In January 2001 there was a devastating earthquake in El Salvador. After working in Panama for a number of years, the Mt. Juliet church was looking for a new place to work in Latin America. El Salvador seemed like a good place to work. So we had our first campaign to El Salvador in February, 2001. In the years since, we have conducted 16 medical/evangelistic campaigns and a number of strictly evangelistic campaigns.
In March of this year we helped establish a congregation of the Lord’s church in Apopa, a suburb of San Salvador with 350,000 residents. As far as we know this is the first New Testament church in this community. Our minister, Saul Flamenco, is a December, 2015, graduate of the School of Americas in Panama. He and his wife, Ana Lillian, were converted during a campaign to Tonacatepeque a few years ago and chose to go into ministry full-time. Their daughter and son-in-law are joining them in the work in Apopa. Below is a photo announcing the campaign.
The team from the US consisted of 43 people, 28 are members of Mt. Juliet, 6 from Center Chapel, 2 from Hendersonville, 2 from Nashville, 3 from other parts of Middle Tennessee and one each from Arkansas and Georgia. There were 11 first timers on the trip, nine of which were included in the 18 teens on the trip.
We were joined by workers from Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, and, of course, El Salvador. The team totaled over 100 workers.
The mayor of Apopa provided excellent support for the team. We had security at the campaign site provided by uniformed police officers all week. He provided Salvadoran specialty foods: pupusas for dinner one night and canoas for breakfast one day (Don’t worry parents, most of the young people and some of the older team members did not partake. I sacrificed for the team and ate both. They were really good!!). He provided a bus to take us sightseeing on our last day and served as our tour guide. This relationship will be important in the growth of the church going forward. Also, we were able to have spots on local TV and radio, announcing the campaign and delivering messages from God’s Word.
There were 6 baptisms during the campaign and we conducted 235 Bible studies during the week. The first baptism of the campaign was of Ricardo.
Ricardo was a homeless man who decided to come to the preaching session after seeing some advertising about the campaign. After studying with him he decided to put the Lord on in baptism. He was a lawyer who lost everything due to alcohol and drugs. We have high hopes he will turn his life around and remain faithful to the Word. He worked tirelessly during the campaign doing what he could to help, cleaning and picking up trash and anything he was asked to do. He also worked on the church building getting it ready for occupancy and attending services after the campaign. He certainly has a long way to go but is taking the right steps. We need to pray for Ricardo, the other 5 who were baptized, and the others who are studying the Word. Here is a picture of the church meeting place under construction:
The week of the campaign was considered Holy Week, Palm Sunday thru Easter. In Latin America it is celebrated in various ways, one of which is street alfobras (carpet or rug). These are street “paintings” of various types that are applied to streets, which are closed from Good Friday thru Easter. The media that is used is salt, which is dyed in various colors.
Upon arrival at the campaign site, a covered outdoor gym, there were hundreds of bags of salt weighing 75-100 lbs. lining one ¾ of one wall of the gym about chest high.
We had no idea what this was for until it was removed on Wednesday. Approximately 100 people came to pick up the bags and carry them out, one by one. They were delivered to various communities in the area of Apopa.
We left Apopa on Thursday night and thus didn’t see any of their artwork. However, on Friday we went to a town named Ataco to see the sights there. They were busy applying the salt, uncolored and dyed to the frames on the street. They use stencils to give them a guide for applying the colors. Quite pretty.
We now have 9 congregations in El Salvador
where we provide support:
Saul and Ana Lillian Flamenco in Apopa
Enrique and Isis Rodriquez in Tonacatepeque
Victor and Anna Maria Bonilla in San Salvador at the Alta Vista church and the church in Perulapan on the shore of Lake Ilopango
Oscar and Susanna Zelaya, parents of two other
ministers, in San Francisco Javier
Jeremias and Sulma Zelaya in Santa Elena and Tequera
Daniel and Carolina Zelaya in San Augustin
Carlos Mario and Lucia Hernandez at La Cruz
congregation in Usulután
Please pray for these Christians who are working hard to expand the Kingdom in El Salvador.
Respectively submitted by the 2016 El Salvador team,