In my fiction stories, I often put average people in situations of peril where the vast majority of people around them would crumble under similar circumstances. In reality, most people would actually succumb under such compelling life and death conditions. But it doesn’t take a calamity, a natural disaster or an attack by terrorists to propel a seemingly innocuous person into the realm of being a hero.
Our society makes heroes out to be super human, often possessing a power, or an extraordinary skill, or at the very least a mask and a cape. Although this is a glorified portrait of the stereotype, those with impressionable minds see the caped wonders as the only saviors from earth’s peril and having moral majority on being a savior.
In my first book in the Worst Case Scenario series I attribute my talents as gifts of God, and leave the reader with this final acknowledgment: Heroes will rise, Heroes will fall, Jesus is my hero, and He has risen.
You may retort my statement by reminding me that it is very easy for me to pick Jesus as my hero, and you would be right. You see, Jesus is something to strive for, a deeper understanding, He is a path to the rewards of a better life.
But, finding heroes in our daily lives is easier than you might think. If we all could slow down the pace of our lives and push away the entrapment of mindless tasks that steal our time, then you might be surprised just how many heroes there are around you that are working their own small miracles.
So sit and think for a few seconds, close your eyes if you need to, and think, who do I know that are heroes around me? Go ahead, take a minute, I’ll wait. Seriously, take thirty seconds, close your eyes, and think about the heroes in your existence.
Hopefully you thought of a few people in your life, or those that may pass through your life. It could have been a teacher, a parent, your sibling or simply someone that made a difference in the existence of others. If I may, let me tell you about a few heroes that have been revealed to me over the last few days.
I’m currently spending a week on mission in Honduras with nine other Americans. We have all been here before at one time or anther. We all speak some level of Spanish and we all love the opportunity to serve at the orphanage located next to a neighborhood controlled by gangs.
It is in these areas, the narrow lines of distinction between what is right and what is wrong, that I find everyday heroes. One such group is a special unit of the Honduran Federal police. Based on programs developed in the USA and implemented by the US State Department, these men and women are trained to serve in the schools and in the communities to help provide a choice between the short and violent life in a gang, and the life of continued education and opportunity.
You may scoff at such an idea because it has been in practice in the States for years, but in a third world country, where stability is ever changing and 63% of Hondurans live in poverty, and the police are stereotypically corrupt, this kind of change is along the lines of culture shock. What makes it even more appreciated is that half of the police in this service are women.
When we asked the women officers about the challenges of being a woman in a society that does not value women as much as men, they surprised us with the revelation that women officers are actually more accepted in the families and communities than their male counterparts. Imagine that, in a society that does not value woman, they are the ones that are able to break through and have the most success.
This small group serves in the worst sections of the city, trying to convince young men and women that there is hope for their future and that the lure of crime and violence is a trapdoor to a life cut short.
Are these people heroes? Absolutely.
This week, we had the opportunity to visit a project founded by a man struck by the horrors of children living on the street. These children range from five to adulthood, they are alone, where the only thing to look forward to is getting high by sniffing shoe glue out of a plastic soda bottle. These are societies forgotten. They are the torn fibers on societies fabric of life, and no one would miss them if they simply disappeared.
According to the Tegucigalpa based project, almost 90% of kids that live on the street use the shoe glue on a daily basis. It is how they cope, how they pass the time, how they stop the hunger pains. Ironically, these are the children that even the gangs don’t want to recruit into their organizations because the children’s loyalties would not be to the gang, it would be to the glue.
The Micah Project’s mission it to help these boys by inserting themselves at the street level. They provide organized areas for the boys to gather, to play soccer and where they can get to know and trust each other. It is through this level of trust that new fabric is added to their existence and the ropes of a lifeline are spun. Eventually, through counseling and friendship, the boys realize that there is a life better than a dollar’s worth of yellow glue at the bottom of a plastic bottle, and they choose to enter the Project’s program.
Is there always success? No, but for the most part, yes. Are these people, the ones that dedicate their lives to pulling the lowest of us out of the mire and clay, heroes? Absolutely.
Later in the week we had the privilege to listen to a 20 year old man name Marvin, who described his attempt to enter the United States illegally. When he was 17 he set off from Honduras and was in Mexico within a few days. While in Mexico, humanity as we know it, broke down. Marvin described tales of torture, dismemberment, kidnapping, illegal organ harvesting, extortion, murder, rape, and a life constantly on the run from the ones that perpetrated most of the violence, the ‘coyotes’.
But, in Marvin’s struggles for survival, there was one man who rose above the temptations of easy prey, and offered a helping hand. The man owned a restaurant south of Mexico City, and he took Marvin in, gave him a job and helped him financially stabilize before he was strong enough to continue.
Was this man a hero for undertaking such an act of kindness? Absolutely.
In past blogs, and in my book Underlying Grace, I have written about El Hogar. This wonderful place, grounded by the grace of God, is an oasis in a sea of chaotic flux and poverty. El Hogar take in abandoned and hopelessly poor children in Honduras, and provides a loving home and education. El Hogar becomes the parent and the teacher to those that would never have one without the program. But it is more than a parent and a teacher, the children that grow up here are now part of a larger family, with brothers, sisters and teachers that love and nourish their physical, mental and spiritual needs.
The program runs on a staff that takes a lower level of pay and long hard hours. They do what they do for the love of the children, and they feel that God opens their hearts for a lifetime of work.
Are the men and women that give their entire lives so that these children can have the opportunity at a meaningful life, heroes? Absolutely.
During this week, we have had a lot of discussions about who is our favorite superhero. More often than not you will hear, Batman, Superman, Iron Man, and the list goes on and on. But I challenge you to look beyond the movie screen fiction and see the real heroes in your life. On my mission team I see nine other beautiful people, and they are all heroes to the children of this place.
Matthew West, a singer song writer, has a song called, ‘Do Something.’ In his piercing lyrics Matthew wakes up one day and sees people stricken with poverty and the world falling apart. Out of anger, he asks God why He doesn’t do something about the situation in the world. God answers him by saying that He did do something…He says, “I created you.”
So, I will ask you, is it time for you to do something? Is it time for you put on a cape and mask and become a hero to someone? If that is what it takes, then absolutely!
To learn more about the Micah Project: www.micahprojecthonduras.org
To learn more about El Hogar: www.elhogar.org
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