February 14, 2019
A special Valentine’s Day reflection from AJS-Honduras Executive Director, Carlos Hernández
Valentine’s is a season when everyone is talking about love. I’ve been blessed by a great deal of love in my own life– I love my wife, my children, my church family, and my friends. Love is also a central part of AJS’s work in Honduras – one of our favorite verses is 1 John 4:18 – “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.”
It’s easy to talk about love, but harder to talk about the fear that can lurk behind it like a shadow. Because I love my family, I fear for their safety. Because I love my country, I find its troubles and challenges deeply worrying.
I chose a life where fear is a constant reality. Through AJS’s work reforming weak government systems and fighting against violence in Honduras, we make powerful people very angry. When corrupt politicians we have exposed call me out by name on television, or when an unmarked vehicle trails my car for hours, I fear how my work could affect my family.
Fear is not just something I face in my own life; for millions of Hondurans, fear is a daily reality. Though homicides have dropped in Honduras, thousands of people still suffer losses each year due to violence. People fear being unable to provide for their families or being unable to access the healthcare they need. These real fears have driven many of my fellow Hondurans – who love their country – to seek a life elsewhere; I can imagine, in a different life, making a choice like that myself.
Despite the frightening situations I face, I have learned that fear does not need to get the final word. I can adopt the call of 1 John 4:18 and let love drive those fears away – to love in spite of fear, to love beyond it.
I remember a little more than two years ago when I awoke to find a threatening note underneath the door to my home. The note depicted a car similar to mine, riddled with bullets. I had recently joined a government-appointed commission charged with reforming the country’s police, in part by identifying which officers to remove from a deeply-corrupt police force. We were removing corrupt people from positions of power, and this note was evidence that some people hoped to use fear to get me to abandon my work.
Holding the note, I thought of my family and what this meant for them. Any parent will understand how terrifying it felt to have the safety of your home invaded. But this fear was slowly overwhelmed by a quieter and steadier emotion – love. I love my children so much that I want them to grow up in a country where peace and justice reign.
I love my family enough to know that the best example I can be for them is someone who does what is right despite the risks.
When we are fearful, we dwell on everything we could lose. When we are brave, we dwell on everything we can gain. In difficult moments, I choose to focus on everything love has done here in Honduras.
I think of families who find justice after one of their family members was murdered. I think of community members standing up to demand better education and health services for their children. I think of the children in my community joining clubs that teach them that there is an alternative to the darkness of gang violence. Focusing on these things helps me to be a brave Christian and – it helps me to love fearlessly. On this day of love, let’s continue to love Honduras and fight for justice together.
Que Dios le bendiga,
AJS-Honduras Executive Director
A final thought: As you think about love this February, I encourage you to confront those fears that might be preventing you from living and loving in the way that God is calling you. You may not fear a threat against your life, but maybe you fear ridicule, ostracism, and gossip.
In your family, your church, and your community, consider how you can love each other with a perfect love, a love that drives out fear.