A Tale Of Two Cities

Monday night, I sat transfixed in front of my TV screen. Buildings burning, people in the streets, local leaders urging youth to go home…all of it happening in Baltimore, Maryland as protests turned violent.  I grew up in the suburbs outside of the city and it was shocking to see familiar Baltimore streets take center stage on international news. The sense of loss, anger, and frustration shown by those rioting was heartbreaking. Stories circulated on social media by local friends describing plans to target police, and showing pictures of smashed up police cars and looted businesses. Meanwhile, the local news in San Salvador highlighted recent violence against police as gangs joined forces to target them. Grenades tossed into police stations, teenage boys killed by police because of suspected gang activity. I […]

Love Like A Gangster

In El Salvador, Valentine’s Day is called “Love and Friendship Day” and last month we celebrated love and friendship with all of the women involved in the Free The Girls program here in El Salvador. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and niece were visiting so they helped serve, and a group of women in the States that pray regularly for the girls helped to sponsor the party. We had pizza and candy, a raffle, and a discussion about love. The reality is that these women have received some very mixed-up messages about love. Sex is very distorted in their minds, and abuse and manipulation by “boyfriends” have further confused any notion of romance, love, and affection for them. Part of my work with them is addressing the lies about what love is […]

At Risk

Risk. It’s a word that we hear thrown around in conversation. “Don’t risk it.” “Take a risk.” “At your own risk.” Sometimes the thought of a risk seems thrilling, exciting, on the edge. Other times it seems foolish and like something best avoided. We do a lot of things to take the risk factor right out of our lives. We live in homes with doors that lock, and drive cars with airbags and seat belts. We make choices about our health, our bodies, and what we put into them. We wear sunblock, and floss our teeth to lower our risks, to extend our lives, and to avoid sickness and pain. But what if you were born “at risk?” What if you stepped out of a warm, safe place and in […]

Immigration…It’s Complicated

This morning as I was driving in my car listening to talk radio, I heard about the latest public awareness campaign. This one is called “Dream Versus Nightmare” and is targeted at educating would-be immigrants about the potential perils involved in taking the journey North. I also opened the paper earlier this week to read the latest news from last week’s meeting between Obama and Central American leaders. As I flipped through the paper other stories were reported…the skyrocketing number of Salvadoran students killed so far this year, another double homicide, more Salvadorans abandoning their neighborhoods in the dark of night because gangs caused them to fear for their lives. There are complicated messages out there…it is absolutely true that immigration can take a dream and turn it into a […]

A Generation Lost

New statistics have been released regarding homicide rates around the globe. I am saddened to see that El Salvador lands in the top five along with other Central American countries. As a whole Latin America is more violent than any other region on earth, and while the rates of femicide are high, the majority of the victims are males. That means that more people lose their sons, fathers, brothers, nephews, uncles, cousins, boyfriends, and friends to homicide than in any other region. What is more tragic, is that they lose them young. This report shows that the homicide rate among 15-29 year old males is more than four times the global rate. Four times the death, the pain, the loss, and the suffering. Four times the mothers that have to […]

Did You Know?

In my last post, I highlighted the need for one-on-one connections with our friends on the street. That’s the heart of the Lighthouse Project. The more we get to know our clients, the more we learn just exactly what they are up against. For example, did you know that El Salvador has a higher death rate from alcohol consumption than any other country in the Americas? Did you know that men in El Salvador are 27.8% more likely to die from an alcohol related cause than women? (You can read the full article here). Did you know that this past weekend, the Salvadoran newspaper La Prensa Grafica reported that 40 children have been murdered so far in El Salvador this year? Forty lives 17 and under have been cut short since January […]

Tolkien and Tragedy

Sitting at my desk in El Salvador, the news reports are pouring in…bombings, death in Boston. I scroll down the other news stories and I read about death in the Middle East, hatred in Asia. I take in the local news stories. Gangs at war, youth lost again. “So much death. What can man do against such reckless hate?” These epic words were spoken by King Theoden in the second film installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Those of you who know me, know that I am a huge J.R.R. Tolkien fan. I’ve read the books, and a weekend spent in a LOTR movie marathon is a great weekend as far as I’m concerned. I think Tolkien resonates with so many people because his themes of tyranny, tragedy, […]

El Salvador Gang Truce Highlighted by the BBC

Today when I was reading the news online, I came across a story highlighting El Salvador’s gang truce. The truce means the murder rate has fallen significantly, but many Salvadorans remain suspicious. Check out the story by the BBC  for a glimpse into a prison housing gang members, and some of the story behind El Salvador’s gang problems. It’s definitely worth reading.

Community Ministry Center Coming Soon!

Three years ago we came to El Salvador with the dream of impacting those who live on the edges of society…the fatherless, the poor, and those on the streets. We have seen this dream grow into reality and we are excited to share with you the next step for our ministry. Through prayer and circumstances, God has directed us to a permanent location in the city and we are beginning the process of opening a community ministry center! We thank you for your prayers and support as we move forward to secure and renovate this building. Our ministry is focused on reaching kids at risk, homeless children and adults, and individuals working in prostitution… this building will allow us to expand all of those ministries. Up to this point we […]

Small Successes

In El Salvador, many times we count the small successes as big ones. This weekend we are rejoicing in one such success. Three years ago, we were fundraising and in the process of transitioning out of our home in Pittsburgh. Our main goal for moving to El Salvador was to enter into the lives of the people of El Salvador, particularly the fatherless. We had a dream of seeing the fatherless connected with their true Father, and to see them begin a life-long journey of coming to know Him. Beyond that, we also came with the hope of bringing physical and emotional healing and seeing people’s lives change holisticly. The thing we have learned is that small successes come by small steps. Day by day, moment by moment walking through […]

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