As team leaders, already with a love and a desire to serve the people of El Salvador, we were challenged to look beyond our own perspectives and see what God might be doing with us (our teams) next.
First, Pastor Jorge and Maritza shared their appreciation for the what the teams from Canada have brought to this area, and they also shared their personal struggle with: stamina to meet the demands of ministry (of which our teams are only a part), a desire to see their children walking with the Lord, and the endless needs around them. They asked us to continue to pray for their church, and the people who are calling it home and for their desire to plant churches and empower leaders in strategic areas who will care for others in those areas.
Next, we heard from Pastor Ricard and Adonai, both of whom gave us a clear picture of the immense poverty that exists in El Salvador. They also shared their strategy to meet those needs with the love of Jesus Christ. A "non-traditional" approach, is what they call it. Instead of planting a church first, they send a mission-minded family into a new area, who will be their contact people. Through this family and the contacts they make, they will pray about and seek to meet the real tangible needs of those in the community. Through the relationships that this fosters they will, lord-willing, establish a group of people who desire to know more about the generous, sacrificial nature of the love of Christ, and ultimately a "church family" will be established....love it!! The similarity of what we're called to do at the SEMC and these national leaders in El Salvador is amazing.
Third, we heard from two families, the Berstads and the McCallisters. I've referenced their blog on the right side of our blog. They each have 4 young children and have moved down to El Salvador for at least one year. They have sacrificed much, they have suffered loss despite what many would consider a "noble" cause and yet they have persevered to do what God is calling them to do, despite the difficulties they have faced or will face. Their desire is to build 12 houses during this year, with the hope of helping each family they build for in a more significant, tangible and personal manner than you can in a one week trip. They will also provide support for Pastor Jorge in assisting the teams as they come to El Salvador. There is so much I could share about them, but in the end my heart is too full to express it adequately. I just know that we can also help them, pray for them and support them in many ways.
Lastly, as team leaders, we took all of the info that we have shared in meetings over the course of two days, as well as our years of experience, and discussed and discerned what are the next steps, going forward.
We all agree, that there is still work the Lord has for us to do. We all agree that lives are being brought into the Kingdom of God as a result of what we've already done. However, going forward we want to be very intentional about providing a long lasting sustainable manner for the churches in El Salvador to have continuing ministry in the areas that we are working. We believe these new partnerships mentioned above will be a strategic part of what happens in the future. We also feel that we need to be careful not to deal people according to our relative abundance, but according to their need. Most of all we need to be careful to go forward prayerfully, discerning what the Lord desires for us to do among the people here.
Thank you for your continued prayer.