Urban Ministry

Planting

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”  Warren Buffet is quoted as saying those words, and no doubt his intent was to make a point about business investments. But really, those words can speak to any investment. One thing I have learned over the years is that urban ministry is much more about investing than anything else…more about planting than harvesting. It’s about walking the streets to find that one available piece of fertile dirt, perhaps hidden behind a graffiti covered wall or some barbed wire. It’s about digging deep in my pocket for that seed, then casting it, maybe not even believing myself that it will take root. The planting is hot and exhausting, it’s relentless and it feels like it will […]

Independence Festival

Music blaring over the loudspeakers…carnival games with prizes…balloon animals…the smell of popcorn…dancing and laughter. It sounds like a community country fair, doesn’t it? Now just imagine that fair is not far from downtown San Salvador and that the guests include our clients who are taking the morning off of therapy and job training to celebrate independence. As we closed El Salvador’s independence month, it only seemed fitting to celebrate the independence that our community is finding bit by bit. Whether through progress in a therapeutic setting, or simply learning to depend on someone else small steps are happening. Even the freedom to laugh and enjoy life is worth celebrating. There was lots of laughter at our Independence Festival! Prizes were giving out for the ring toss, bingo, and fishing game […]

Default – En Modo

Full disclosure? Sometimes my default setting becomes hopeless. Or frustrated. Maybe discouraged. Or even ashamed. Yes, I’m ashamed to admit that there are days that I want to give up. We’ve faced enough hard things as a staff that I know it’s not just me. The thing is there are some days when the broken systems around me feel like mountains that are just too big to climb. It’s like I’m spinning my wheels trying to wind up a muddy slope. It’s messy, and I end up feeling tired and dirty by the end of the day. But some days are different. This past Monday was one of those days. If you follow our work, you know that we launched the Lighthouse Resource Center back in January. We have celebrated […]

Mother’s Day at the Lighthouse Resource Center -Día de la Madre en el Centro de Recursos El Faro

At the Lighthouse Resource Center we serve our most vulnerable neighbors. Many of those neighbors are single moms. Mother’s Day is a really big deal in El Salvador. All businesses and schools are closed as people take the day to celebrate their mothers. But for single moms who lack a support system, Mother’s Day can be a painful time of year. Each year we have celebrated the moms in our community, and this year was no different! Last week we had a Mother’s Day event where all moms were invited to come and receive a word of encouragement from God’s Word, some gifts, a piece of cake, and some special treatment just for them. Our army of volunteers stepped up to make these moms feel special. From a “design your […]

What If? – ¿Y Si?

Two years ago I stood at my desk in the hot and humid upstairs of our first building. Wedged in around boxes of bras, I stood in front of the fan by the window staring directly across the street at a large building. A “For Sale” sign had just been hung up. What if we could somehow get that space?  A year later and we were there. We were in the building, renting it, stretching each month but it was happening. There was room to breathe, to work, to receive clients, to host a small church on the weekends. Then there was the chance to buy it, to make a plan to pay it off, to make it ours. But what if there was more?  Jump ahead six months and my head […]

All The Pieces – Todas Las Piezas

Her head was bent against the woman’s next to her as they quickly pieced together a child’s puzzle on the floor. A look of annoyance flickered across her face when she realized that a piece was missing. The picture was incomplete, the image coming into focus, but still distorted. In that moment, Jon pulled the missing pieces out from behind his back and handed them to each group. Quickly, she pressed the last piece into place and looked up with a smile. There it was, the image in view. Solving a child’s puzzle wasn’t just a moment of amusement, but rather a metaphor to talk to her and our other clients about new things, transitions, opportunities for growth. A few weeks ago we made a big change. We consolidated all […]

Ending the Poverty of Community – Terminando con la Pobreza de la Comunidad

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”  The words above were said by Mother Teresa who spent her life with and for the poor. She lived with those who experienced extreme physical poverty, but she learned that there is a greater poverty still…the poverty of community. We meet so many people who have come to the end of the line, who have come up short after churning through their physical resources. They may come for food or clothing, but they stay because they are searching for a place to belong. A place to feel loved, a place to be cared for and remembered…a community. Perhaps overcoming the poverty of […]

One Year Closer – Un Año Más Cerca

On the blog today, a few words from our Executive Director, Jon Snyder… One of my favorite things is when our clients volunteer in our programs. The reality is that they do a way better job than I ever could at reaching someone right where they are…because they’ve been there. Yes, they have been in a place of addiction and struggle, but today they aren’t. No, today they are part of a team serving and loving everyone who comes in our doors. Adan is young man who is currently one of our volunteers. We met him 2 ½ years ago when we were just beginning the process of opening New Dawn as a drop-in center. When we first met him he was heavily addicted to marijuana, cocaine, and crack. He […]

Today I Saw Jesus – Hoy He Visto Jesús

Today I saw Jesus in one of my co-workers. This particular man recently suffered some significant health challenges. He had every right to call out sick and not show up in the office today. But he did anyway. You see, he directs a micro-enterprise where our clients get a fresh start making cards. He is their biggest fan…encouraging them, cheering them on, helping them to reach for healing and new life. They were here to work and so he was here too. This simple act of selflessness, of love for others, reminded me of who Jesus is and why we do any of this. I aspire to have this kind of dedication, this compassion, this deep love that says “others before me.” Instead I so often focus on my own […]

Saliendo a la Superficie – Breaking through the Ground

Por Alexia Rodríguez  Sembrar y cuidar plantas es quizás uno de mis pasatiempos favoritos. En El Salvador tenemos una planta a la que comúnmente se le llama: Ginger. Es una especie de mata que puede crecer y crecer, con hojas verdes largas y una flor muy particular y muy linda. Hay Gingers rojos y Gingers rosados. Me encanta ponerlos en floreros de vidrio…¡Se ven espectaculares! Y pueden durar en buen estado entre 10 y 15 días. Siempre los admiraba en la casa de mi tía –y los cortaba para hacer arreglos…!-, hasta que un día ella me regaló algunos para sembrarlos en mi jardín, y así lo hice. ¡Me emocionó la idea de por fin tener mis propios Ginger en casa! El “pequeño” detalle que no sabía es que sembrarlos […]

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