Words! Words are unique, powerful. Some words bring one to immediate attention. Words alarm, amuse, slap in the face. Words may bring reflection, introspection. A spring break 1999 trip to Honduras accentuated a word. The words grates on the ear when one hears it. I have read the word in newspapers, even heard it on TV, but its full force did not strike me until I heard it repeatedly in everyday speech. Damnificado!
In Spanish, the word refers to victims of hurricane Mitch. People suffering the tragic loss of most, if not all, of their material possessions. People forever touched by the loss of family and friends. People whose homes have been washed away, those whose adobe huts are continuing to fall from absorbing too much ground moisture. Bobby Broyles, a missionary in Honduras, equates damnificado to homeless. In 1999, Honduras is filled with people who have experienced tragic losses that may require years for recovery.
After six months, one sees on every hand in Honduras evidence of the tragedy of Hurricane Mitch--destroyed homes, half bridges, fields where rocks have replaced topsoil, altered terrain, new river beds, mountainsides made barren by the washing waters. Despite the severity of the physical loss, life hurries on in hopes of the future. New villages are being built for hurricane victims who lost their homes. Homes are abandoned, replaced. People are in transit, new places, new friends, new buildings. Hope springs eternal.
As I spent a week in Honduras, one thought struck me repeatedly. The hurricane victims are not the real damnificados. Their homelessness can and will be corrected as volunteers build hundreds of new homes. The real damnificados are those persons in every place who hurry about life outside of Jesus Christ. No greater loss can be suffered than to live without Christ. No greater tragedy can occur, no hopelessness looms larger. In Honduras, on every hand, damnificados. In the United States, on every hand, damnificados. Around the world, in every place, damnificados. Not victims of a severe storm, but of Satan.
The victims of Hurricane Mitch are homeless in the physical sense, but people outside of Christ are eternally homeless. Damnificado! The good news of the gospel is, that in Christ, no one is damnificado! In Christ Jesus is help, healing, home, and hope. Will you go forth with that message of hope?
"Go and make disciples, baptizing them... and teaching them...and I will always be with you."