A half dozen murders every day make Ciudad Juarez one of the most violent cities in the world.
Drug trafficking drives the violence in this Mexican city, which is right across the border from El Paso, Texas.
The residents of Juarez have organized marches and protests to fight back, with little success.
But recently "angels" have been showing up to bring peace to these dangerous streets.
Half a dozen Mexican youth waited patiently as silver makeup and white robes turned them into "messenger angels." The youth are members of a tiny evangelical church in one of Ciudad Juarez's poorer neighborhoods.
Their presence has drawn the attention of international media. But at the moment, these angels are thinking of the job that lies ahead.
Soon they will be out on the dangerous streets of Juarez with placards calling for repentance and peace.
"[It's] something very nice and also risky, but the word of God says we need to be strong and courageous, and I believe we need to be courageous for Ciudad Juarez," an "angel" named Cuevas said.
Once the young people are ready, they head out to one of the city's busy intersections and take their positions, standing on chairs to look taller. They put on their wings and hold signs.
"[There's a chance] that there might be an accident or something, or that we could fall off the chairs," youth member Sujey Vacio said.
The sign she held read, "Corrupt Police, Seek God."
"These wings are heavy, but it's for God," Sujey said.
The angels freeze like statues, silent sentinels hoping to make an impression on the hundreds of people crossing this intersection.
"This work is nice but also a little tiring," said Daniel Rubalcaba, another youth member. "I'm happy because God, who's up in the heavens, is watching the work we're doing. And that's what he commands: to take the gospel to every nation."
The group also rushes to crime scenes, like one neighborhood where someone was recently been shot.
After holding a silent vigil, the angels offer to pray with neighbors for an end to the killing and for salvation from sin.
They also pray for more converts like Daniel Diaz, who used to be part of the city's problem.
"I was out in the world, a delinquent," Diaz said. "And now, I want to tell you that in that life you won't find anything good. But you'll sink down more and more."
Back in front of their church, Cuevas summed up their effort and why it must be done.
"I'm participating because I think we need hope here in Ciudad Juarez, messages that encourage people that the violence that we're living with can be solved," he said. "And I believe that hope we can only find in God, and no one else."
--Published Jan. 20, 2012