By Mark Ellis & Michael Ashcraft, Special to ASSIST News Service
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (ANS - July 21, 2015) -- The Contras slipped in during the wee hours of the morning and slit the throats of sleeping Sandinistas, sometimes 30, sometimes 50, sometimes the whole battalion of 350 before they disappeared undetected into the forbidding jungle.
Not so with Alex Delgado’s battalion. His lieutenant had received training from the strictest military specialists in communist bloc East Germany, and Tito Castillo never let a guard fall asleep.
Alex didn’t join the Sandinistas, the former Marxist government of Nicaragua that the Contras sought to topple, because of ideology. As a matter of fact, Alex really had no idea about the meaning of communism and capitalism.
He was just an 18-year-old, the seventh child in his family, ignored among the many mouths to feed. With no one pushing him to study, with no future in sight, Alex got swept up in the euphoria at the beginnings of the Sandinista government with hopes of eradicating the corruption of the former regime.
But the decision to join what seemed like a winning cause turned into two years of sheer misery. He trudged 10 hours a day, in danger of ambush, in danger of trip wires, gathering energy from inadequate food (they once made soup with roots and tree limbs).
His commander voiced vivid dreams of finding the enemy and decimating them in combat. Inside, Alex prayed to a God he didn’t yet know to never find the enemy – and God granted his wish. The only deaths in his battalion were from an ambush on a supply pickup and a friend while fording a river.
Body bags from other battalions flooded homes; sometimes they were left on the doorstep to be found by parents after soldiers rang the doorbell and fled at midnight.
It was an unwinnable proxy war that killed tens of thousands of youth in the ’80s, almost none of whom really understood the values of the superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union who financed opposing sides.
“Many never got out of the army,” Alex said. “A friend whose time of service was coming to an end deserted. The enemy found him and killed him.”
Once out of the Sandinista army, Alex practiced baseball. He threw a treacherous curve ball that won the championship of Leon twice and competed against other departments. Two years passed.
About the writer: Mark Ellis is a senior correspondent for the ASSIST News Service and also the founder of www.Godreports.com, a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world to build interest and involvement in world missions.
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