Fall 2017 Newsletter
“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”
Greetings to you in the name of our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus)! At this time of year, we celebrate our anniversary and the commitment of sixteen years working with families in El Salvador. 2017 was a busy year, and the adventure will continue in 2018. We believe this project is making a difference in many students’ future, and the number of high school graduates has grown to forty since the School Sponsorship
Program began in 2002. We want to acknowledge and thank the local pastors of Iglesia Cristiana Cristo Centro, Francis and Zulma Batarsé, and Luis and Susy Paz for their leadership and oversight. Our life verse is from Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” We thank God, who has blessed us and those we serve with good fruit that remains – and all for the glory of His name!
If you are not familiar with the School Sponsorship Program, it is designed to help low-income families afford a high school education for their children. A good, solid Christian education is not readily available to all. It is costly – registration, tuition, uniforms, books, even final exam “rights.” The two pastors choose the students in need from their congregations, and we here in the U.S. seek a family to sponsor each student. They receive their registration, monthly tuition, school supplies, a monthly canasta básica (food basket), and vitamins. Good attendance and participation in congregational activities are a must, as well as periodic report cards, and letters to their sponsors. Regular home visits give us the chance to follow up on progress and pray for the family.
“We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God ”
This school year twenty students were sponsored in the CARP Project, and included were five new children:
From Sonsonate, Camila Cerén, Ashley Menjívar, and Benjamín Ramos; from Agua Santa, Vanessa Escobar; and from San Salvador, Nalani Ramírez. Most of these children transferred from public to private elementary schools; and although the transition and new school are more demanding, this year they have had much success. Their curriculum also includes English and computer skills. Looking ahead to 2018, we hope to add at least three more students.
In April we attended the college graduation of José Luis Juárez in Sonsonate. From modest beginnings, with the help of the CARP Project, José Luis finished a technical degree in hospitality and tourism. This December marks the high school graduation of three students: Alfredo Aquino, Walter Ascencio, and David López. All of them plan to continue in the university (marketing, aeronautical mechanics, and public accounting, respectively). We are thankful to God for supplying the needs of these students, and we pray there will be jobs for them when they graduate.
CHURCH BUILDING PROJECT COMPLETE
For much of our travels, the Cristo Centro Agua Santa affiliate has been a building made of tree poles and a tin roof. In 2004 it was open to the air, and only within the last few years have the sides been protected with sheets of tin. When it rained, the floor would flood, and the humble sound system would get wet and short circuit. Pastor Luis Paz is fond of building projects, and so in 2013-14 he and an architect drew up plans to renovate this church. In August 2014, we saw the beginnings of the church’s metamorphosis. Thanks to friends and sponsors here, CARP donated the cement blocks for the new wall built around the old building. This became the expanded footprint for the new church.
By May of 2015, the main shell of the church was complete. Pastor Luis García, an accomplished bricklayer, and was up high on a scaffold, working on the façade. The church was expanded; and outside there was a separate enclosure for food preparation and cooking, a parking lot, and two well-lit bathrooms, one with a shower. The dedicated members of the congregation worked steadily for two more years, and CARP helped to fund some of the finishing details (lighting structure and smoothing the floor for tile). In this time period, Pastor Lupita Martínez from Sonsonate was set in to lead this flock.
Finally in April 2017, the day of dedication arrived. Traveling with the Batarsé family from San Salvador, we maneuvered our way through densely-wooded, narrow roads edged with fields of sugar cane and corn. Once at the church, Pastor Lupita’s sister, some other instructors, and youth were preparing to teach Sunday school. They set up thirty brightly-colored chairs in the street opposite the church, and the children began arriving in their Sunday best. The teachers told me that many of them are abandoned and live with an aunt or grandmother. The area is predominantly Catholic, and it has been difficult to evangelize the adults; however, the Spirit of God, the activity around the church, and the love and concern of the teachers have attracted about forty children. Soon the chairs were filled, and the lesson began. The kids were animated, shouting out Bible verses, clapping, singing, standing up, sitting down, lining up, and moving around for the various games and competitions. There were prizes for those who participated. The celebration was complete with piñatas, candy and games for all. It is essential to continue this work to reach out to the neighboring kids, so please pray they would all become students of the Word and followers of Jesus.
