A look into another culture and a renewed life in Christ. This is from an interview I had to write on for a Cultural Anthropology class. The paper was meant to focus on the religion and culture prior to knowing Christ, though I include a little segment at the end of the man Lalo has become since coming to know Christ.
Lalo is from the border between the United States and Mexico (El Paso and Ciudad Ju’arez). The tattoos covering his body tell a story of the life he has lived. His speech is direct and to the point, with which he commands the conversation. Being manly or macho as he describes, is everything to men in his culture. Every decision is weighed by how it will affect his image of being macho, family structure reflects this desire. The man is not to be questioned by the wife or any other woman and it is the father’s responsibility to be sure that his sons grow up to be manly and tough.
Religion is so intertwined with everyday life that it seems every story or topic which he shared about had a taste of ghosts and spirits. Though the primary religion is Catholicism, you can see it is very mixed with superstition. He explained that you were Catholic because being born Mexican makes you Catholic. Shrines to various saints line the neighborhood and depending on what you’re praying for, you visit the correlating shrine.
The spirit figure which he spoke most of was the Angel of Death or The Grimm Reaper, which he referred to him as. The business he was in was quite dangerous. He explained that everyone would be sure to appease the Grimm Reaper before they set out to do their work for the drug cartel. Their fear of the dangers of their work is suppressed by their confidence in the spirits to help them with their tasks.
Death is not something people shy away from talking about, though they grieve for those whom they have lost. People make sure others know their favorite foods, songs, and so on before they die. Relatives come from all over to drink tequila eat that special food or play that special song for those who have died. He even mentioned couples have special songs and if your mother and father pass, you and your wife would, “Be romantic to the song your parents shared.” The thought of doing things to please the dead is so odd to me, and further prod into the meanings behind it. He explains that ghosts are everywhere and that it is not un-common that a family of ghost live in your home with you.
Lalo tells a story of when he was very young his grandmother told him to get something from the garage, he timidly refused and explained that his grandpa was out there. The grandmother asked him, “Do you remember your grandfather? He loved you, didn’t he? Were you scared of your grandfather when he was alive?” Lalo understood and swallowed his fear to go near the garage and did as his grandmother said. I thought to myself, it is interesting that even children have a natural fear of these “ghosts” or demons that commune and stir fear and obedience into the heart.
Since Lalo has come to Christ, the Lord has used his sensitivity to the spirit realm to the benefit of the body of Christ. Be it through dreams and visions or through seeing the spiritual realm to know to pray and intercede, the Lord is using Lalo in great and mighty ways. It is hard to be around him without seeing the love of God shine through him through each conversation and interaction.