|Left to right: Muslim Imam Dr. Armando Bukele,|
Episcopal Father Luis Serrano,
Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gomez
|With Pastora Norma and Rev. Jeff Johnson, Chaplain |
of University Lutheran Chapel, UC Berkeley at
Cordero de Dios (Lamb of God) Lutheran Church
in Soyapango, one of San Salvador's neighboring cities.
Rather than pack up and move the church, or at very least the worship service into a more secure community, Pastors Norma and husband Rafael believe that this is exactly where God needs them the most; where God's presence is most needed. They have embraced the youth of this neighborhood and try to offer them an alternative to the dangerous yet tempting lifestyle of easy money in organized crime. A group of teenagers have started a band, and with Rafael's leadership they are practicing covers and writing their own songs. They also lead rocking praise music on Sundays that rivals any contemporary service I've ever seen!
Two of the band members will be starting university studies next year, one to become a teacher. These youth are thriving in a place where opportunites are few and far between, they have a reason to hope even amidst so much hopelessness. With just the handful of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters that make it to the offering plate each week, this little church is making a striking change for the better; reforming its community.