El Salvador 2015 (January 15-19)
Our daily morning devotion on the first day was themed, “How Did I Get Here?” While everyone knew the specific situation/circumstance that got them to El Salvador, most of us were trying to figure out why we were there and were asking, “What does God have planned for me on this trip?” Throughout our amazing journey we heard moving testimonies from our fellow travelers, pastors, congregation members, and children. Some testimonies told of hardships and struggles which ultimately brought them to Christ, while others told of a lifetime committed to Christ. While the individual details differed, the underlying theme was the same; God has a plan for each of us. The 24 of us who traveled together made lasting relationships with each other, the churches, the children, and interpreters. We understood it was not by chance, but rather God’s divine appointment, that we had the opportunity to take this journey together. So why were we there…for strength, for understanding, for relationships, for intervention, for healing, for leadership, and most of all, for LOVE. Each one of us has a better understanding of what it means to love one another the way Christ loves us and our lives will forever be changed.
Below is your work space and it stretches for 3 city blocks…. Your survival and your family’s survival depends on your finding any scrap that can be sold for pennies amidst mountains of rubble….. Let’s now talk about your vision for life and how your 5 children will get educated.
Members of a small congregation outside of Mexico City have spent 8 months saving money to buy these bricks to construct a building that will take care of 48 children that lack even the minimal necessities of life…. you and I find this gift from God and step in an accelerate the process that would otherwise take 15 years.
Her father tried to kill her because he did not want a child, her mother tried to sell her to raise money, daily she witnessed her mother being beaten, daily her father took drugs in front of her, she witnessed drug shootings, her father ended up in a wheel chair, many friends were taken by force by men at gun point, malnutrition, lack of money, limited education, no one to protect you…..destined to a life of prostitution and drugs….. this time she was snatched from the clutches of the devil by Christians from an orphanage/children center….. How can you not hug her and tell her you are sorry and that you feel her pain when she publicly shares her testimony and it rips your heart out?
I was sitting on a public bus in Guatemala and a young man got on and talked to 40 people about his love for Christ, how he had been rescued from a life of drug gangs and how he now has a wife, kids and a happy home. He preached from the Bible for 20 minutes to a captive non-believing group who quietly heard how the Word of God tells us how to love and raise children. At the end he prayed and 3 people accepted Christ as their Savior. Could you or I have the courage to do what he does 4 times a week for 3 hours to bring others to Christ and hear His Word? His example talked to me.
What would you say if your 13 yr. old was pregnant? What if she was the daughter of someone you knew or knew of? What if she was the daughter of someone you didn’t like or someone who had been unfair with you? Alexandra in her wisdom, counsels to refrain from criticizing or condemning. Be tough hearted with numbers and injustice; be soft hearted with people and life situations.
What if a grade school friend, the son of one of the most famous men in Latin America, confides in you after not seeing you in 20 years that his travel and study time has really been time in jail for a decade and that he feels like the black sheep of his family and a prisoner? What do you say to that without giving a “pat” Christian answer…. You and I know the answer to most of life’s issues is found in Christ and the Bible but the way we deliver that truth is important. Shame is a cruel companion.
Once a delapidated den in a difficult neighborhood of destruction, decay, drugs and decadence, in 8 months turned around by donors, pastors, congregations, denominations, ICM and the Holy Spirit working together to have a church where all can worship God.