ENLACE began in 1993 and is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year. We have grown from a staff of three to over 50 in El Salvador and the U.S., and from one church to over 70 churches in 120 communities serving 125,000 people...and counting. We are so appreciative of all the pastors, leaders, community members, missionary volunteers, Salvadoran staff and donors like you! Thank you for making our first 20 years absolutely amazing!
Entries in ENLACE STAFF (9)
Give Prints is a for-profit company which donates 50% of its profits to various non-profits. Recently, when Give Prints founder, Cristina Robeck wanted to make an even greater impact, she decided to share talent not just profits. She assembled a team, called Give Media, which consisted of two photographers, two videographers, a media consultant, and a writer. They traveled to El Salvador to artistically capture ENLACE’s work and support the ENLACE Communications Department. We are grateful for the team’s passion, dedication, willingness to share their knowledge, and the way God spoke into their lives during their time in El Salvador.
Michelle Zuniga is a passionate young woman who has truly impacted El Salvador through her service with ENLACE this past year. Michelle built intimate friendships with dozens of ENLACE staff as well as church and community members throughout El Salvador. In addition, she exhibited the true nature of the word ‘enlace’ by acting as a ‘link’ between local churches and dozens of groups from the U.S. As Jeff Costa of the Crossing said, it is evident that “God is with her as she serves side by side with each group that comes down.” This sentiment was reiterated by everyone who had the privelege of working with her. ENLACE’s medical doctor, Dr. Zuleyma Chahin, worked side by side with Michelle many times and says that Michelle worked “with a sense of compassion and God’s love that was reflected in all that she did.”
At ENLACE, we believe that restored relationships are at the root of any lasting change. By coming to her mother’s native land with an open heart to serve, the relationships that Michelle leaves behind will continue to help transform communities for many years to come!
Thank you, Michelle!
by Kim Frederick
"ENLACE’s greatest challenge concerning our 2015 plan does not involve finances, administration or leadership, nor does it concern human resources. The challenge is spiritual. The biggest challenge for us will be to keep ourselves centered on Christ and to allow Him to change, prepare, and guide us to complete our mission." Ron Bueno, ENLACE Founder and Director
Certain that our greatest challenge is spiritual, we, as ENLACE staff, are committed to seeking a life radically dependent on God, and to live under His authority and grace. In efforts to remain focused on Him, the ENLACE staff gathers every Monday to pray together and share a time of devotion. Recently, our director, Ron Bueno has been urging us to “return to the basics.” As he pointed out, if ENLACE is going to continue to expand and reach more churches and communities in El Salvador, our greatest challenge is to keep God at the front and center of all our efforts.
Over the 18 years that ENLACE has been serving as a link for churches and communities in El Salvador, we have seen God open doors, change hearts, and bless the lives of those living in more than 50 communities. For several years, we maintained a small number of church partners, but as they are becoming Leader Churches and examples to other churches in their areas, the small spark of change has become a wildfire. In fact, we have now reached a point in which there are so many new Salvadoran churches interested in partnering with ENLACE that we had to form a waiting list of potential partners while we search for more US churches to partner with their efforts. It is amazing to see the hearts of pastors all over the country turn toward an integral mission and a desire to serve those in need!
We have learned much from our experiences over the years, and we continue place a strong emphasis on the following:
- Confidence. We believe that God has entrusted us with a calling and has prepared us for a specific purpose.
- Family Heritage and Tradition. God has left us a pattern of conduct, values, and principles to which we must be faithful and which we must appreciate.
- A Call and Spiritual Gifts. Each one of us has made a vow before Christ to be one of His ambassadors.
- The Character of a Christian Servant. We’re committed to act like people who follow God.
To focus on the above ideas, we know we must embody four key characteristics:
- Bravery. We must be brave enough to face challenges from God, to go to difficult places, to make tough decisions, and take necessary actions.
- Power. We must remember that the same power that resurrected Christ lives in us.
- Love. We must fall deeply in love with God so that we cease to focus only on our own interests, and instead focus on seeing and loving our neighbors.
- Discipline. We must have the discipline to seek God’s presence and to follow Him with with our words and our minds so that we may recognize our successes and failures in our attempts to be like Him.
We urge you to stay involved with ENLACE and to pray for us this year, as we are challenged with staying focused in the face of growth and change. We, too, will be thinking and praying for your churches and families. Thank you for your ongoing encouragement and support!
by Martha Granados de Mancia, ENLACE Communications Coordinator
Luis Gonzalez, the father of long-time ENLACE employee Francisco “Paco” Gonzalez, passed away on June 15. It was a sad and emotional moment for many in the ENLACE family as we were reminded of our vulnerability and short life on this earth. However, it was also a moment to ponder on the legacy of a loving father.
I’ve often heard people talk of God as a father, and when I think of the word ‘father’ I like to think of my childhood days; days when I was wasn’t afraid to express my feelings and sit with him, joking and smiling. Even running around outside, with his care and attention, I hadn't a worry in the world.
