Have you had a moment when you stop and realize that you just experienced something significant? For me, that moment is now as I reflect on ENLACE’s Vision 2020 Gala. Last month partners, friends, staff, and board directors gathered to be inspired and to give to bring ENLACE’s vision into focus.
Our founder and Executive Director, Ron Bueno, shared that by 2020, if we reach our goal of equipping 150 churches in El Salvador, we will be impacting 25% of the people living in extreme or severe poverty. That means we are beginning to see the Church reverse a 300 year history of poverty for one quarter of an entire nation! That is significant.
It is always inspiring to hear Ron talk about vision, however, the highlight of the night was hearing from Gerson Ramirez and Dr. Zuleyma Chahin. Their insights, commitment to Christ, and perseverance in the work make it clear that ENLACE is poised to reach it’s vision of equipping 150 churches to impact 500,000 people.
Dr. Zuleyma Chahin, Gerson Ramirez, Pastor Mario Vega, and Ron Bueno
After initially serving as the doctor of the medical clinic in the remote village of Abelines, Dr. Zuleyma Chahin became the director of all ENLACE’s projects and programs. She currently oversees a team of civil engineers, medical doctors, agricultural engineers, and economists who coach our church partners to develop and manage their community projects.
At the gala Zuleyma passionately shared how God redirected her career from plastic surgery to using her medical and leadership skills to bolster His church to transform their communities. I was moved to hear how after serving at the Abelienes clinic during the day, her evenings were spent praying and listening to the Lord in the dark because there was no electricity. In the quiet and the hospitality of that community, God revealed his love to her and filled her with love for others. Zuleyma said,“For me, being a doctor isn’t for my own glory, for me it is a lot of responsibility because I know that as a doctor God uses me as an instrument many times to bring healing to other people.”
Zuleyma also shared her passion to see God use His Church as an instrument to impact their communities. Through the work of the small church in Abelines, the infant mortality rate has decreased from 47 per 1,000 infants to just one child dying this past year. She assured us that through her team’s efforts, we are tracking and seeing true impacts that spur her on to partner with more churches to impact more people.
Gerson Ramirez, ENLACE’s Church and Community Program Director, shares Zuleyma’s passion for the Church. At the gala he shared that he was working as a youth pastor, mobilizing the youth in his congregation to reach out to the poor when he learned of ENLACE. Even then, at the young age of 20 years old, his true passion was finding a way to help churches effectively reach out to their community. ENLACE was the perfect place for him to live out that passion.
Now, seven years later, Gerson supervises 15 church and community coaches who are equipping 78 churches to impact almost 200,000 people. When asked why the church is so important in alleviating poverty, Gerson responded that the Church is called by God to be his hands and feet in the community. It is truly amazing to see a church capture this vision and be lead by God to build relationships with community leaders, mayors’ offices and businesses to create real solutions to poverty. When the church meets the spiritual and social needs of a community they can rebuild the community.
Gerson’s love for the churches his team coaches came through loud and clear as he got emotional talking about the pastors waiting for a coach. He shared that there are around 40 churches on a waiting list who he has to put off until we can bring on more coaches to walk with them. As he shared, I could tell that this breaks his heart.
Hearing Zuleyma and Gerson talk about the work of ENLACE motivated everyone in attendance at the gala to do something to help equip the churches waiting for a coach and eventually reach the Vision 2020 of coaching 150 churches.
Can you join us and give toward that goal? Let’s resource Zuleyma and Gerson to equip 150 churches to impact 500,000 people living in extreme or severe poverty.