.
But Yanci’s father is not scared. He knows his former gang members have seen how God has changed him. Plus, they are a superstitious group; as a result of their mythology-based fears, becoming a Christ follower is the only way a man can absolve his membership from the gang.
Still, he says the gang demands monthly payment so he can be assured of his safety in “their” neighborhood. They say they will kill him, but he refuses to cooperate. According to Yanci’s father, the gang gets enough of his money already: the taxi company he works for gives 20% of each driver’s income to the gang as payment for protection.
“This neighborhood is dangerous. People are shot here all the time. People have been murdered at my front door,” he says. As a gang member, Yanci’s father had been part of that violent culture. “When people heard I became a Christian, they said it wouldn’t last,” he said. “They said it would be six months. But hear I am,” he smiles.
Yanci’s father—the former Saul of the neighborhood—has now become the Paul. He has been rescued from the gang and his addiction to alcohol. Today he is a loving father, an evangelist and a protector of others. He volunteers at the local Compassion project. When I took my second trip to El Salvador, and visited Yanci’s family, I saw a large, gentle man who was joyful, proud of his girls, humbled by the patience and love of his wife, thankful for our prayers and boasting on the power of God to change his life. I couldn’t imagine him in his former life, hurting people.
When the villain of the neighborhood becomes a Christian, it’s a powerful story.
It’s even more inspiring when you consider how Yanci’s father’s transformation came about. Through the prayers and persistence of a neighbor woman in El Salvador, my sponsorship of Yanci, the influence of the Compassion project on her mother and sister and all of our collective prayers for her father, many were used by God for one family’s salvation. But the benefit did not stop there. Yanci’s family’s conversion has allowed others in the community—and the gang—to see Christ, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
About 500 Compassion-assisted children give their lives to Jesus every day. That’s inspiring! So when you think about the ripple effect of those conversions, and the number of family and community members who have been subsequently won for Christ as a result of sponsored children, I think we can agree, that’s God!
Read more to find out how a pen can be a powerful tool against poverty.