Prayers over Plates: Week Two: El Salvador
PRAYERS OVER PLATES:
Join us in praying for Anjolenna in El Salvador
as we make “Desayuno Típico”
A bit of El Salvador’s story first ...
There is a certain inundation of churches in El Salvador. During the turbulent years of civil war in the 80s and 90s, Salvadorans flocked to churches, looking for hope and respite, something to assure them that they would emerge from this dark period. Over twenty years later, the effects of the Salvadoran civil war still linger in countless ways, including the attachment to church communities. At first glance, everyone seems to be a Christian here, and Christian language, images and ideas seem to be essential parts of the Salvadoran way of life. It would be impossible to walk down the any road in San Salvador and miss the myriad verses painted on walls, or the various bumper stickers with familiar biblical maxims.
But in this way, Salvadoran culture is something of a paradox.
When everyone is Christian, who is really Christian? If the cultural and societal current seems to be flowing towards God and the church, should believers still be swimming against it?
El Salvador has a global reputation for being a dark, and violent country, and even that description can be an understatement. Salvadorans live under a profound, yet normalized fear brought about by gang activity, domestic violence and systemic oppression.
For those who do ministry in this country, everything seems to be working against us, but we also have a lot going for us.
I remember when I first started working with La Fuente, an afterschool youth program, which is part of Envision El Salvador. Five days a week, my coworkers and I spend time praying with, teaching, tutoring and hanging out with our teenagers, as well as building relationships through sports ministries and one-on-one discipleship.
Day after day, The Lord amazed me with how eager our teens were to be at our ministry site, voraciously taking in the Gospel and being open to new relationships with my coworkers and me. It was clear that God was actively on the move in our ministry; yet before my very eyes the enemy had his own ways of stifling Kingdom work.
While it is true that our teens want to spend time with us, they also just don't want to go home. The enemy has so profoundly infiltrated their homes, families and communities that these places, which for much of the world are havens of comfort and warmth, have turned into founts of fear and hostility. Do our kids come for the escape, stay for the good time, and allow us to serve them a sprinkling of the Gospel as a side dish?
My pastor shared with me that along the same lines, churchgoers enthusiastically congregate at their local church, shaking hands and exchanging "Dios le bendiga" with every hermano and hermana in Christ. However, with such a multiplicity of options, Sunday morning services can turn into a cultural routine, rather than a time of intentionally gathering as the Body of Christ. Pastors know this and strive daily to foster biblical and authentic communities of believers.
I'd like to share a recipe for one of my favorite meals here. I think it elegantly captures the beauty of Salvadoran culture, as it can be eaten for breakfast or lunch, adapted to your tastes and the number of people you're planning on feeding. This recipe is for four people.
Please pray for the young people of this country, whose youth and childhoods are being robbe from them. While it is true that the teens in our ministry want to spend time with us, they also don’t want to go home. The enemy has so profoundly infiltrated their homes, families and communities that these places, which for much of the world are havens of comfort and warmth, have turned into founts of fear and hostility.
Please pray for local churches, who tirelessly labor for the Kingdom despite periods of stagnance and little growth. My pastor shared with me that in general, churchgoers enthusiastically congregate at church on Sundays, shaking hands and exchanging “Dios le bendiga”; with every hermano and hermana in Christ. However, with such a multiplicity of options, Sunday morning services can turn into a cultural routine, rather than a time of intentionally gathering as the Body of Christ. Pastors know this and strive daily to foster biblical and authentic communities of believers.
A common prayer amongst Salvadorans is that God would protect their families, for obvious reasons. We ask you to pray for not just safety, but salvation. Pray that God would make a way for the realness of His truth to penetrate the hearts of Salvadorans, that it would correct and redeem the parts of culture that take on His name in vain and that it would free the people from the lie of the enemy that being merely a cultural Christian is as freeing as accepting Christ fully.
We finally ask you to pray for steadfastness in missionaries here. Each day is a battle against the violence and brokenness in the communities we serve, and we turn to the Lord for strength, renewal, and perseverance.