We had another outstanding day today, though the human misery and abject poverty we witnessed as we delivered bags of food to needy families after lunch today was heartbreaking and gut-wrenching at times.
We spoke this morning at the State of Israel public school, just a few blocks from the Primera Iglesia Bautista (First Baptist Church) here in San Marcos. We split up into 4 teams, with one group sharing with the pre-K and K classes, another group speaking with 1st and 2nd grade classes, a third group going to the 3rd and 4th graders, and the final group sharing with the 5th and 6th grade classes. There were generally 2 sections of each grade and a total of around 425 kids. We played some games with them, shared a simple Bible story about Jesus´ love for children, and gave them some snacks and crayons as a gift. With the older kids, we also shared a gospel presentation with them.
One of our team members had an interesting conversation with a 2nd grade teacher who is Roman Catholic. She commented that she had observed many pastors who seem to be serving for the wrong reasons--financial gain, etc., and mentioned some she knew who took luxurious vacations with their families while so many around them lived in extreme need. She observed that the FBC here though was different--they really were involved in the community and were seeking to meet the needs of others and this had impressed her. She expressed her opinion that this was what churches should be like. I shared her views with the pastor later and he was grateful for the good report. I´ll probably share at a later point about his ministry with street kids and troubled adolescents. It´s an amazing story of love, compassion, and hospitality beyond anything one would expect.
After lunch we went to some extremely poor neighborhoods where we delivered bags of food to some acquaintances of church members and took the opportunity as well to share the gospel with them and pray for their needs. A couple of cases really broke my heart. One was of a lady whose husband was in the very prison where we shared yesterday. He was imprisoned for domestic violence, having threatened her with a machete. He´s an alcoholic and when he is drunk is violent and abusive. She´s trying to raise 5 kids basically on her own. Another lady we shared with had visited the church for the first time yesterday, having been brought by a neighbor. She has 7 kids, all under the age of 13 and is a single mom. She leaves the kids home alone while she works to try and make enough money to support them. Both of these ladies prayed to receive Christ with us after having heard the gospel.
Another group shared how they went to a home where the mom through her tears said she was at the end of her wits--trying to care for a mother dying of cancer and attending to the needs of her own young children. The house was filthy and the team took time to clean her house--sweeping the floors, washing her dishes, washing the laundry and hanging it to dry--in addition to delivering the food and praying for her.
Still another family that this group ministered to involved a young teenaged mother who had given birth to two children--both the products of having been raped. The mom has some mental issues and her six-year old son is about the size of a three year old due to malnutrition. He can barely speak. Her newborn baby was in terrible shape as well and the team took milk back to the family for the baby as well.
Seeing what we experienced today was heartbreaking on many levels, but it reminded me of how greatly we´ve been blessed as a nation in comparison with so much of the rest of the world and what a tremendous responsibility we have as Christians to meet the needs of others as God permits us to minister to them.