A few modern banks and some government buildings aside, the finest structures in El Salvador are churches and gas stations. A silly observation perhaps. I’m not sure the connection. For sure, the churches stand out as inviting places to gather. The contrast between the powers of darkness and the Light of Christ is also highly evident and continuing to grow!
Darkness is embodied in the hopelessness of poverty that promotes crime and the behaviors of the gangs. So few employment opportunities, premature deaths of loved ones, missing family members, hunger…. push young men (and even women) toward the gangs as a place to belong and to feel empowered. For many it’s like they are drafted into it, having no choice in the matter. It’s certainly not a life to be desired.
But the darkness sees the Light of Christ in those who choose another path. Still in poverty, but being helped so much by the programs of the local churches reaching out to their children, many families have found hope. You don’t hear them speak of their lack, but rather the Goodness of the Lord in meeting their simple needs. Their “God-colors” (His light shining through the broken places of their lives to reflect like light through a prism) are seen so radiantly that gang members choose to have their children in the church programs. Compassion comes along side those churches with your sponsorship dollars, and their already beautiful ministries blossom and flourish. The children are fed nutritious meals, health care is provided along with tutoring, mentoring, vocational training, and lots and lots of Jesus!
Like most parents, the gang members choose to check out what their children are doing and where they are spending their time. At the projects they encounter a loving staff fully committed to serving the Jesus they passionately love by serving the families of their community. Guess what? Many lives living in darkness give their lives over to the Light of the World. In fact, the Light of Jesus Christ is the only thing the gangs respect. Giving your life to Christ is the only reason allowed for leaving the gang. And the gang members are watching to see the transformed life. No talking the talk, but not walking the walk permitted here. It would mean death to the newly freed gang member and perhaps their families as well.
Personally, I believe that this is happening because of the prayers and praises of God’s people in El Salvador….. more about that in another post. Be watching, too, to meet a mom who left the gang after 15 years, because of her children being enrolled in a Compassion project. It’s a beautiful story of redemption.
Make a difference in the life of a child and his/her family today: