In rural El Salvador, the lack of income-generating opportunities make it a huge challenge for many men to remain rooted to their locality and to their families. Other challenges such as the lack of education and health care along with poor access to nutritious food sources, create situations of chronic stress and anxiety.They often have to leave their homes to find work in a city or in other countries. Many men, unable to provide for their dependents, leave the family altogether.
Some, like José, turn to alcohol as a way to escape these realities. José, now 33, described his life as a “lake of sadness” wherein he smothered his despair in alcohol. His dependency grew and despite being a part of a loving family, he believed there was no hope for him. Out of desperation in mid-2011, he reached out to Mauricio, a pastor of a local church to ask for prayer. Mauricio and his congregation welcomed him in with open arms, and José, finding in the church a place of refuge, ceased drinking.
Soon after, a church member and neighbor invited José to join him in a home garden project that ENLACE had helped the church to start. Since José had no land and no consistent way to provide food for his family, José joined the project with gratitude and hope. For the last two years, José has not only planted and harvested a variety of nutritious vegetables with his neighbor, he’s remained sober and become a leader of an another ENLACE development project where he teaches community members how to build and use eco-stoves.
The story of José and the Cristo Vive church is not an isolated one; in fact, all over El Salvador rural churches are straining towards their communities, desiring to minister effectively to their neighbors. ENLACE is currently walking alongside over 69 churches which are transforming the lives of thousands. These churches are reaching out to their neighbors through home garden, eco-stove, home building and community safety projects, meeting both physical the spiritual needs.