Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois sent their final serving team of 2012 to San Jacinto in the Santa Ana Region. The dedicated six-member team joined Zurisadai Church, helping with a water project and ministering to the people of the community as well. Team member Joy Bork said, "This experience really helped me see how the local church is the hope of the world. Through pairing together with ENLACE and Zurisadai, I was able to be a tangible representation of Christ's hands and feet in the community of San Jacinto."
Entries in Willow Creek Community Church (7)
A second group from Willow Creek Crystal Lake came to support and encourage Pastor Francisco Mendoza and The Arca de Dios Church in El Ranchador. The team continued the work started by a group of students from their church in March, assisting the community with the construction of a new medical clinic which will serve 5,000 people. They also visited the nearby Compassion International site sharing a Bible story, songs, and other activities. The week was filled with joy and friendship as the transformation continues in El Ranchador.
As part of their ongoing partnership in the Santa Ana Region, Willow Creek South Barrington sent a team to serve in La Bendición for the first time. The team worked alongside Cristo Vive Church to build eight eco-stoves which will provide a healthier home environment and reduce expenses for many impoverished families. During the week, the five team members also visited homes identified by the church as most needy bringing food and having a special time of prayer and encouragement. The team’s enthusiasm, friendship and hard work motivated the local church and its members to press on and continue to preach the gospel, not merely with words but through action and service.
A team from Willow Creek Chicago traveled to rural western El Salvador to serve with Puerta del Cielo Church in El Progreso for the second time. Despite a recent transition in leadership, Pastor Orlando Majano has only been there two months, the relationship between the churches remained strong. The team helped repair the main road in the community and brought great joy to the people of El Progreso
During the month of May, Willow Creek Community Church Senior Pastor, Bill Hybels, sat with eight Salvadoran pastors partnering with ENLACE in San Salvador. Their excitement was palpable because after reading Pastor Hybels’ books and hearing him speak at the Global Leadership Summit over the past two years, they had the opportunity to share their stories and experiences with him over lunch. Willow Creek Community Church has been a part of ENLACE’s Church Partnership Program for three years. Throughout that time Willow Creek has worked with 12 churches and communities in the Santa Ana region.
After lunch, these pastors joined other pastors, church leaders and some ENLACE staff at a seminar. Pastor Hybels answered questions about leadership, covering such topics as how to cast a vision, hiring the right people for your staff, and the importance of growing as a leader. Hybels said, “Don’t expect someone else to make you better. It’s not someone else’s job to develop you; it’s your job to develop you.”
The event was sponsored by the Willow Creek Association which has as its mission “to inspire and equip Christian leaders to lead transformation-minded churches.” Each year the Association’s biggest event, The Global Leadership Summit, invites a world-class faculty, from various fields, to speak for two days. Hybels says, “We give big challenges to big leaders to change this big broken world.” Since 2011, ENLACE has helped host the event in El Salvador. This year, approximately 150,000 people are expected to attend the Summit worldwide.
For Mauricio Rodolfo Reyes, Pastor of Cristo Vive Church in the Santa Ana region, the event was deeply inspiring. He recounted a story of a musician who met U2 and the musician’s excitement and awe of meeting such a legend. Pastor Rodolfo called meeting Pastor Hybels his “U2 moment.”
Both Willow Creek Association and ENLACE strongly believe in equipping and training pastors and leaders. Pastor Hybels said, “I love this country and everytime I come here, there’s a little part of me that gets ignited.”
ENLACE Missionary-Volunteer Melissa Mefford was recently featured on Willow Creek Community Church's Compassion and Justice blog:
"It is the smallest country in Central America—riddled with poverty and environmental degradation. A place where rocks and sticks hold the roofs of houses together and when it rains, the roof blows off and water fills the home— where people travel miles to reach a local river in search of water for their family— a place where many families live on less than $2 a day.
But it is also a place where the spirits of people are strong and where faith is continuing to grow. It is the country of El Salvador— the place where 24-year-old Melissa Mefford has been called by God to serve the local churches and community..."
A group of high school students from Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL, came to El Salvador to spend their Spring Break serving with Zurisadai Church in San Jacinto. They helped build a storm drain to prevent dangerous flooding during the rainy season and painted a recently constructed water tank. The team also enjoyed eating mango everyday, playing with kids, and visiting the homes that returning members helped to build last year. The team continued building the relationships from last year and formed new friendships as well.