FRANCISCO MORAZAN, Honduras (BP)--An exposed bulb dangles from the ceiling by a black wire and throws its harsh light around the cramped cinder-block room. Tattooed bodies crowd the space or stare in past the heavy steel door. This cell's location is deep within the bowels of a Honduran prison. All of the young men present are gang members, and most are killers or rapists -- or both.
Missionary Amy Johnson visits with a tattooed-branded gangster in Honduras who faces daily threat from rival gangs who often kill on sight. He is also a target for frustrated police eager to exterminate street gangs and an increasing number of armed civilian vigilantes.
At the center of this sea of inked flesh sits Amy Johnson, a perfectly postured, fair-complected redhead. Her soft voice forces the prisoners to lean in to hear her. Her sincere smile melts their calloused hearts, and her deep-penetrating brown eyes reach beyond their hardened exteriors to their souls. They call her Mamita, translated, "Little Mom."
"She makes us feel like we are not forgotten," says Danny Boy, a prisoner and the leader of one gang. (Most gang members use nicknames.) "People treat us like animals, but not her. She listens to us, and we respect her a lot." Read More