This month in homes around the globe, families are decorating and lighting their Christmas trees. In fact, "trimming the tree" is often its own ritual, one that merits a dedicated time in which family and friends gather to pile on ornaments and lights, popcorn and cranberry bunting, and thinly ribboned "icicles."
If you are partial to a real tree, you know how important it is to find one that is fresh and healthy. Dry and sparsely branched trees are not only fire hazards but aren't ideal when wanting to showcase beautiful and plentiful decorations. The best trees, the ones that can hold up throughout the holidays and into the new year, are those sturdy ones that had been deeply rooted and nourished.
This is a great metaphor for what we have seen in our work. As ENLACE approaches its 25th anniversary, we've had the privilege of being a part of something amazing. Over and over again, we've seen that once local church members take on their role as servant leaders, the before and after contrast in their communities, is breathtaking.
The impoverished community is like a sickly tree. The roots are stymied and damaged, leading to trunk that doesn't fulfill its purpose as a connector and so cannot bring the branches proper nourishment. The branches become dry and if there are leaves they are dry and withered. However, a transformed community is a tree with healthy roots that bring nourishment that is transported efficiently to the branches and leaves. Healthy leaves in turn bring more nourishment back to the tree, helping to sustain growth.
Starting at the ROOTS: Reconciliation
All of ENLACE’s work is based on the belief that the root of poverty is broken relationships. Therefore, the Church and Community Program is our core program and is centered on helping the local church to become an active and effective agent within its community; a church that seeks to reconcile relationships between each other, between neighbors, between local institutions and with God. ENLACE coaches church leaders alongside their neighbors to design initiatives that address some of the most challenging issues facing a community. These initiatives (such as home gardens and agriculture coops, infrastructure like housing and schools, or waste management and water systems) become mechanisms for people to encounter Christ in tangible ways as they serve one another. For more details click here. http://www.enlace.link/about/church-and-community-program/
Fortifying the TRUNK: Organization and Mobilization
ENLACE commits to a 10 year relationship with a local church and equips church and community leaders to become effective agents of change. ENLACE helps churches to listen to their communities and then respond effectively to opportunities for developing sustainable solutions to poverty that are community-led and community-specific.
Growing BRANCHES and LEAVES: Flourishing and Replicating
There are eight transformation outcomes that grow from these projects, such as eradicating hunger and extreme poverty; increasing access to education; improving infant and maternal health, etc. ENLACE tracks these outcomes in every community. Along with these outcomes, ENLACE’s long-term goal is that churches become “Leader Churches” which encourage and equip surrounding churches in the same process so that their successes are replicated throughout their regions.
When you give to ENLACE, you are not only partnering in a long-term effort of turning impoverished communities into healthy ones, but providing the tools and capacity for ongoing and replicable transformation. ENLACE is witnessing this happen all over El Salvador and beginning to see these fruits in Nepal and Guatemala.
Imagine forests of healthy trees shining brightly with the light of God's love. Indeed that's a Christmas tree around which we all would love to gather.