The church was sparkling and decorated with balloons, flowers, and a sign at the altar: “Bienvenida Familia” (Welcome Family). Cristo Centro in San Salvador donated chairs, and about 200 people filled the sanctuary. Pastor Francis gave a message about the purpose of the church: A place to worship and congregate in God’s presence; a place to learn His Word, and where He hears our confessions and petitions for forgiveness of our brethren – a place to reconcile with God. We are all united by the place where we worship, and we should never stop learning about Him. We pray that the congregation would be a beacon to the surrounding area. Yeshua said, “…and I, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Me” (John 12:32).
The beginnings of the block wall around the church, 2014.
The beginnings of the block wall around the church, 2014.
Pastor Luis García works on the façade of the church, 5.15
Pastor Lupita Martínez in front of the church, 4.17
Children having Bible lessons.
NEIGHBORHOOD CLEANUP AND REHABILITATION
Good things are happening at Cristo Centro San Salvador! Around the corner from the church is a run-down neighborhood called Tuntunichapa that is home to many families, restaurants and pupuserías. The sidewalks are narrow, the streets are dark and dirty, and most of the apartments face out on steep stairs that descend to the river. Outside perception of this area is one of violence, a place where only drug dealers, gangs, and thieves live; and that it is also inhabited by people with nothing to do.
For the next six months, the congregation is embarking on “My Community My Space,” a plan that aims to change this perception. With some painting, installation of proper signs and lights on the stairs and passageways, the children and students will have a safe place to play and study. They also want to rescue the green zones and create a space for community diversion, such as a cycling path and an area to play soccer. A later phase will include talks on mental and physical health and business development.
Pastor Francis is the point person for this work; and at present, some congregants have joined elbows with the neighbors and committed their time and effort. This preliminary process is designed to empower the members of the community and give them a sense of ownership and pride. As in the book of Nehemiah, workers were called by families to rebuild the temple wall, and each had a place in the restoration. God equips us with skills to do the work, and fruit will come from this investment. We are excited to see the transformation!
“My Community My Space” planning committee: Ricardo, Argentina, Fátima, Diego, Pastor Salomón, Marina, Ivonne, Lourdes, Wendy, Eduardo, Francisco, 10.17.
CARP’s Continuing Work
The Bible says that the poor are always with us, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore them! We are called to have a part in touching lives laid waste by corruption and sin, comforting the sorrowful, and building up the broken. Poverty leaves personal damage to the psyche, scars in lives, shame in faces. The CARP ministry is persistent – established, perseverant, stable, unwavering – and we have learned to get down in the ditches with those who hurt, patiently identify with their need or problem, and seek their good. With the Lord’s love, we have a gift for others that helps build up their God-given talents, become more creative, independent, and self-sufficient. At times sowing is accompanied by tears and sorrow, but “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6). We don’t lose hope, knowing that He is in control of all situations. God’s healing presence brings the harvest!
Our deep thanks go to God for His faithful supply to this ministry. We are grateful for local collections from Frederick Country Day Montessori (shoes), and the Service Club at Thurmont Elementary (hygiene articles, letters, and shoes). We always welcome vitamins for the kidney patients at Benjamin Bloom Children’s Hospital. Gifts to the CARP general fund are used for many of the children’s practical needs. Please contact us if you would like to go on a trip or sponsor a student. We thank God for this amazing opportunity to do good. Recently, a friend reminded us of a quote by John Wesley: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long ever you can.
We wish you joy and peace at year end and throughout 2018 as you press on with perseverance to the high calling as disciples of Yeshua. Be confident in this: The Lord says He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Amen!
God bless you all,
Pastors & CARP
Pastors Francis and Zulma Batarsé, Luke Robinson, and Ginger
attended the wedding of Carlos and Ely Alvarado in December 2016