Henri knew what it meant. He knew what he was risking. He had seen it before and heard the stories. No one just walks away. If you leave, you die. But Henri knew that he had to try. He knew that God was calling him and he couldn’t say no.

Henri wore the signs of his chosen lifestyle. He had embraced the life of the gang for many years and his tattoo-covered body was a testament to the man he had been. His heart and soul softly proclaimed the man he had become.

No one just walks away. Time and time again Henri tried to erase the signs of who he had been. Repeated acid and laser treatments could not erase the eight years he wasted in the Honduran Salvatrucha gang. Henri knew that only God could erase the scars of those years.

Henri left the gang even though he knew the risk. He owed that much to God. Jesus had died to forgive his sins and he set out to seek a new life in accordance with his will.

Henri returned to the Church, got married, and even had a baby — a baby girl that he named Genesis in thanksgiving for the new life that God had granted him. More than that, Henri did what he could in his work with the Maryknoll missionaries to care for others . Henri worked tirelessly to build new homes for those who had lost everything in hurricane Mitch, all the while wearing long sleeves and a hat to hide the signs of the man he had been. One of those homes eventually became his own.

From that home he tried to steer young kids away from the life that had taken so much from him. All these things led Father Thomas Goekler of the Maryknolls to say of Henri “He was well-liked, a leader, and he had real patience with the younger kids. And he really was rehabilitated; he wasn’t fooling around.”

At the center of this transformation was God. God had made the difference in his life. God had given Henri another chance when he knew he didn’t deserve it. Because of his faith and gratitude, Henri was very excited about having his new daughter baptized into the church that had given him so much. The baptism was only a few weeks away.

On May 7th, Henri Aguilar finished a long day of work. He was anxious to get cleaned up so that he could go to mass. He was scheduled to be a reader at mass and he wanted to wash the day away. As Henri took a shower, three masked men burst into his home and shot him dead.

Henri knew what it meant. He knew what he was risking. No one just walks away. But Henri loved Jesus too much to stay.

Just a few weeks later, Henri’s pride and joy, his baby girl Genesis was baptized into the faith, a faith for which he had given his life. Henri is now washed clean of his sins and because of the love he had, so is his baby girl.

Pray for us, Henri Aguilar.