Entries in San Jose El Naranjo (10)
"With God's help, I will do my best to serve God, my church, and my fellowman... " Noe Canales repeated this pledge many times as a teenager and as a member of the Royal Rangers, Assemblies of God wilderness for youth. The program strengthened and focused his passion to serve and work for Christ. He now shares this passion with other young men as a volunteer leader for the Royal Rangers, and we are happy that he has recently joined the ENLACE staff as our newest Church Coach.
Despite his deep desire to serve in the ministry, Noe earned a living in a variety of secular jobs after finishing High School. A strong call to serve God eventually led him to study theology. After finishing his third year of school, he was able to get a job with the World Vision.
As a World Vision Christian Commitment Coordinator, Noe gained experience in community development. Through his experience, Noe saw a glimpse of what the rural church can accomplish when it begins to work with its community. He says, “The church is the answer to the problems in our country because the church is the key for the transformation of a nation.”
The World Vision program concluded in 2010, and Noe began to search for a local ministry that empowered churches. During this time he encountered ENLACE, and was seleceted to be part of the ENLACE staff in June, 2011.
His role at ENLACE reflects Noé's desire to work alongisde churches that are involved with real, sustainable community transformation. “I’m excited to be part of this process... walking with the children, with the pastors...walking down the streets of their communities, meeting with them, talking about the challenges in their communities and coming up with solutions, and discussing how the Word of God helps bring development and change.”
This summer we were visited by 10 work and 4 vision teams totalling more than 160 people who served their global neighbors in the churches and communities of San Jacinto, El Progreso, El Ranchador, San José El Naranjo, San Antonio En Medio, El Espino, Santa María and San Martín! Thank you all for your sacraficial service to El Salvador!
Two groups from Seacoast Grace Church in California came to the region of Ahuachapan to work hard and create friendships with the Nueva Jerusalen Church in San José El Naranjo and Voz Que Clama en el Desierto Church in San Antonio En Medio. The first team repaired more than 300 feet of a steep road that had been prone to mudslides and endangered the lives of pedestrians and motorists. The second team completed digging almost 300 feet along the community’s main road. When finished, the water channels will prevent road erosion, keeping the road safe and clear. Not only do these projects generate safety and more opportunities for agriculture and other economic activities, but they also help the local church reach out to their neighbors in ways that create profound connections and long-term transformation.
The Miraflores Public School is one of the only public institutions that exists in the area of El Espino. For years, the school's only security was a wire mesh fence tethered by concrete posts. This substandard security left students, teachers, and the infrastructure itself exposed to outside disruptions such as animals, passersby, and gang members. Since 2008, the need for a perimeter wall has been a priority to the administration, parents, and community members. Stregthened by their work with ENLACE and the newfound confidence in their ability to transform their community through cooperation, Tabernáculo Biblico Salem Church partnered with the local community association and the councillor of San Pedro Perulapán to work on this project. Timberline Community Church from Fort Collins, Colorado came twice this year and was an integral part of the first stage of this project. They helped build the wall and supported local health initiatives by bringing a short-term medical team.
Vineyard Church from Pataskala, Ohio returned to support Zurisadai Church in San Jacinto this year. In 2010, during their first visit to the region, they joined the work of the church to help construct a retaining wall which prevents landslides along one of the area’s main roads. This year, they supported the local church in its effort to give shelter to one of the 25 families that the church and community identified as being the most vulnerable. Through this housing project, the church has further strengthened relationships with the community and also ties of friendship with the Vineyard Church who collaborated in the building of a home for Jose Marroquin and his family. While in San Jacinto, Vineyard Church members also helped move materials for another housing recipient, directed activities for the community’s women and children, hosted a marriage seminar, and visited homes to those in need of food and prayer.
SeaCoast Grace Church from Cypress, CA, continues to have an incredible impact in El Salvador by maintaining an ongoing relationship with the churches and communities in the San Jose El Naranjo region. The initiatives in which they have participated are improving the lives of an entire region of the country (the whole valley surrounding San Jose El Naranjo with more than 11 hamlets and over 10,000 people). Additionally, the relationships that have been formed by maintaining a multi-year connection with a specific region have given motivation to local church and community leaders, as year after year individuals like Debbie Demaree, who has been to the region on 5 different occasions, return to offer support through work and friendship.
This year, two teams came and partnered with the Voz Que Clama en el Desierto church in San Antonio to dig water channels and plant hundreds of plants and trees including pineapple and zacate in support of the reforestation efforts in the area. The reforestation initiative is vital in order to preserve the community's primary water source for years to come. The trees, water channels, and barrier plants will hold water in the area and will conserve the soil while protecting the land from erosion. In addition, the initiative will provide a variety of fruit trees for families in the area.
