Fear and loathing in Los Angeles (and Guatemala)


I conquered fear for 16 years. As a result, there’s a church and Christian school in Guatemala.

It was a contest of scary stories, but these were real — about assaults. The people one-upping each other were pastors in Guatemala. As the only gringo in the group, I begged them to stop since they worked worse in my mind. The Guatemalans gave accounts of the times they were held up at gunpoint or at knifepoint sometimes out of humor. I never got the joke.

Eventually the terror of the reigning insecurity in Guatemala got the best of me, and I high-tailed it to the U.S. Guatemala is nation dominated by drug-traffickers. Government officials are too busy stealing from the country. Police officers join the fray. You never know who to fear more, the crooks or the police officers.


By the time I succumbed to fear, God had raised up leaders to take over and keep the work going.

I held out in faith for 16 years, but when I got held up by pros, after exchanging money at the bank, I was afraid for my kids. They would rapt them and demand ransom.

Please don’t be glib. You can spout scripture (“perfect love casts out all fear” comes to mind) from here in the United States where you face virtually no threat. But I’ll listen to a person who has been through worse things than me.


The smiles are worth whatever fears I had. People have come to Christ.

Not all fear is bad. As David Bowie observed grimly: There are no atheists on the battlefield. Those who face death daily don’t have the luxury to flout their intellectual pride and declare themselves free-thinkers. Those who face fear hold to faith. I believe David Bowie, after promoting so much sin during his musical career, came to God at the end. Selling records and making money was cool, but it was useless to solve the death problem. Only God can do that.

Have you conquered all fears? Maybe you just haven’t had a big enough trial yet. You don’t fear God? Some go into eternity sticking to their pridefulness and insisting they don’t believe in God.


9 responses to “Fear and loathing in Los Angeles (and Guatemala)

  1. Powerful testimony. Thanks for sharing honestly from your heart while still strong in your faith. Praise His name.

  2. Perhaps th Lord put it in your heart to leave. If there were people already living there who could carry on your work, then maybe it was time to go. You are too hard on yourself, I think. Even the Bible says if they persecute you, flee to another city. As a father, you were protecting your children, which is also your duty. I’m sure God delighted in the work you started there by his power.

    I read of the first missionaries to the Solomon Islands, I think it was. Some were killed and all left for awhile then came back again when it was safer. There was no shame in that.

  3. Marvelous blog, as always. Honest, reflective…just GOOD. I’m sharing. Thanks.

  4. Sheila Scorziello

    Fear, or common sense? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. God does also give us fear of things – to help us use common sense and not walk near the edge. I think there is a time to face fears head-on. Others when it’s best to back off – and as you say, wait for a better time. You couldn’t have done much for the Lord down here if you’d been killed, could you? And we’re all so glad you weren’t! Great word!

    • I guess what still bugs me is: I COULD leave if threatened. but all my Christian brothers and sisters, if threatened, cannot leave.

      • Sheila Scorziello

        That’s true. Not an easy situation to be in. I guess all you can really rely on (as in all times, really) is “What does the Scripture say?” and God’s peace. There is no way to come up with a common sense answer. God’s calling doesn’t actually make sense to the human mind. Plus, common sense says “Leave so God can keep you alive and keep using you.” or “Stand with your brethren.” I wonder if those are the struggles Bonhoeffer went through, and so many others like him. We’ll pray that God does speak to you and give you deep peace, deep down.

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