El Salvador

El Salvador

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Difference Compassion Makes

It was a neighbourhood with the reputation for being dangerous. As a matter of fact it was known as the most dangerous neighbourhood in the San Salvador area, the capital of El Salvador. There were 3 to 4 murders every month here related to gang activity. But then a group of people started a church, and they started reaching out to children in the community. Soon a Compassion Centre was established and children were sponsored.  The children could come for a meal, Bible teaching, medical care and just a safe place to play. Children and siblings of gang members came to the centre too. And soon the community started to change. It came to the point where the media came to the neighbourhood to find out what was going on. The crime rate dropped so drastically that it drew attention.  The answer the community gave for this amazing change is, “It’s the church!”

This is the Compassion Centre we were privileged to visit today.  With 373 sponsored children in this centre they are doing an amazing job of teaching these children, providing for them, and loving them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They have started a program for the graduated students with a business of sewing and selling backpacks. They have a
music program for children to learn instruments and become part of the worship teams at church. They are currently in process of initiating a program for special needs children which is a huge need in El Salvador.  What a blessing to see what God is doing at this Centre!

But the best part of this day for me, was meeting the two children that we sponsor through Compassion.  There’s nothing like seeing the smiles on their faces, playing with them and giving them big hugs.  We talked with their parents to find out the progress of our kids and how they are being cared for.  It’s always a highlight of going to El Salvador! These families have become family to us. We love them so much and feel blessed to be a part of their lives.  If you’ve never considered sponsoring a child, consider it today.  Compassion Canada is a great organization where not only children’s lives are changed but the impact reaches the family and beyond to the community as well!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

His resourses

We completed the houses today. 10 families now have homes. Locked doors, roofs that don't leak and cement floors instead of dirt. A blessing that the homeowners are so thankful for.

Yesterday Dennis and I interviewed a family that the team was building a home for. With tears in their eyes they shared how grateful they were to receive a home. She was raising some chickens so they could have chicken sandwiches for Christmas.  She wanted to give Dennis and I her largest chicken. Out of her poverty she wanted to give. Her family didn’t have the basic nessesities yet she was willing to give from nothing. Even if that meant she would have nothing. We in Canada have an overflowing abundance of money and posessions yet we still hoard what God has entrusted us with. Why do we do that? Why are the scales so unbalanced between those that have too much and those that have nothing?  We have more than enough and yet the majority of the world don't have enough for today!? As Christians we will have to answer to how we have used God's resourses. This life is a dress rehearsal for eternity. How did we use his money? Did we share it with those less fortunate or did we keep building bigger barrns? Did we use it for kingdom purposes or for our own purposes? We will be rewarded in eternity with how we used our resourses. We all have to stand before the judgement seat of Christ. Now is the time to use the resources he has entrusted us with for His glory and kingdom purposes. That way we can hear Jesus say "well done my good and faithful servant".

Monday, November 9, 2015

God Found a Way

How can you really describe a day like today in El Salvador.  So many emotions come into play throughout the day.  The people here are so warm, loving and welcoming, so generous with the little they have.  They have big smiles and even bigger hearts.  They worship with passion at the church service singing at the top of their lungs and with all of their hearts.  But then you see the conditions that they live in and the hardship that they face every day just to exist, just to get food on the table.  Houses made of sticks and plastic and scraps of steel pieced together to try and put a roof over their heads.

You can imagine the joy for a family with two girls when they heard the news that they would receive a new home.  They lived in a home with plastic walls and pieces of steel for a roof. No longer would the Mom have to pile all their blankets and sheets and even clothes on their girls in the middle of the night in a storm to try and keep them dry.  With the Dad’s work being three hours away, he was away at work 5 and sometimes 6 days a week, leaving the Mom and the girls at home. No longer would the Mom have to worry about leaving her girls home alone while she went to try and sell goods at the market, as they would have a home where the girls could stay home and lock the doors for safety.

But then the bad news came that they couldn’t use their land to build a house.  They had planned to tear down their house and build the new home directly where their house sat.  However, they were within 8 metres of a water system owned by a company that decided to enforce a new rule that didn’t allow building within that limit of the water system.  It didn’t matter that hundreds of homes already existed within that limit, brick homes and other homes that Shelter had build for people in need.  Their home was right within the limit and on the other side of their house was the steep slope dropping off to a valley that didn’t allow them to move their home any further away from the waterway. Now this family faced hopelessness again.

This family was not ready to give up though.  They came up with a plan of building a retaining wall and filling in an area large enough to have a plateau behind their existing house where they could build.  With over 1,000 tires filled with mud and rocks, they built up a wall over 4 metres high, filled in the area with rocks and dirt and managed to have enough new land to build their house.  With the Dad being away all week for work, the Mom did the majority of the work, getting old tires wherever she could for free or paying up to $0.60 per tire to get the materials and get the job done.

We were all shocked to hear this story and the determination to be able to have a home! When someone said to them “You needed this house and you found a way” and they response was “God found a way!”

Four houses were built today, four families have a roof over their heads to keep them dry, and doors that lock to keep them safe. What an incredible day!

God is the restorer

How can I put into words what is happening here in El Salvador? It is really difficult! We see poverty and brokeness everywhere. Single mom's who are raising children alone, people suffering with poor health because there is not enough money for medication, houses made from mud and sticks or plastic wrapped around sticks for shelter. Farmers working for $2 a day and a bag of beans cost $5. There is so much suffering.

Yet we see God doing a great work. People in the community working together with the teams to erect the homes. Children laughing with some of our teenagers as they play with water ballons, a team member helping a mom and daughter wash clothes the old fashioned way by scrubbing them on the rock. Team members sharing the Gospel and praying for familes during the interview. I see God at work. I see God restoring Salvadoran lives and Canadian lives through the work that is happening here. I can't put it into words except to say....it is powerful! It is God! What a blessing to witness it and be a part of it.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

It is because of Jesus

One of the blessing we have as team members is to sit with the families that we are building the homes for and listen to their journey. Each family has a story. Each story has a deep impact on the teams as we listen to them share the trials and struggles of living life in rural El Salvador and in extreme poverty.   

I had an opportunity last year to sit with a man, his wife and their teenage son. He asked us "Why do you do this"? "Why do you come and build homes for us"? The answer to me is easy! We come because of the One who lives in us. We come because of Jesus. Jesus loves us so much and because of His love we also go and share the good news with others. How do we do that? By building homes! Building homes is an opportunity for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to offer the good news of His love and salvation for mankind.

As we prepare to go and build 10 homes for families living in extreme poverty I pray that God will bless the work. Not so we look good...but so we can share God's love and grace to others. All for his purpose and for His glory!