To Gehenna and Back

Chris —  July 31, 2009

In many ways, our final stop here in Managua, Nicaragua has been the hardest.  We faced some difficulties on our first day here, which I’ll tell you about when we have lunch on Saturday.  This is our only stop that is not a former British colony, so language has also been more of a barrier here than anywhere else.  It doesn’t help that we’re tired and the poor girls have had to put up with me for two months.  To top it all off, we’ve also been to Hell and back.

In Matthew 23, and throughout the New Testament, Jesus uses the term Gehenna to describe the destination of those who oppose him.  Gehenna was a valley outside Jerusalem.  It had once been home to pagan rituals of child sacrifice, but by Jesus’s day was a constantly smoldering pile of garbage.  We translate this to our english word Hell.

On the banks of Lake Managua is a giant smoldering plateau of trash called La Chureca.  On the outskirts of the dump is a barrio that is home to somewhere between 1,500 hundred individuals to 3,000 families.  Let me state this plainly: Thousands of human beings living in a garbage dump.

They go to Chureca because, strange as it may seem, it’s a place you can find work.  When garbage trucks come by families run up the hill to dive after recyclables.  Life is dirty and dangerous.  Stories are told of mothers renting out their children to get a place in line, and children being ran over by the trucks.  One of the hottest items is glue, which, when sniffed provides not only a momentary high, but more importantly, an appetite suppressant.

I find it quite interesting that Jesus and the New Testament writers chose a literal valley to describe the eternal destination of the damned.  Hell isn’t just a place where bad people go when they die.  It’s a way of life created and sustained by the sinful choices of man and an unjust system he has set up.

To learn how you can help people get out of Hell, check out

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