How incredible that the Dessert Auction raised $14,612! Half of the funds raised are going towards supporting Nichola Henry, missionary with Operation Mobilization, and the other half towards building homes in El Salvador! That’s enough to build 2 more homes in El Salvador! Thank you so much for supporting the El Salvador mission trips! And what a fun night! Who doesn’t love to see their Pastors get pie in the face?
|Building Homes in El Salvador|
Eldon and I have seen God at work in El Salvador! Here’s the report that we gave at the Dessert Auction:
El Salvador is a beautiful country of mountainous landscape but inflicted with problems of poverty and gang violence. If you read news of El Salvador, you will read a lot of bad news. But we are here to bring you some good news and to tell you about open doors.
Bethany Community Church sent two mission teams working through the organization called Shelter Canada – a team of 24 people in November and 25 people in March. Twelve homes were built each week which means there are 24 families made up of 97 family members whose lives have been changed!
|November 2016 Team|
We get to work alongside the families and other local volunteers in building these homes. But more importantly we have the opportunity to build relationships, and bring hope in difficult places. We asked “what are the most difficult challenges that your community faces?” The answer – lack of job opportunities and violence.
Every member of our team gets to interview at least one of the families that we build for and here is one of the stories that we heard:
|March 2017 Team|
Del and Patricia have a one-year-old daughter named, Theresa. They are a quiet and loving family who also take care of and live with Del’s 82-year-old mother who struggles with her health and memory.
Del considers himself a jack-of-all-trades as many of the Salvadorian men do – taking on any odd jobs to earn income. At this time, Del was employed selling lottery tickets, which means he leaves the house at 6 am to meet his boss where they travel to different communities selling tickets. Unfortunately this does not give a steady income, often earning less than $5 a day.
|Del, Patricia and Theresa|
in front of their new home!
They had moved from place to place trying to find a reasonable home to rent. They lived under enormous pressure trying to come up with the $50 rent per month that they had to pay. They were so thankful and relieved to have this new home where their anxiety was alleviated and it now allows them to use the rent money for living and sustaining themselves. They asked us, “Why would you come to build houses in El Salvador?” We were able to share how God’s love for us compels us to help others and show His love; and they praised God with us as they were certain this was God’s gift to them.
These are hard-working people who want to provide for themselves and their families, who long for the opportunity to get ahead, who dream that their children will have a better future. They are warm and loving people who embraced us and told us their stories. And somehow by working, praying and laughing together we were all lifted up.
Change is made family by family and before you know it, whole communities have been changed. In November the leaders of Rio Frio planned a community party to celebrate the 350 homes that were built by Shelter Canada over the past 4 years. (our Bethany teams have worked in Rio Frio on numerous trips) We had the incredible privilege to host this party and participate by making hundreds of balloon animals and painting hundreds of faces! Over 2,000 people were in attendance!
|Rio Frio Celebration Day|
Pastor Mendez of Rio Frio (we know him as Pastor Pastor) told us that he cried out to God to see his community have homes and he has seen that come true. Communities that are becoming safer as they stand together against the gang violence. Communities that are hearing the gospel as teams come in to share the good news as we build together.
“Open doors” – that’s what it’s all about. There are so many stories like the one just shared and these are made possible because of what God is doing through Shelter. Ten years ago Shelter built 30 homes. In this past year 376 homes were built through Shelter! A total of over 2,300 homes have been built since Shelter started. That’s why communities are celebrating like we did in Rio Frio. That’s a lot of families who now have a roof that doesn’t leak and they can actually lock their door!
But the homes aren’t even the best part. Just think of all the people those 2,300 homes represent. Thousands of people have experienced God’s love and have heard the gospel loud and clear. How amazing is that! As we go and show God’s love by building homes, this opens doors for the local church.
Pastor Amilcar, who heads up the main church we work with in El Salvador, puts it this way: “God uses some people to open doors and He uses other people to walk through them.” Because we come and build homes, the church in El Salvador now has open doors that they can walk through. They are now welcome in communities where they could never go before because of the gangs and the fear of violence. But now they are welcome. And they are ready! God has been raising up leaders in El Salvador and workers to support this huge evangelical outreach. People are now in place to facilitate, to train and to go and make disciples. They are ready to walk through the open doors.
|El Salvador Leadership Team for Shelter Canada|
And we are ready to go and open even more doors! We’ve barely scratched the surface in El Salvador. Shelter has built 2,300 homes in 110 communities, but there are 12,000 communities and 400,000 families still in desperate need in El Salvador. People ask us “Are you done yet?” But we have just begun!
Our biggest challenge is raising funds for the houses and the Dessert Auction is a huge help in that! Thank you to so many who have supported the ministry in El Salvador! None of this happens without people responding to what God places on their heart.