Discovering Their Potential: The Story of Pastor Juan Ramírez and the Casa de Alfarero Church


Maybe we were seeing through a blindfold...We managed to distinguish some needs, but it was not clear at all. ENLACE helped us remove this. Now we can see. -Pastor Juan Ramírez

Chantusnene, a village located in San Juan Bautista in the department of La Libertad, was founded in 1996 by a group of 64 families fleeing the devastation of war and seeking a new life. Juan Ramírez was just a boy when he came as part of these families, but he and his new community worked together to build Chantusnene from the ground up.

As Juan grew to adulthood, he became a respected leader in this community even though he wasn’t a Christian at the time. Once Juan met his wife, Yanira, and they began a family that would eventually grow to include seven children, her prayers that he would begin to follow Christ were answered. In 2006 he became the lead pastor of the Casa del Alfarero Church, Chantusnene.

Even though Juan was taught that his ministry did not include community service, his good relationship with the mayor and strong relationships with the community that had been built over 16 years, made his community involvement a given. It was not uncommon for Pastor Juan to be asked to intercede during conflicts or help with charity projects. In this way, Pastor Juan believed he was well aware of the needs, desires and challenges within his community.

In 2011 Pastor Juan attended a conference in which he learned of ENLACE from an inspiring presentation given by Pastor Rafael González from the Nueva Jerusalén Church. Pastor Rafael spoke about what his church had been doing in the city of Comecayo. After Pastor Juan began to partner with ENLACE he said, “I thought I knew enough about my community to help them. But ENLACE taught me and my leaders techniques that opened our eyes the real needs and our church’s potential.”

As their vision of service changed, Juan, his leaders, and the community identified more than 30 needs. Of these needs, the church prioritized five projects that would enable them to significantly connect to their neighbors. No longer would the church simply provide chairs for wakes or financial help to mourners as they had in the past. They were excited to discover that they as a church offered much more than that.

This new vision of transformation began when the church surprised the students and teachers of a local public school by repaving their dilapidated courtyard in a weekend. The church managed the project from start to finish which included masons, materials, volunteers and a tight schedule. This experience brought both the church and students so much joy that the church has moved on with gusto to their next projects. These projects include securing and distributing wheelchairs from an international company and providing the space for workshops that help single mothers acquire new, marketable skills like sewing and baking.