Opening the gates in El Salvador
Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in (Psalm 24:7).
Western Officers Captains Francisco and Irma Flores are directors of the El Alba Children’s Home on the coast of El Salvador. They share with us their ministry both at the children’s home and in the community.
There are two separate gates that one must enter to finally reach the actual children’s home, and we can be our own little world back here away from the road. There are eight kids who live at the children’s home, ranging from 6-12 years old. Some may say, “only eight kids”, but some days we praise God for the strength just to minister to only these eight kids! We have been entrusted with more than just these kids, though—we also recognize that we are called as fellow workers with God to reconcile all things to him. We seek daily to be salt and light all through our small community, to every child, man and woman that we meet.
The boys spend many afternoons playing soccer in our field, and are joined on most of these days by boys from the nearby tiny village of San Lorenzo. God brought these children right to our doorstep. We are slowly learning of the reality of poverty right outside the very gates that before seemed to close us off. Many of these children eat only once a day and have no meat in their diets whatsoever because it is too expensive for the meager incomes of their families. In the last few months, we have invited them to two different dinners. The first provided them with a good meal and a fun movie. The kids packed into the living room, and we projected the movie on the wall. They were captivated. Then, the week after Thanksgiving, we had our own Thanksgiving here. Again we invited the children from San Lorenzo, and over 20 showed up, hungry and excited. We served turkey, real mashed potatoes and gravy, bread, and even some pumpkin pie. We again showed a movie that enthralled many of the kids. In December we threw a big Christmas party for the community, and over 75 people came. Donors from El Salvador and churches from the United States sent money and food for our dinner.
Steadily each week our numbers rise for the Sunday service. Three of the older boys made a decision to follow Christ during a service in December, and we were ecstatic. We eagerly look forward to the future, to more decisions and, even more importantly, many opportunities to disciple these kids and ground them in the faith that will change their lives. It started with soccer, with prayer after each game, and before our very eyes God is bringing children right to, and through, our gates.
We dream big dreams for these kids, not only the eight who live at El Alba, but also for each child who lives on the other side of those gates as well. We look forward to a day when we will be able to feed all the kids in this community at least one meal each day. We dream of building a garage where the kids will learn to work with cars, a skill they can take with them when they leave. Many months we wonder if we will have enough money for the basic necessities, but we have already seen bigger miracles so we let ourselves dream and wait in expectation. We give all our anxieties to God and continue to be faithful each day to all the children of this beautiful country that God has entrusted to us.
As we serve God moment by moment in this place, we see that the gates are opened and the King of glory indeed has come in. In the face of every child we see our King, and we hear him saying, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”.
Please pray for the work here and our efforts as we share our story with others, and pray that God will bring people to partner with who would bless us with money and other resources to grow the ministry here.
Donations to support the work in El Salvador may be made online at www.usw.salvationarmy.org or sent to The Salvation Army Officer Services, 12th Floor, 180 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA, 90802.