“Who do you guys have that can teach you the bible? Who helps you find understanding?” This is the question I asked Antonio as we discussed the opportunities available in their area to learn the Bible. His response: “You guys.”
Antonio’s wife, Lorena, began sharing about how she has been praying for God to send her somebody who would teach her the Bible because she is so hungry for God’s Word. She asked multiple leaders and churches to teach her, but was consistently ignored or forgotten. With sincere tears she told us, “You all are an answer to my prayers.” Antonio spoke up, “Even though I have much work to do each day in the field, I will stay up late or wake up early in order to learn the Word of God.” Antonio and Lorena are hungry for the Word and we are eager to teach them.
Recently, Lorena and Antonio, along with a few dozen other youth, attended our second annual Salvadoran Youth Conference. Over the course of the week, we focused on the parable of the sower in Mark 4. In our initial bible studies, we discovered just how inadequate the education system in the area is. The understaffed and underfunded rural school system has left the minds of these young people unable to read, critically think, connect basic ideas, or believe that they ever could. At first, the teachings we gave mirrored the parable--thrown on very hard, rocky, thorny soil. As the week progressed, however, hearts and minds softened through powerful moments spent in worship, prayer, and the Word. The soil of their hearts was tilled and broken up into good soil, ready to receive the seed of the Word of God.
At this year’s conference we offered two four-day workshops for the youth to choose from in addition to Bible: Drama or Music. In the Drama workshop participants are learning to the basics of acting in preparation of performing an original one act play that will be presented to the entire community (January 5-7). In the Music workshop, Rafael Reyes and Britt Edwards have been working with a rural church worship band to record three songs that they can share with their friends and family. These opportunities help the youth experience something meaningful, and expose them to healthy outlets, as their days are normally filled with manual labor. Through the forums of drama and music, youth are empowered to deal with social issues through sharing something that provokes dialogue. In the process, they too learn how to work through and articulate their ideas on relevant issues they face every day.
Although our organization is multi-faceted and meets a variety of needs, all of those needs begin with our love of God, and our study of the Scriptures. To find people who truly want to know God is a treasure that we thank the Lord for! The youth have begun to recognize that learning the Word has the ability to change them. They are learning that with a knowledge of God's Word, they can face seemingly insurmountable obstacles of cyclical poverty and violence that plague their society. Moments like this motivate the work that we do. These youth are the treasure we’ve found buried in a field, worth selling everything we have. They’re worth giving our lives for!
Written by Matthew Parker
Director of G.O.D. Latin America Region