Sunday, February 1, 2009

Vida Joven Guatemala

PLEASE, PLEASE take a few minutes to read and watch the following.   

This from my friend, Brady Greene, Area Director of Young Life Guatemala.  He, his family and YL staff are making a HUGE IMPACT in the country of Guatemala.  They are taking the gospel very seriously, loving on the least, last, and lost there.  Jesus, with skin on... walking through some of the worst slums in  Central America and “doing life” with the people that live there.

I’ve seen this ministry with my own eyes, and it’s nothing short of miraculous.

The tragic part of this story is that they are out of money.  The bottom line: if they don’t raise enough money in the next few months, they will be forced to leave Guatemala prematurely.  

PLEASE pray about giving to Vida Joven (Young Life) Guatemala.  Sacrificially giving.

After you read (and watch) the following, there will be contact info for your questions and gifts.  Please feel free to contact me as well.

Thank you in advance.





There is a man – I don’t know his name – who lives in a slum, which is across the 

alleyway from a worse slum, and surrounded by some of the most angry and 

contaminated human habitat that exists on this hemisphere.  The man repairs televisions, 

toasters, and radios, and the front wall of his shack is piled high with glass, wire, 

magnets, tubes and switches.  His hands are always greasy; his tools look like they need 

tools.  I pass by his place all the time, on my way from one neighborhood where we have 

club to another.  I try to sidestep all the dog diarrhea (and the dogs), and I say hello to the 

guy every time he’s out, but it’s mostly because I don’t want to offend him.  I know they 

sell drugs there, and the whole place is more than a little intimidating. 


I walked past with Fito once, and he stopped to talk.  The two of them moved away from 

the kind of Spanish I was taught in school, and they went far and deep into a street dialect 

that I can only guess at. I know it has a specific rhythm, tone, and a coarse efficiency, but 

I’m not privy to understanding much of it. 


After a time, they said goodbye, and Fito came back to a language I understood.  


“He was in the gang with you?” I ask, guessing on the basis of the similar tattoos. 

“No. I just met him not too long ago.” 

“He’s involved, though, right?”  The tattoos can’t mean nothing.  Besides, I was sure they 

sold there.   

“Used to be.  He’s trying to live clean.  The other guys living there sell.” 


The guy is older – early thirties maybe? – and I sensed a little half-apology about to come 

from Fito.  I know Vida Joven is about teenagers, Chepe, or something like that. One of 

the better and more important parts of my job is to stop that kind of thinking before it 

grows up. “I’m glad you know that guy, Fito. He needs you.” 


Fito spends countless hours with teenage boys in these neighborhoods. It’s not so much a 

job as it is an orientation, a way to think and work and live. It’s the kind of orientation 

that will make itself felt everywhere in a man’s life, not just when he’s around teenagers. 

It will show up with struggling repairmen, too. 


Are kids coming to Christ? I wrestle with that question. Fito wrestles with it. After all, 

here we are, the both of us – the six of us, counting the rest of the staff…the eleven of us 

if I count my family! Here we are, trying to fulfill the great commission, just like so 

many other congregations, missions, aid groups, and well-meaning, nice people. So: are 

they? Are kids coming to Christ? 


I don’t know the answer.  And I suspect that if I did, I wouldn’t trust it very much, 

whatever it turned out to be. I used to feel like I could tell, all those years as a volunteer 

in the US.  I thought I’d be able to tell down here, too; that the Spirit would work the 

same way here as there.  And he does, I trust. I’m just not so sure about my being able to 

know when or how he works. I can make out a rhythm, a tone, and I sense a rough grace. 

But I’m not privy to understanding much of it. 


I see in Fito what I’ve seen in myself: the need for vindication, for proof, for knowing – I 

see it being taken from him. We sit, he and I, across a greasy fast food booth every 

Wednesday, and I ask “how’s it going?” “How it’s going” changes very little; the 

intensity of our conversation depends entirely on how much of the truth either of us can 

stomach that day. We either face into it or we turn away from it. 


According to his pastors, his neighbors, people he knows in other ministries, most of his 

family, many of his friends, and his own two eyes, Fito is wasting his time and he’s a 

fool. Why even bother talking to a hard kid, or a washed-up ex-gang member/TV 



Here, then, is what I’m thinking of when I tell people that we’re unbelievably lucky to get 

to live here, in this brutal place. Here is where the secret, dazzling beauty lies:

He gets no 

answers, and he goes and loves anyway. 


I don’t know if kids are coming to Christ. I do know that Christ is coming to kids. 



Hector “Fito” Sandoval worked in the Guatemala City garbage dump since he was a 

small boy. After his father died an alcoholic, Fito helped create a criminal gang, which 

he then directed when all of his fellow founders were assassinated. He turned from 

violence, substance abuse, and organized crime following an intense experience of God, 

and has worked and lived cleanly and in the service of Christ for ten years. He is married 

to Nancy, and has two daughters from his previous marriage. In 2009, he begins his 

second year of pre-law at the University of San Carlos, and his third year on the Vida 

Joven staff.  

Brady Greene

Vida Joven Guatemala


For those interested in supporting Vida Joven Guatemala-

Checks can be made payable to


with a note to:


Young Life

PO Box 520

Colorado Springs CO 80901

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Guatemala is good place for the tourists of the world. Yes, there has been no doubt about the beauty of Guatemala because it is naturally glorious place for all groups of the people.