Sadly, Pedro Flores, pastor of the Voz Que Clama en el Desierto Church, suffered a stroke the night of SeaCoast’s arrival and was unable to be with the teams for most of the week. However, both teams had the opportunity to pray with him and his family, and thankfully he was well enough to attend the dedication service the last day of the trip.
While Pastor Pedro rested with his family, the teams were not only supported by Pastor Pedro’s church, but also by community leaders and by individuals from the local Catholic parish. As in many Salvadoran communities, the community of San Antonio has experienced the wounds resulting from the great division between the Catholic and Protestant churches. However, in recent years there has been a miraculous mending of relationships that was evident during SeaCoast’s visit, as community members were joined together working for one cause. Exemplifying this newly-found unity the 20-year-old Catholic youth leader explained that the initiatives were not just for Protestants or Catholics, but that they are all united in the efforts to develop their community. “We are not separate,” he clarified, “We are one.”
When the SeaCoast team and community members were not planting trees, they were getting to know one another through sharing meals and conversation. There was also time for fellowship with the community through home visits, visits to the local public school, and community sports games. SeaCoast Grace has truly been walking alongside the pastors in this region over the years, as they have engaged in many efforts to transform their communities. The impact they have had in the region would not have been possible without their ongoing relationship with the pastors and community members and their sustained commitment to support and pray for this region. This year, the SeaCoast Grace team won the community soccer game that was played (with the help of some talented locals), and it is because of the church’s ongoing commitment that community members could declare with confidence that a “re-match” will be played next year.
Click here to see a photo gallery of the trip.
In the past two months, multiple U.S. churches have come to partner with the work of local churches and communities in rural El Salvador. Please take a moment to view photos of this wonderful collaboration.
Due to a severe wind storm in January 2008, many houses in the western part of El Salvador lost part or all of their roofs.
The churches in San Jose El Naranjo, Los Laureles, El Paraiso and San Antonio sought a way to provide help. The San Jose church, which has partnered with ENLACE the later 90’s lead the way in resolving the problem. They also saw this moment as an opportunity to walk alongside the churches working more recently with ENLACE, helping them to indentify the families most affected by the storm and work together with their community to resolve the situation.
After soliciting corrugated roofing material from ENLACE, the churches organized work teams from a variety of sources within their communities—including community associations, general volunteers and church volunteers. Together they installed 140 new roofs, providing 980 people with shelter.
The timing couldn’t be better. The first major tropical storm depression of the season brought five days of consistent rainfall two weeks after the roof installations were completed. Additionally, because of the way in which the churches walked with their communities to solve the problems they were facing, the project not only ended up filling a specific need but also strengthened the links of friendship between the churches and their communities.
When the First Assembly Fort Wayne team of young adults were planning their trip to San Jose El Naranjo, a small hamlet north of San Salvador , the ir goals were simple. Team leader Laurie Atz shared, “We wanted to be open to whatever God wanted to do ; t o build relationships with people and show God ’ s love.” And indeed the team showed up in El Salvador ready to help however they could. They were even able to keep smiles on their faces when the ENLACE staff announced that they would be helping dig the hole for a pit latrine. (We know it doesn’t sound great, but pit latrines do a lot to increase overall sanitation and health in a community. Statistically, along with clean water and preventive education, pit latrines can help reduce the infant mortality rate by 50%.)
The Fort Wayne team accepted the project and attacked the hard, sunburnt earth with spirit, energy and even joy. Throughout the week the team was able to maintain an amazing attitude . T hey even had energy afterward to play with local kids and ended the week with a special presentation for the kids about God’s love. Their presentation included a hip hop dance routine, about a zillion balloon animals and two piñatas. Team member, Bethany Till, shared where her joy came from, “God is so big and awesome and everything He leads us to do He walks with us and gives us strength and courage to do—whether it ' s digging a hole, sharing a word or singing a song. He is right beside us, encouraging us and stretching us and teaching us to use the gifts He has given us!”
At ENLACE, we are always touched by how much God can do when people show up with truly humble hearts fil l ed with God’s love. In everything this team did they glowed with the joy of Christ. We know their time blessed and encouraged the people of San Jose El Naranjo—and that hole will be a daily reminder of a group of happy gringos that came and dug in Jesus’ name.
To view a video about other ongoing projects in the same community, see this video on a vocational training workshop in San Jose El Naranjo.
