We recently chose a name for our homeless ministry…instead of just calling it “homeless ministry” or “street kids.” The name we chose is “El Faro” which means “The Lighthouse” in English. We chose this name because we want to be a light shining and welcoming those who are struggling through dark storms in their lives. Our work for those on the street includes preparing and distributing meals for those sleeping on the streets, it includes adult literacy, and it includes weekly meetings on Tuesdays.
During this weekly time we share a meal with the teenagers and men (and sometimes women and children) who come to the base. They also have a chance to take a shower and trade in their old shoes and clothes for new ones. We share a devotional about God from the Bible, as well as talk to them, play cards, and just hang out. Occasionally some of the guys will come around other times during the week to “work” which gives them an opportunity to earn the things that we are giving them.
We want to reach these guys, but now we are struggling with balancing the risk to the base and our safety with continuing to invest in them. Yesterday was a regular Tuesday, but it quickly escalated. One of the young teenage boys had a large butcher knife with him. The boys are not allowed to bring drugs, alcohol, or weapons into the base. But somehow, this boy got by. When Jon asked him to leave he became very angry screaming at Jon and telling him that he is not wanted in El Salvador. He then took a few swings at him with the knife. In the midst of that, the other guys quickly chose sides. One ended up getting punched in the mouth and gushing blood. The one who punched him then left the base and went on a screaming rampage throwing rocks and calling down threats on Jon and the other staff. Thankfully, everyone was kept safe, including Ian who was at the base with Jon yesterday.
Eventually, the police were called to deal with the out of control boy in the street. Jon left to take Gerber, the boy who was punched, to the hospital. Julio Cesar accompanied him. Julio is one who has been in and out of rehab and is struggling with changing. By the end of the night, Gerber was stitched up and Jon had some great conversations with Julio. Julio is torn up inside because he has made a committment to Christ in the past but he feels overpowered by his alcohol and drug addictions. We are hoping to get him into a rehab place as early as today because he seems genuinely to want to start over. We will see if he shows up at the base today.
This is real life for us. We are working with men and women who have been living in darkness. They are at the very lowest points imaginable, caught up in addictions and bad choices and sins. We know that our struggle as Paul said, “is not just against flesh and blood” but it is against the darkness at work in San Salvador. There is much reason to hope. But there is a struggle, a battle for the souls and minds of these men. Please pray with us as we consider the future of this ministry and how we should move forward. We know that God is working. We know it’s happening. We don’t want to back down, but we also want to be wise. We will probably be suspending The Lighthouse Tuesday ministry for a while to seek God’s leading with all of this. Thanks for your prayers.