To think that we ought to be as children is an unusual thought these days, but it is also very important. Time passes and we often don’t notice that daily routines have captivated our attention, and what we should really be doing is sitting and admiring the life that our Father has given us. The death of Paco’s father put a stop to our normal routine of a work-week at ENLACE. We prayed for Paco’s mother, his sister and for Paco. We remembered the death of his twin brother, Felipe, while Paco was studying in Germany. We stopped. We took time to appreciate Paco’s life and be grateful for his presence in our lives.
It was beautiful to see Pastors Miguel Duran and Santos Carpio as well as community leaders like Dona Tonita, a lay leader of the Catholic Church in Las Delicas; They were all there in support of Paco, a man who has inspired their lives through his life and work. The Holy Spirit was also present filling us with peace and brought the family a sense of security thinking about Don Luis and his arrival at a place of rest. Luisa Gonzalez, Paco’s sister, said during the funeral ceremony, “My Dad was always happy. He showed us how to see things from a positive perspective and he urged us to remain united.”
“Don Luis Gonzalez was 92 years old when he went to meet his Lord and his words through his daughter, Luisa, continue to instruct us to see life with a positive attitude while remaining united in love.
In the early years, when ENLACE was run from a church choir room in San Salvador, and three volunteers (Ron Bueno, Dave Bueno and Dorita Reinoza) shared one 486 computer and a white, beat up truck, the vision was to help the rural poor gain access to a healthier and more stable way of life. The ambitious nature of such a vision was not lost on these volunteers and yet, according to Ron, who eventually became ENLACE’s executive director, a frequent refrain was heard amidst the choir robes from Zechariah 4.10; Despise not the day of small beginnings.
And so as Ron, Dave, and Dorita began to develop an effective approach to resolving the needs of poverty, they were led by God from focussing on projects to people, a story captured recently in Vanguard University Magazine.
“The very first project we did was a big water initiative,” says Ron. “Everyone in the community was engaged. It was a smashing success by any development standard. We thought, ‘We rock.’ To this day it’s one of the best water systems in whole region. But shortly after everybody got water, I realized everybody worked together only because they needed it. When a spigot broke or a neighbor couldn’t afford it anymore, they wouldn’t help each other. No matter how well designed and managed the system was, it did not ultimately change people’s hearts and therefore would not change the community.
“God kept challenging me, ‘Unless I am changing hearts and relationships, there’s not going to be long-term change. If it’s not my church doing it, it isn’t going to happen.’ That was a real turning point for me and for Enlace.”
To read the rest of the story, including present missionaries and Vanguard alums, Pete and Dara DeSoto and James and Rebecca Huff, click here.
by Frederick McGough
As a member of ADSA’s Advisory Committee, I have been able to see firsthand how effective rural churches in El Salvador can be when they reach out to their communities and initiate programs and projects that benefit of the whole community. They understand their biblical calling which is to engage their community and be instigators of action. In the process, relationships are restored between community members and with God. I have witness this transformation, and in that process I am being transformed and my heart is being renovated.
Project Milagro is an amazing example of this. To think that the rural church of 60 members, whose pastor has a 2nd grade formal education, has been able to effectively mobilized three communities, their community leaders, local government officials, federal congressional diplomats, and the national water organization ANDA, to focus on the common goal of providing inexpensive and clean water to 1,300 households. It is truly remarkable to watch as this church facilitate a multi-million dollar water project. Furthermore, since the project was birthed in the community itself, is being managed by community leaders, and requires community participation, the ownership and sustainability of the project will remain in the community's hands.
My “gringo mentality” still occasionally limits my comprehension of the sheer significance of the above. I fall back to my “first world” perspective and wonder why the project is taking forever and a day to complete. I frequently second guess the seemingly endless inefficient construction logistics, and even at times have questioned the overall feasibility of the project.
Yet over time working with the community, I have come to understand the communal importance of the community members digging the trenches by hand vs. using a machine. I also see the affirmative impact of all community leaders having a say in the process even if it takes weeks to make simple decisions versus "outside experts" telling them what to do. And the magnitude of ownership gained by ADSA in their countless meetings with governmental officials to become a legal water board versus paying "big city attorneys" to accomplish this task cannot be overstated.
Only in retrospect, do I fully appreciate that the “means” is as important as the “ends”. Sure, “the outside world” could construct a water system for the community in a fraction of the time and maybe for less money. By participating in this community transformation, I've learned that since the community is the long term "stakeholder" it's only through the many trials and tribulations that come from the process that the proper sense of responsibility and ownership is birthed.
Last, but far from least, through this project, I have seen what it means to have real faith; faith in ourselves, faith in our neighbors, and most importantly, faith in God. Project Milagro is God’s work, and it will be completed in His time. We all must continue to have faith that God will continue to provide the resources. We all must continue put that faith into action and make the most of the resources that He provides. And when the project is completed, our faith will lead us to praise the Lord for what He has provided and our hearts will have true joy from the restored relationships among each other and with God.
