When I moved with my family to Tegucigalpa two years ago, we assured our friends that compared to the other places we had lived in Central America, the Honduran capital was a tranquil and relatively safe place, exempt by its location from earthquakes, hurricanes and the other natural disasters that plague much of Central America. And then came Hurricane Mitch.
In 1992, the county board in Galena, Illinois, voted to allow the Silver Eagle, a riverboat casino, to cast anchor in the nearby Mississippi River. Tom Grey, pastor of the United Methodist church in town, was stunned. No one had asked the citizens of Jo Daviess County if they wanted gambling. No one had even suggested that hearings or discussions be held before passing the proposal.
Though I grew up during the civil unrest and cultural change that marked the '60s and '70s, my middle-American, middle-class, mainstream-Christian upbringing still led me to assume that patriotism and Christian discipleship were highly compatible, mutually reinforcing commitments.
Just after midnight on Wednesday September 24, 1997, I watched as the state of Missouri put Samuel McDonald to death by lethal injection. I had never wanted to witness an execution, and I was devastated by what I saw. How did I come to be at the Potosi Correctional Institute on that night?
My faith took a turn for the better ten and a half years ago when something very sad happened. My brother Danny was struck by an automobile and died. During the three days in which I watched over him in the hospital, I was confirmed in my faith in Christ and God's mercy.