Even before I left for training, I got sent a video about the organization we were going to be working with while in El Salvador. After the seven minute video, I fell in love with the ministry. This ministry is called Project RED, which was formed in 2011 due to the new law that took place in El Salvador. The new law said that all children living in an orphanage had to go back to live with their families. The government thought they were doing everybody a favor by enforcing this law, but the poor family conditions were what sent these kids to the orphanage in the first place, and now they were being sent back to their horrible and heartbreaking living conditions. This is where Project RED comes in. RED stand for reintegration, education, and development, meaning that their ultimate goal is to make the broken families self-sufficient, but dependent on the Lord.
Through trained counselors and therapists, and most importantly the Lord, they do their best to help the families adjust to being put back together again. There was one family that we were told about, where the mom literally hated her children and did not want them back. These were the type of families that Project RED worked with. Families that were broken and seemed to be beyond repair. Their are families that are fatherless, a 12-year old has been sexually abused and has a child, and the youngest children have skin diseases and their property is on a piles of trash buried in the ground. These are the families the Project RED works with. But, theses families aren’t beyond repair. God takes what is broken and makes it beautiful. He takes situations that seem hopeless and changes them and transforms them into something so unrecognizable, that the only explanation in the Lord.
The next step in Project RED in education. Through the provision of the Lord, they seek to find ways to make sure that these children, who were receiving an education while in the orphanages, still receive an education even after they are back living with their families, which is something very uncommon and very hard to make happen because a lot of these families just simply do not have the funds to send their children to school, or some just do not want them to go to school. So, Project RED seeks to provide the needs to make sure these children still have an opportunity to continue on in their education. They provide bus fairs, school supplies, and on some special occasions, receive the funds that make it possible for some children to go to the best school in town. Which, on the outside, seems impossible, but nothing is impossible with the Lord.
This is probably one of my favorite parts about this ministry– self-sufficiency. The heart of Project RED is to create these families to be self-sustaining, not dependent on Project RED. Yes, Project RED provides them with a few things like toiletries, food, and clothes once a month, but they are slowly weaning them off their dependencies and are teaching them how to provide for their families on their own. Families, specifically parents, are even provided with the opportunity to take classes on things like gardening for example, where they can learn how to grow their own fruits and vegetables, which allows them to provide food for their family. This is just a microcosm of what is going on inside of Project RED itself, and what my heart is in general for all nations.Families serving their own families, and El Salvadorians serving El Salvadorians, countries serving their own countries and leading them towards Christ.
My heart for the nations, and Christians in their own cultures and countries, is for them to serve their own people because I think that is where the biggest change is going to happen. For instance, who do you think a Ugandan man would respond to more openly…and skinny white boy, or another Ugandan man? Exactly. I love the idea of people serving their own people, and I feel like it is easier for someone of the same culture to share the Gospel and disciple someone, rather than having a foreigner do the same task. I think this is what the Lord has intended as well. Now, don’t get me wrong. Missionaries are necessary, and we are called to go to the ends of the earth, but a culture that is run and flooded by foreigners is not ideal. How awesome would it be for the people of India to serve their own people and share the Gospel according to their own culture? How much more responsive would they be? Or how incredible would it be for the Chinese to be discipling the Chinese? I think the Lord would undoubtedly be delighted.
In Luke 20: 38 Jesus says: “Now He is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to Him.” Satan has a strong grip on El Salvador. There is so much violence, danger, fear, hurt, and hate that is present, but what is even more present is how evidently and clearly the Lord is moving in El Salvador. The Lord has made of His plan of redemption know through the power of the cross, and I feel like this plan has been revealed to El Salvador and has been changing the country itself from the inside out. We have seen entire families restored and full of contagious joy and laughter. It is obvious that these people are grateful for project RED, but it is also clear that they are truly humbled be the fact that the Lord would look upon them with such grace and favor. They have understood that they have received everything they have because of the Lord and that they seek to please them with all their hearts. Change is everywhere in El Salvador. When we were sitting at the gate waiting to board our plane to come home, there was a full blown worship concert playing on the TVs! Are you kidding me? God is bringing His plan of salvation and redemption for the entire country to fruition slowly but surely. It may not be fast, or in the time we want to see it, but it is happening, so praise God. He is God of the living. He, Himself is living and active, and moving. He is real and surely alive.