A group of 12, students and adults, from Penn Forest Worship Center (3735 Chaparral Drive, Roanoke) chose to spend their Thanksgiving serving others in El Salvador rather than eating turkey or watching football.
In August of 2011, they took a group of 5 individuals to El Salvador to work with the Wesleyan Church. While there, they visited an area of El Salvador called Cojutepeque, a settlement of around 3,000 displaced El Salvadorians living within cinder block walls without roofs or clean drinking water. After they visited and conducted a medical clinic, they assisted in purchasing some property that would later become the land on which a church would be built. They came home and raised funds to help build the church, which is now running around 100 people, and to bring clean drinking water into the community. Shortly after returning home they began planning and preparing for their next trip.
On November 23rd the group of 12 headed down to El Salvador. They took with them several suitcases filled with medicines, shoes, clothes, and supplies for doing a Bible School with children. While they were there: nearly 300 people came to the medical clinics, over 150 people came to the Bible Schools, over 100 pairs of shoes were given out, and 20 homes were painted in the areas of Cojutepeque and La Cima.
There were several notable events that took place on the mission trip. El Salvador is a third world country and gangs and extortion are a common problem. While painting houses, gang members joined in to help paint. They ended up painting one of the homes of a rival gang member which led to walls being broken down (not literally) and hopefully the beginning of friendships. We also had gang members come to the medical clinics and their children were allowed to participate in the Bible Schools which hadn’t happened before. We saw a lot of smiles in the midst of oppression.
It was an amazing trip and so encouraging being able to rekindle the friendships that were started two years ago. PFWC plans to continue their partnership with El Salvador in making a difference both spiritually and physically. They are currently helping the church in Cojutepeque finish the church building that has been started. They were able to purchase a generator for them to use at the church. They are also partnering with them in their celebration of Christmas. There were over 70 dresses that were made by some of the ladies of PFWC and these will be given out to the children during their Christmas celebrations. PFWC is also helping the church financially with a Christmas party for the community.
If you would like to be a part of making a difference in El Salvador, you too can give by sending a check to Penn Forest Worship Center, 3735 Chaparral Drive, Roanoke, VA 24018, and in the memo write “Operation Outreach” or by giving online at www.pfwc.net. Under online giving, choose the Operation Outreach button. For more information on what we are doing to make a difference in El Salvador as well as here at home, you may call the church at 540-772-9482. We would be happy to talk to you!!
Submitted by Pastor Myron D. Atkinson