The UPG team had a great visit into the villages where they were able to have significant conversations, see the “lay of the land,” and serve through harvesting. They are well, but tired and settling in for the night. Tomorrow they will meet to devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42 ESV) desiring to bring encouragement, refreshment, and to join in community with others who have been faithfully laboring for the kingdom in that place. Thank you for your continued faithful prayers for them and their family members who remained in the states.
Helping bring in the corn harvest for a family whose grandmother is ill.
And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
(Luke 10:2 ESV)
Here’s a quick update on the team… After traveling for over 30 hours, the team finally arrived at their hotel around 3 AM local time. All were very tired but slept well.
The trip got off to a great start. In the morning they visited a simple factory where clay water pot filters are made. These filters could be a doorway into rural village ministry–“in word and in deed.”
In the afternoon they met with some of the partners we are working with, including two who will travel out with them tomorrow. For dinner they went to the home of a local shepherd who fixed an incredible meal with all the fixings for them.
Tomorrow the real adventure begins as they travel out to where the UPG lives.
Pray for Open Doors, Open Mouths, and Open Hearts.
“For as the rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
As we prepare to leave El Salvador and return home, we leave with mixed emotions. Each one on our team has seen the Lord work in great ways this week. We have formed wonderful friend relationships with the WOL team – when you partner together in ministry there is a strong bond that is built. Last night we were able to spend a couple hours with the WOL team at the office celebrating what the Lord has done this week. Marcelo grilled a la argentine tradition (it was incredible), and we were able to share and spend time together.
I have asked a few of our team members to share briefly one take-away from our time here:
“I have been humbled this week, and become more thankful for the Lord’s provision in my life. The Salvadorian people have less and yet are more thankful. They are willing to give. They invited us in and welcomed us. We have so much and yet can learn so much from them.” – Cameron
“I am impressed with how well the WOL team works together. It’s amazing how much they are able to accomplish with each other.” – Ed
“I appreciate the receptivity of the people here. They may not receive the gospel message, but the are glad to have a conversation with you about it.” – David
“It is the Lord who saves. No one comes to the Lord unless he draws them. We can speak the gospel clearly and passionately, but we need him to work in hearts.” – Carter
“I have been reminded what the church really is. Worshipping in a place without walls and a bamboo roof, we see that the church is more than a building, it is the people gathered together to worship God.” – Ellee
“Sharing the gospel is our responsibility, whether we are in El Salvador or at home. God gives us opportunity to share, we need to respond to those opportunities.” -Teresa
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:1-2
As we start our last day of ministry here in El Salvador, I have been encouraged by the gospel message over and over. When you share about the grace of God in Jesus and the new life we have in Christ, and then see people of all ages respond in faith, it is such an encouragement to the soul! In sharing, I have been reminded of the vastness and the depth of my sin, the necessary punishment of a righteous and holy God, the sacrificial death of the Son of God in my place, the gracious gift of forgiveness and righteousness, new life in Christ, and eternal life in fellowship with our Creator. And getting back into our van, I hear our students sharing stories of grace, methods for sharing the gospel with clarity, and anticipation for sharing again. Wow! We never move past the gospel!
Yesterday, we had the privilege of sharing the gospel with 3 more schools (approx. 700-800 students) – presenting the “Empty Heart” drama and breaking into small groups to teach.
A few other highlights from the day:
- Seeing a group of students huddled around Ed because they liked to hear him talk.
- Eating lunch at McDonald’s – let’s just say the Big Mac knows no cultural boundaries!
- Eating pupusas for the first time overlooking San Salvador.
- Seeing Carter rocking out his role in the skit – moon walk, electric slide, macarena, and much more. (Usually those participating in the drama stand with their backs to the crowd, but we changed it up due to the heat and then we could see the other parts.)
- Showing little Salvadorian kids pictures of the snow – Rachel Delaney, there are some kids here who think you are a professional snowboarder because I still had that pic on my phone of you sledding. #translationprobs
After a few days here, I am realizing that El Salvador is very different from our American culture and lifestyle. Driving down the road and seeing a pick-up truck with 10 guys hanging out of the back is not the American way – here riding in trucks is encouraged, not prohibited. Police officers carrying machine guns. Families welcoming complete strangers into their homes – stopping all that they were doing and gathering the whole family together – to have a conversation about the gospel.