For those of you who have known me for more than five years, this blog might be hard to believe. All I can say is that God is slowly transforming me. He has shown me what it means to be truly poor and destitute, beginning with the man I see in the mirror every morning.
May peace be with you all.
Click here to read Part 1 of Frederick's "Journey of Transformation"...
By Margarita Campos and Michelle Bueno
As a child, Nuria Reyes learned to be passionate about two things: God’s Word and her family. Through her parents’ examples, Nuria saw that a passion for God and others leads to a life of service. Their faithfulness planted a seed in her that took root and grew deeply over the years.
Nuria became involved in a variety of church ministries; Children’s Ministry, Youth Group, Sunday School, and other endeavors all sprouted from her life as a committed Christian. Eventually she pursued and received a degree in Theology, taught at The Biblical Institute for the Asamblea de Iglesias Cristianas and eventually became the Director of Education for that same denomination.
It was during her tenure as the Director of Education that she met Miguel Duran, a pastor in the San Martin area who had been collaborating with ENLACE for many years. Nuria worked with Pastor Miguel for five years and saw first-hand the impact that was being made in Las Delicias by his congregation, The Good Samaritan Church, and ENLACE.
When Pastor Miguel told Nuria about a job opening with ENLACE that required biblical training, a passionate heart to help those in need and a desire to learn about community transformation, she knew it was for her. Nuria felt a new excitement spring up in her heart. After she was hired Nuria said,
“Working for ENLACE is more than excellent because I don’t just put into practice my studies, but I have learned about community development by serving others and living out the gospel.”
Today Nuria walks alongside pastors, lay-leaders and whole congregations as they live the passionate journey of demonstrating God’s love. The seed that was planted in her heart from when she was a young girl, has grown into a great, sheltering tree. With a wonderful husband by her side and new baby daughter, Nuria is now passionate about three things: “I’m passionate about the Word of God, my family and my job at ENLACE.”
"Jesus said, 'How can I describe the kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed. Though this is one of the smallest of seeds, it grows to become one of the largest of plants, with long branches where birds can come and find shelter."
Mark 4:30-32 NLT
We are excited to announce that we have recently hired three new staff members for our church and community program and are now working in five new churches.
Nuria de Reyes was hired as a church and community advisor. Previously Nuria worked closely with Miguel Duran and the Good Samaritan Church in Las Delicias as the director of education for their denomination. Nuria came with high recommendations and has already been an amazing and valuable addition. Nuria is finishing her Masters in Theology and Missiology while also giving classes at a local Bible College. She says, "I was was most impacted by ENLACE’s distinct form in which they work with the church and help them become truly connected to their community."
Arturo Perez was also brought on as a church and community advisor. Arturo acquired his Masters in Theology and Missiology while working as the Director of Missions and the Director of the Bible Institute for the Templo Cristiano Assembly of God Church in San Salvador. Arturo was most impressed by ENLACE after seeing so many churches with extremely limited resources that committed to serving its communities.
Our third addition to the ENLACE family is Lilia de Gomez (or Lilí ). Lilí will work as an Initiative Supervisor, overseeing the development and implementation of the work plans assigned to the ENLACE field staff. Lilí is originally from Ecuador and came to El Salvador with her husband in hopes of fulfilling a call they felt to missions. Lilí has been CREDATEC’s head of credit for the past seven years and is excited about making the move over to helping the ENLACE field staff. Lilí has a degree in Theolgy with a concentration in Missions Studies and is currently working on her MBA during nights and weekends.
We feel extremely blessed that God has brought this new staff to us so that we may continue working and expanding this ministry. But there could be more!
Over the past two years we have begun working with five new churches, corresponding to the natural overflow of interest in the communities where we have worked for so long. In San Jose El Naranjo, for example, two churches have joined our efforts under the guidance of Pastor Marco Melara and his outreach committee. In the Abelines area, two new churches are now receiving training after seeing the impact that Pastor Victorio Paz and the social outreach and health committees were making. Likewise, Pastor Miguel Duran and his church leaders have asked ENLACE to help them begin the training with one other church in their area. In each of these instances, there have been many more churches (in two cases, the local Catholic Church leaders have asked for Biblical training) interested in having ENLACE walk alongside them as they begin to serve their communities.
We simply do not yet have the staff or resources to walk alongside these churches and leaders. With this in mind, we developed the Friends of ENLACE program to give our friends a chance to support ENLACE’s growth. This program gives you the opportunity to easily donate to our church and community program on a monthly basis. In doing so, you are supplying our church and community program with the resources needed to continue to walk alongside these new churches. Please consider committing to three years of monthly gifts and help support the ongoing work that is literally transforming poor communities all over El Salvador.
Click here to go to the donate now page where you can set-up easy monthly payments by credit card.