Jerusalem Family Center
May 2014 Update
In the small coastal community of Jaramijó, the Jerusalem Family Center has been making a great impact since it opened its doors and its Compassion Child Sponsorship and Child Survival Programs almost three years ago. The church and its programs have not only brought physical and economic changes to the people but also emotional and spiritual development.
Pastor Felix Salcedo has been leading the Jerusalem Family Center since its inauguration in 2011. At the time that they began working in the community, the people had a complete lack of knowledge of the Word of God and of Jesus and of hope in Christ. Many of the parents have very little schooling and are illiterate. But thanks to the work God is doing through Pastor Felix, the church and the Compassion programs, the people have continued to advance and to grow spiritually, morally and also as families. Pastor Felix recalls, “The people here are devoted to fishing, and much of the time the fathers will leave for one, two or three months at a time to fish, and what we saw when we arrived in this community is that many times they would come back just as they left, with empty hands, and there was much malnutrition in the children. When they did come back with earnings, that money would often be spent in the bars, on alcohol, and the mothers and the children would suffer. We would see so much pain in the moms and kids. But now, thanks to God, we have seen that the families have begun to recover their dignity, their worth. There are now more restored families who understand how to love and protect one another, who have an understanding of values and of the worth of the family. They now understand that the family is a sacred institution.”
The Child Survival Program (CSP) has also been a great resource for the mothers of young children in the community. Many of the women who are now the most faithful in the church and becoming leaders are mothers from the CSP. In addition to spiritual growth and advancement, the program has taught the mothers a number of skills that they can employ to earn money to help support their families, and these skills can be put to use from the home so that it is no longer necessary for the mothers to leave their children unattended for 10-12 hours per day. One of the current skills that mothers are learning is jewelry-making. As it is cultural for the women to adorn themselves with necklaces, rings, earrings, and bracelets, some of the mothers have already been quite successful selling their handiwork.
One of the dreams of the pastor and project staff is to see the children from the project become the future leaders of the church and project in Jaramijó as well as in other places. They want to see examples of the cycle completed, just as they have seen with their own project director, Karin, who was a sponsored child in an older project that was also pastored by Felix. They know what difference it makes to have leaders who have come from the same place and walked in the same shoes as the children in the program, and they hope to one day see the project run completely by children who have graduated from the program and have the desire to impact and change their community. Other dreams of the church and project are to start a praise and worship ministry with the children and youth from the church and project, giving them music lessons and starting a praise band with the children. And they also dream of the day when they are self-sustaining enough to begin providing food and clothes to people from the community who are a part of the church but not the Compassion programs. Currently, only the families linked to the Compassion programs receive the economic benefits associated with the programs, but they hope that one day they will be able to provide such aid to other families in the community as well. A challenge faced by the church in Jaramijó is finding a way to interest and bring in the men in the community. In Jaramijó and in much of the country, there is much machismo, and in church culture, that means that there is an attitude that church and religion is only for the women and the children. For this reason, more than 90% of adults who attend the church are women.
Update on Rosa (Rosita) del Hierro: Since being diagnosed with cancer a year ago, the road for Rosa has been a very difficult one. After completing only a portion of her chemotherapy, the doctors decided that her body could not tolerate the remainder of the treatments. Complications from other medications left her without memory or rational thought processes. There were multiple occasions when family and doctors alike thought they were going to lose her. But God is faithful and a healer, and Sister Rosa is almost back at 100% and is already back to work visiting the projects and listening as God leads her to the next plant sites.
- That the prayers lifted up by our brothers and sisters of Stadia would never cease because we know that their prayers go to break every barrier, every obstacle, everything that impedes the families here from knowing Christ.
- That the chains of alcoholism that bind the people of this community would be broken.
- That God would give strength to the staff, to the project, to the children.
- That you would keep giving us love and hope and being an influence and teaching us. Because of your impact, we know that the children can be changed such that tomorrow they won’t just be other members of society, but instead, they’ll be leaders, the president, governors, architects, scientists, but above all, they will be Christians.
- That God would continue growing the project staff so that they will be great examples to the children.
- That the children would be the means by which God reaches their families and the rest of the community for Christ.
- Pray for the children, that they would continue growing in faith and that even though there are many obstacles in life, they would continue being faithful to God.
- Pray for the church, that every day those in the church would have their eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the foundation.