In El Salvador, where warring gangs like MS-13 and 18th street have wreaked havoc across the country, gang membership is usually for life. In this video, however, journalist Danny Gold examines the only acceptable way gangsters can escape the perpetual cycle of violence—joining the church and becoming a born-again Christian.
Inside an MS-13 prison, hundreds of members have decided to leave the gangs and reform through evangelical Christianity. But out on the streets, without the structured life of prison, the challenge is much greater. Pastor William Arias, a former MS-13 member turned pastor, now preaches in a neighborhood controlled by his former gang, trying to steer young teens away from a life of crime. Across San Salvador, a former 18th Street leader named Wilfredo Gomez oversees a church program to help reformed gang members getting out of prison avoid falling right back into the same mistakes.
Left unanswered is if these men will be able to maintain their new life of piety, or if they will return to the life of crime they've desperately tried to escape from.