“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ISAIAH 9:2, 6
Imagine if you lived in poverty. Imagine that you lost your home in an earthquake, or a mudslide, or because you couldn’t pay the rent. Imagine that gangs were trying to recruit your ten year old son to join their ranks. Imagine that your home was made of carboard and scap metal that made it horribly hot, or let cool wind blow right through. Imagine that you went to bed hungry, and feared for your future. Imagine that you lived on the margins of society, in the shadows.
Many people in the Gerardo Barrios slum community do not have to imagine these things at all, because they live them every day. They struggle under the weight of poverty with no ability to plan for their future. Yes, it is true that there are some people in this community who choose to live like this. But there are many who are out of options. They need hope. They need a friend. They need a meal. They need the Gospel. The Gospel, the Good News that there is life outside of the shadow.
This community has welcomed us in to work with them, to encourage them, and to share the Gospel with them. We have been building relationships in the community through a children’s program. They have given us a platform to share the good news that God loves them, that Jesus died for them, and that they can have an eternal hope.
It must be said that material poverty does not equal spiritual poverty, and there are people in Gerardo Barrios who have a relationship with Jesus. But, there are many who don’t, and many who are caught in the gang lifestyle or who don’t really understand what it means to know God personally. We want to encourage those who are following God, and reach those who don’t know Him.
God has given us the task of caring for the poor, for the hungry, the fatherless, and the widows of this world. Gerardo Barrios is full of people who fit this description. Last Saturday, we had the great opportunity to serve the people of Gerardo Barrios with the two-fold good news of meeting a physical need and sharing God’s truth.
We got up early in the morning and headed into the community to set things up. Local actors shared a Christmas play and we raffled off baskets of groceries. Francisco, the director of YWAM El Salvador, shared a message about God’s love and God’s desire to know us personally. That is why He sent His Son to enter into our world. That is what Christmas is all about.
Finally, we served a meal to everyone in the community. The community leaders were in charge of organizing and distributing tickets and then we gave a hot meal and a cool drink to everyone…that added up to 850 people! Things went incredibly well as we passed out food from two stations, and utilized the help of many volunteers. There were many smiles. God was at work through the whole event, and even though some gang members were hanging around we didn’t have any problems. We even had a chance to share a meal with them.
We couldn’t have done this without the help of our faithful donors, so we thank you for bringing light into the darkness this Christmas! Check out some pictures from the event.
The crowd begins to gather.
Lots of children came to hang out with us and watch the play.
Victoria and Ian were big helpers!
Our great friend and local chef, Craig Michaels, who made the food!
YWAM El Salvador staff member, Jonathan, in front of one of the stations.
Local actors presented a Christmas play to the community.
Ian and two of his friends watching the play.
All the kids loved watching the Christmas show!
People of all ages gathered for the event.
Francisco shared a message, and then we raffled off baskets of groceries.
The whole community divded into two lines to pick up their meals.
Ian took his drink distribution job very seriously.
These kids are helping carry the meals for their families. The umbrella is due to the very sunny day. We all got a little sunburned!
We have such a great team of volunteers!
Tori helped keep things organized.
Thumbs up for a great meal!