Fear Me

“God sent me to jail, to save me.” Chava’s smile accentuates the deep scar that encircles his face. “But I didn’t want to be saved. I wanted to be feared.”

Chava had been using drugs since childhood, admiring the way that drug dealers were feared in his neighborhood. At seventeen, only one day away from his eighteenth birthday, he was arrested for dealing drugs to elementary school students. “One more day,” he says, “and I would have gone to the adult prison. A bad place for teenagers.” But instead of being grateful, he hardened his heart even more.

While serving his one-year sentence in the Juvenile Detention Center in Colima, Chava adopted a combative, threatening posture so as to intimidate the other inmates. It worked; they left him alone. He volunteered in the kitchen to avoid group activities, and it was there that one of the cooks, Nena, tried to persuade him to attend the weekly counseling sessions with Carlos Ortega, pastor of an MB church in Colima. Chava found himself intrigued by this pastor, who regularly played soccer with the inmates in the compound. But he had a reputation to hold up, and did not want to appear weak.

“When I was released, I went back to the streets, back to the drugs,” he says. Then his father died, and he became angrier than ever. “I cursed God that day,” he recalls. “Then I got high, got on my motorcycle and went crazy.” Four hours later, Chava was in a head-on collision with a truck, and spent the next seventeen days in a deep coma.

The dangerous swelling of his injured brain tissue required radical surgery. Surgeons removed the entire front of his skull, drained the fluids and then sutured back his face, leaving him with a ragged, circular scar. When Chava finally woke up, he did not remember anything to do with the accident. But he vividly remembered having cursed God. “He could have let me die,” he reflects soberly, “but instead, he gave me another chance.”

Chava checked himself into a rehabilitation center, and asked Pastor Carlos to meet with him and teach him about Jesus. The discipleship continues to this day, and Chava has now been attending the Pan de Vida MB church in Colima for over one year, gainfully employed and drug-free.

“I don’t need others to fear me anymore,” he says. “Instead, I fear God.”

By Nikki White