In the February heat, over 100 men and women gathered under a large tree in what shade they could find, fanning their faces as they listened to words from local Pastor, Geovanni Rivas. This was the first church and community meeting in San Antonio, a hamlet located in the municipality of San Jose El Naranjo (SJEN). ENLACE has been working in this area for over 10 years. The hamlet is made up of hard-working families that live on less than $1500 per year, face water contamination issues and have limited access to good housing, food and basic healthcare. The leaders at San Antonio Church asked the community to help brainstorm and identify opportunities that most needed attention. The community really responded to the invitation! As is often the case, access to water and “revamping the current water system” was the primary concern but latrine construction, housing and medical clinic visits were all also present on the wish list as together the church and community dreamed of possibilities.
This first terrific response to a church-called community meeting—in which over half of the families in the community were represented—encourages us to anticipate great things to come. Although San Antonio is a new partner, this meeting came as a fruit of a relationship between Pastor Marcos Melara of the Jersalem church located in SJEN proper and San Antonio 's pastor, Geovanni Rivas. After Pastor Geovanni’s church saw what was happening through Marcos’ church—health improvements, housing iniatives, increased community unity, etc.—he and his leadership desired that same work of the Spirit in their community. When the opportunity came, Pastor Geovanni and his church leaders jumped at the chance to begin working with ENLACE within their own hamlet.
ENLACE believes that the excellent turn-out of this first church and community meeting marks an exciting moment for the community of San Antonio and indicates that the local church has already done a lot of groundwork. Please join us in praying for the communities in San Jose El Naranjo, the San Antonio Church, Pastor Rivas and the ENLACE staff working in the community. We are excited to see what God will do in and through them in the years to come.
A group from Faith Chapel Church in San Diego, California visited El Salvador in late February. The group partnered with the Jerusalem church and community leaders in the construction of two homes. Last year, the group's visit marked the beginning of the housing project in the San Jose El Naranjo area. The group was very happy to learn that the church and community collaborated with ENLACE to build a total of 10 houses in 2006. They were even more thrilled to learn that local mayor's office has now stepped up and will be offering 22 homes for the neediest families in the area in addition to the church and community's 10 homes planned for 2007. It is amazing to see how a little initiative can cause a ripple of collaboration and hard work.
In addition to building homes, two dentists were also a part of the group. With their help, the local health unit in San Jose El Naranjo coordinated visits to surrounding clinics and added the services of a local dentist. The Jerusalem church offered volunteers to help register patients everyday. It was truly a collaborative effort of the local church, community and visiting church to bring dental care to over 90 people in just four days.
Click here to find out more about how short-term trips with ENLACE can have a long-term impact.
Kate Joslin, a friend from California, writes about San Jose El Naranjo
Leaving the hustle and bustle of San Salvador in the rearview mirror, our jeep bounced along roads to the rural town of San Jose El Naranjo. The sights were common for my companions but pigs roaming the streets and old men strolling with machetes in hand were not something I was accustomed to in California. During my two-week visit to El Salvador, I was blessed with the unique privilege of visiting a local church ENLACE has been building a relationship with and training for the past five years.
Upon arriving at the Jerusalem Church, sparks flew as many teenagers welded iron bars together. Pastor Marco Antonio Melara informed me these teenagers were part of a vocational training program launched in November 2006. With twenty-seven local students enrolled, I assumed this was one of the many projects ENLACE helped organize. How surprised I was to learn that ENLACE had no direct role in the initiative, but that the Jerusalem Church had designed it on their own. Resources were pulled from within the church and contact was even made for government funding through the Mayor’s office and Ministry of Education. Instructor Elio Adonai Moran Lopez explained the reason for his involvement with the students, “I’m doing all that I can so that later they can fend for themselves.” This training program, complete with a certificate of completion, will help young men learn a skill they may potentially use in the workforce.
The ENLACE workers and I were greatly encouraged to see the Jerusalem Church reaching out to their local community. Pastor Marco explained, “as a church we have the responsibility and a mandate from God to help people however we can.” I felt very fortunate to be able to witness firsthand the fruit of ENLACE’s ministry. This church was applying the training provided by Enlace to serve their community in new ways.
As we left San Jose El Naranjo my thoughts drifted back to the buzz of the welding torch. The love the Jerusalem Church displayed toward those in their community was clearly evident. These were believers in the same God I worshipped and yet they were doing so much with the little they had. I was greatly challenged to serve those around me in California with the same unselfish and focused commitment. As a Christian, I say I believe a lot of things. But if my life is not radically different because of God’s transforming grace, then what do I really believe? My actions either confirm or deny the words that come out of my mouth.
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” Matthew 25:44-45
check out a video testimonial of the project: