July 31, 2018
In Tegucigalpa, Honduras’ historic central square, families stroll hand in hand past a weathered cathedral, honking taxi drivers, and vendors selling bags of sliced mango. At first glance, it looks like just another summer afternoon in the capital city.
But in front of the National Congress building, heads are bowed and arms outstretched as a crowd of over 200 people prays for the selection of Honduras’ next Attorney General.
AJS believes a brave, independent Attorney General is crucial to justice work. We also believe in the power of prayer. As Honduras faced an Attorney General election process, we partnered with one of Honduras’ largest Christian denominations to host weekly prayer meetings. These meetings were broadcast live to over 19,000 followers on social media and to listeners of three different radio stations. We prayed that Honduras’ next Attorney General would not only be capable and trust-worthy, but also willing to boldly defend human rights.
Onan, an AJS staff member who led these prayer sessions, reflects,
“As a young adult, it was gratifying to be part of this movement…to pray that our country be rooted in justice. People want to see the corrupt in jail, but they don’t understand that for this to happen, our country needs a good Attorney General.”
When the list of nominees for the position was released, we discovered that several candidates were wrapped in conflicts of interest that could affect their ability to be impartial. We knew that political elites and members of Congress were interested in nominating an Attorney General that would protect their interests, not investigate them.
AJS’s journalism team stepped forward and released a website that profiled and ranked the candidates by their aptitude for the job, reaching over 133,000 people. Congress responded by eliminating the candidates AJS had ranked the lowest.
Soon after, we heard worrying reports that Honduras’ major political parties were plotting to undermine corruption investigations by taking over the Attorney General’s office. AJS declared at a press conference that the Attorney General’s role was to defend society, not the powerful. That afternoon, Onan and over 70 Brave Christians gathered to pray with the committee charged with nominating candidates. Onan laid hands on the President of the Supreme Court, head of the committee, and earnestly prayed, “We want a deep change in our country… a person who responds to our longing for justice.”
After our prayerful intervention, the President of Honduras and the President of the Supreme Court spoke out against the political parties’ plan.
Every time we were confronted with fear, we met it head-on with prayerful action. Although justice work is not easy, we believe that when we trust and follow God’s lead, we can positively impact what others assume to be hopeless.
When legislators assembled to vote for the next Attorney General, we waited to see how God would answer our prayers. In an unexpected twist, Congress re-elected Oscar Chinchilla, the current Attorney General, to another five-year term.
As the news sunk in, we knew the election was not without concerns. The process used to re-elect the current Attorney General was legally questionable and his office has room to improve on human rights issues. Yet, Chinchilla has been willing to work with AJS, stating:
“[AJS] has taught us a lesson – you can point out things that are bad; but you can also work hand in hand to make changes.”
AJS will continue to hold the Attorney General accountable to be “respectable, competent, diligent, independent, and brave, a person committed to lead the fight to reverse the impunity that has for so long damaged Honduras.”
After months of steadfast prayer, Onan is at peace with the results. But he adds, “Our work is not over yet. We have to continue praying, continue accompanying the process [so that] our country develops a just foundation.”