The Story of Nicholas

The Story of Nicholas

"In The early 80, there was a war. Our three Ixil triangle towns were the most affected areas of Guatemala. Before The war, I lived in a town just after Bethlehem with my father. We Were very poor. I Used to go with my dad to the farms to work, but I remember he was always barefoot because we had no money for shoes. "

Nicolás Toma Cruz – The Nicolas Fund-BELAy
Nicolás Toma Cruz

"I got married when I was 20 years old. My Girlfriend was eighteen and we got married just as the war began to escalate. We Were married without ceremony, away from the village in the mountains, hiding from the troops. Weddings are usually a happy event, but our wedding was not happy because we were terrified by the violence around us. "

"We Had eight months of pregnancy with our first child when we finally left our house and hid. Earlier in the day, the forces had begun to burn the houses in our village with the people still in them. "

"My father was tortured to death because he was an evangelist pastor. The Guerrillas liked the Catholics and hated the Protestants. The Guerrillas hated my dad because he was a preacher and he didn't seem to fear Them. They were forcing Us both to lie on the ground at gunpoint and laugh at us. They once took Dad's Bible and burned it in front of him. "

They Sent my dad out to his house and grabbed his pickaxe and his hoe. They pulled him out of town and took him to the mountains, and made him dig a hole. When He was done, my dad was shot and pushed into the hole while he was falling. In those days, the Guerrillas refused to bury the dead, so they only threw a few shovels of land on their body. It was a month before I was brave enough to go back to my dad's grave. The wild animals and the dogs had eaten the body, as they did with all the bodies that the Guerrillas left around the mountains. I picked up the bones and took them back to my village. "

"Anne, Nicholas ' wife, said:" When we were waiting for our first baby, I prayed that God would protect us. The night My baby was born, there were many shots. So Nicholas and I… We escaped into the woods and hid in the dark. The Guerrillas were burning houses and killing people, so we had to leave although I could barely walk. I Remember it was raining. We Were walking in the dark when my baby fell under me. I had No pain. Nicholas raised the baby and wrapped it in a piece of plastic to keep it warm. It Was all we had. "

So we fled the mountains and headed to Cotzal when the baby died. He died of cold. It was Never right. But we couldn't keep it warm because we only had the plastic. " Ana was crying as she told this story. Nicolás added: "After my dad was killed, the Guerrillas began to ask my friends where I was. I couldn't trust anyone Anymore, so I hid. But He was not afraid of the Guerrillas, as my father had not feared them, because he knew that God was alive and would save me, even if he died. In The Woods, late at night, my wife and I prayed, and began to preach in the villages as my father had done.

Once we were in the village of Oleguana and the Guerrillas approached us. The others warned me not to go to Cotzal because they were telling everyone they were looking for me and they wanted me dead. It Was raining hard. I Was Wearing a plastic bag that covered my face. The Road was curving, so I couldn't see who was coming at me, and I met the Guerrillas on the curve of the road. But they didn't recognize me. To this day, I am sure that it was the prayers that my wife and I said every day for God to save us. To protect us.

We had nothing In the woods. We Ate green corn where we could find it. Sometimes we spend several weeks without eating. I Don't know how we survived. Only God knows. " Nicholas was persecuted by both the leftist guerrillas and the soldiers of the Guatemalan Army who opposed them.

The soldiers, they killed whoever it was. If you were accused of being a guerrilla, they would kill you even if you were not a guerrilla. If They didn't like you for some reason, they would kill you. Sometimes they just killed For no reason.

"The soldiers were worse than the Guerrillas, so one night I decided to return to our village beyond Bethlehem. But the Guerrillas, when they saw me, shot me in the shoulder as I fled for my life. "

"I couldn't work for a year after that." "When the war was finally over, I got a job with the government to teach people how to grow. But I was illiterate. And yet… They still hired me. It Was God. God saved me. He is stronger than any war, or any soldier, or any Guerrilla.

After The War I went to school, studied in elementary school and graduated to the basic level. Then I went to the next level. When I was studying, my Government contract ended. There was No high school I could attend. And then… Agros hired me. The last day of my work with the government, Agros hired me. "

David Carlson, of Agros, recalls, "One Day, shortly after ascending to the post of community development specialist who worked directly with the members of a new community of Agros, Nicholas was surprised to meet face to face with two of the men That they had killed their father. He Had burned their faces in his mind since that horrible day.

When faced with a choice of vengeance or forgiveness, Nicholas said: "I Knew I only had one choice for all that Jesus had forgiven me for, even though everything within me cried out for righteousness… For revenge… By the horror that had traumatized us all. So I looked at these men, asking God to give me strength in doing so, extendiéndoles the same grace he had given me, telling them who I was and forgiving them for murdering my father, inviting to help me guide his community. "

David added: "Neither Nicholas nor the men returned to be the same after that; They made significant strides, emerged as leaders in their community, and the story of Nicholas ' selfless and gracious act encouraged others to do the same throughout the region, as did his smile always ready to all who had the good fortune of with Ocerlo. "

Nicholas will be much missed by all of us, by Agros staff, but more particularly by his thirty-year-old wife, Ana Sajic Pérez, and her six surviving children.