We arrived in our last country knowing we had only a week to serve and be with the missionaries and families we would be helping. It was a bit easier to push through and finish strong in this last country because of the true need El Salvador has for people to be the hands and feet of Christ. We worked with a grassroots organization called Project Red (projectredelsalvador.org) which grew out of the need for a holistic support approach of families in the country.
A new law was recently passed based off of UN legislation that closed virtually all orphanages in El Salvador and sent the children back home to live with their biological family. This is often to a broken, impoverished, abusive, dangerous situation for the child. The need then arose for help for families with physical, emotional and spiritual needs that were in no way being met by the government or even local church. Project Red came in with the vision of Reintegration, Education and Development that would allow these families to eventually stand on their own and have hope for their lives ahead. What a worthy cause in the name of Christ!
Our team spent time painting houses Red had built, ministering to and spending fun time with the families of Red, building chicken coops, putting together donor packets, and even cleaning up trash and planting a garden. The families were so helpful and thankful, clearly not taking us for granted but working alongside the labor we brought. The hardest day for most of us was the last day when we built the chicken coop (or at least as much as we could). There was lots of cement involved and some of us (mostly me and three other girls) may have gone a little crazy on top of our mountain of cement to be moved with only two sticks and a bucket. But let me tell you we destroyed that mountain. It was quite a feat.
But my favorite ministry job was the cleaning up of the yard and building of a garden for the Cerna family. Mrs. Cerna’s husband is in jail for impregnating her twelve year old daughter, and she also has four other small children to care for. They live in very impoverished conditions but are making progress through Project Red. When we arrived and started cleaning up the trash, we discovered just how deep the trash was into the ground; layer upon layer was unearthed and put in bags…about ten in all from a very small space. Dead tree limbs and baby dolls and broken rusty strollers and shoes and wrappers littered the yard underneath weeds and dirt and lots of ants. We worked hard to remove as much as we could, and when clean dirt remained, a garden was built and the family was given seeds and tools to harvest their own food and make the land productive instead of completely wasted. What joy it brought to them!
The whole time I was reminded of how this was a very tangible picture of what Christ did in my life and in the life of every believer. Ephesians 4:22 reminds us that we “were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.” Our old life is full of trash! Layers and layers of disgusting, useless trash. The longer we keep it, the more disgusting and hard-to-remove it gets. But y’all, Jesus is the ultimate trash-remover! He knows where each piece is and how to remove it if we only ask. And not only does he remove our old self, but He tells us to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (v. 24).
“The mind governed by the flesh [the old self] is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit [the new self] is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) Christ frees us from the fruit of sin and allows us to produce the fruit of the Spirit, and reap life and peace! How much better is that! “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). What a beautiful promise available to all who believe! I encourage you to confess the sin and trash in you life and allow Christ to both remove it and replace it with life in the Spirit!
Ephesians 5:8-11 sums this up well: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth, and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
Expose darkness; have nothing to do with your former self – we wouldn’t want the Cerna family to bring all the trash back into their garden! It wouldn’t produce the fruit it was meant to! Bear fruit for Him who bore your sin and death on the cross. He alone is worthy of your labor and worship.
I am so thankful for the redemption the Lord has provided for the Project Red families. I hope you realize that redemption is waiting for you too!
His Child of Light,
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:16