Tag Archives: Cold War

‘I married the guerilla’

I married the guerilla

With an old student at the Door Christian School in Guatemala City.

When the funeral hearse pulled up at 5:00 a.m., Gladys Barrios knew what it meant. She was a Christian teacher in Guatemala, but her husband fought for the guerrillas. He espoused atheistic communism.

“I lived constantly with the possibility that someone would come and tell me, ‘I’m sorry, but they just killed your husband,’” she said. “When I saw the hearse, I thought, ‘Well, that’s it. He’s dead.’”

Guatemala’s civil war lasted from 1960 to 1996. Just like America’s Civil War, it divided families. It was a bloody conflict of betrayal and treachery as the CIA and the former Soviet Union resorted to dirty tricks and massacres in their attempt to wrest control.

While the communists fought to win the hearts of the people, evangelical Christians made huge gains as people, fearful of death on all sides, considered their eternal state. Today, the country is one-third evangelical, according to some estimates.

For Gladys, the clash of ideologies took place in her household – but with a peculiar pre-marital agreement. “I knew he was in the guerrilla before we married,” she said. “So we agreed that I wouldn’t interfere in his activities, and he would let me go to church and raise the children Christian.

It turned out that the night the hearse arrived did NOT coincide with her husband’s death. Her husband, Luis Ernesto Donado, had been drinking with other high-ranking revolutionaries, and they had crashed due to intoxication. A friend died, and they asked Gladys to visit the morgue, identify the cadaver, and advise the wife who had just become a widow. Read the rest of her incredible story.

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Berlin wall faith

When Jessica was a girl, she prayed earnestly that God would tear down the Berlin Wall, a token of the Iron Curtainand the Cold War. As he listened to her, her dad, my pastor, a former congressional candidate,

Not Jessica

wondered if he should explain to her the cold, hard facts of life. Should he re-direct her prayers to something more realistic?

Hahahahaha! Kids today don’t even know what the Berlin Wall was. To describe to them the “threat” of communism makes them laugh. They have new issues (terrorism, overpopulation).

In 1990 Soviet bloc liberalization allowed citizens of both sides to demolish the wall amidst reunification euphoria. Jessica never doubted that it was her prayers that did the trick. Her dad just was amazed.

So… you either get Jessica to pray for your needs… or you get childlike faith yourself (Matt. 18:3).

Hasta la victoria, siempre

For decades, Che Guevara was the most maligned figure by the CIA. An Argentine instrumental in Castro’s Cuban revolution, Guevara stood for communism, the toppling of governments by “popular uprising,” even the overthrow of the USA. To be honest, his picture struck me with fear back in the day when I was a teenager. But the Cold War has gone, well, cold. A re-evaluation might be permitted without war-whipped paranoia.

“El Che” was an inspirational personage. Free from the weight of wanting materialistic comforts, he fought unreservedly. His slogan, in Spanish in the title, is translated: “Towards (unto) victory, always.” Not even death would deter him from trying for triumph.

You may not like his atheistic humanism, but you ought not to dismiss his life — such sacrifice, such fearlessness, such passion. Where’s the Christian nowadays who matches his commitment?

For Guevara, self-denial meant dying, executed by Rangers in Bolivia, where he had tried to spark revolution. For us, “sacrifice” means getting out of bed to go to prayer. It means turning off the TV to read the Bible. Are we willing to go to the most God-forsaken lands to bring a revolution of Christian truth?

Nowadays, the insignia of Guevara has become watered down, a harmless symbol for adolescent rebelliousness. He’s become as mild as Pancho Villa or Bob Marley. My hope would be that our Christianity would retain its edge and not go mild.