Yesterday was another example of a completely different culture. We were able to share the gospel in 3 public schools – approximately 600 to 700 students total. When we arrived, the teachers dismissed their class to the commons area to see our program. The WOL team gathered and welcomed the students, introduced us, and then we started the gospel presentation. Our team participated in the “Empty Heart” drama that depicts a young man who is searching for satisfaction in the things of this world (materialism, popularity, drugs and alcohol, girls, religion, etc.). His heart can not be filled with any of these pursuits and he is left in despair until he is introduced to the “Christo”. Jesus Christ not only offers eternal life, but following him in this life brings purpose and satisfaction.
After the drama, a WOL missionary summarized the drama and clarified the gospel. After a few minutes, the students were gathered into smaller groups for discussion. Our team had the opportunity to lead these small groups and teach with the help of translators. The Salvadorian students are given the opportunity to respond to the gospel and contacts are given to a local church. I believe the WOL team is coming up next week to assist with follow up and train the churches to engage these students and their families.
Reflecting on yesterday’s events, the Lord is really at work through the WOL ministry here. Would this happen in the USA? Probably not, but praise the Lord that these opportunities are a reality here. Please pray for these students and their families. Pray that the churches would be able to engage them and that they would be connected to a church body for support and discipleship growth. Please pray the the schools will continue to be open to WOL sharing the gospel to the students.
Today we are heading out on a tourism day to see more of this beautiful country.
El Salvador has almost 7,000,000 people. How do you reach them with the gospel and teach them to become disciples of Jesus Christ?
In the past few days our team has spent a lot of time driving around the Salvadorian countryside, in route to our next ministry destination. I have been able to hear from the WOL leadership about their vision and goals – to reach this beautiful country with the Gospel. WOL seeks to share the gospel with 20,000 Salvadorians each year – which is a huge goal and yet a drop in the bucket compared to the total number. And how could a team of 22 effectively follow up with and disciple that many people?
[enter the local church]
As I have heard and witnessed, the WOL team is committed to the local church. Even in short, passing conversations with WOL missionaries, I hear their love and commitment for their church. Each are committed to teaching the Bible (they call it “Bible Clubs”) and developing leaders and making disciples. Each day we have partnered with churches, a pastor and several members, to go into homes to share. If the gospel is going to continue to increase in this country, it is going to need strong, healthy churches to make and grow disciples.
Yesterday morning, we traveled to Santiago de la Frontera (a small town near the Gautamian border) and were welcomed by brothers and sisters from Oasis Evangelical Church. This open-air shelter constructed from tree limbs and corrugated sheet metal was filled with life – children were singing, warm greetings from the adults, and strategic planning for the day’s work.
The Lord is at work here and I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the gospel ministry here. Please continue to pray for our team. Today we are heading back to Santiago de la Frontera to preach the gospel in the school. Please pray for the churches to be strengthened and for more churches to be planted.
We spent most of yesterday traveling to El Salvador. After many hours of flying we were graciously met in the San Salvador airport by Word of Life director Roy and two other missionaries, Rodrigo and Oscar. After grabbing a quick lunch and meeting up with the rest of the WOL team, we set our course northwest to the town of Santa Ana. Traveling through the countryside was an enlightening experience, as we were able to catch a small glimpse of the lifestyle of many who live in this country.
Arriving in Santa Ana, we settled in to our hotel, Tolteka (which are wonderful accommodations), had dinner with the team and spent some time planning and praying. For the next several days, we will be working with churches in this area. As I am learning, the Word of Life team partners with local church to share the gospel and make disciples. There are 268 municipalities in the country of El Salvador, and WOL has been able to partner with churches in 162 of those municipalities, over the last eight years. Our team will have to privilege to minister in the towns of Metapan, Santiago de la Frontera, and Candelaria de la Frontera – frontera can be translated frontier or border. These rural communities (near the Guatemalan border) are very poor and in the words of Roy, are “also poor in spirit – very humble.”
This morning we will participate in a “Super Match” which is a strategy that WOL uses to reach out to high school students. In a local park, we will set up games and activities for the students to participate in and then share the gospel with them through a skit and a message. After lunch we are planning to serve with a local church Dios Es Amor, going door-to-door to share Christ with their community.
Please continue to pray for us and our partnership with the WOL team. The people we seek to engage today most likely have a familiarity with Jesus through cultural Catholic heritage that is strong here. Please pray that the gospel of grace would disassemble a works-righteousness penetrate through a tough religious shell.
This past Saturday, we had 8 teams of students, parents, deacons, and pastors – armed with rakes, blowers, and plastic bags – descend on 25 homes to do serve our church body and have a good time. Below are a few pics from the beautiful afternoon.