An update from El Salvador by Alex Shevock.
Hello friends and family!
Seven months ago, La Capilla, El Salvador was booming with more than 30 ministries, reaching and teaching the Bible to many. By the grace of God, I was part of that, until I took a flight to Florida for a "quick" visit to my family.
Then COVID hit.
El Salvador closed its borders, airports, schools, universities, churches, restaurants, shops, and everything you can imagine long before the United States. The church that was once super busy was left empty, lifeless.
Fortunately, Facebook and Youtube became the means to stay connected; although many in the church do not have internet. For the past 7 months, Pastor Carlos has been appearing on Facebook Live every night to talk about the daily Bible reading guide he sends in the morning; Ephesians, and a book by Oswald Sanders called Spiritual Maturity that we read digitally every day.
I thank God for the ability to continue connecting as a congregation and learn together during such uncertain times (especially since I was stuck in the United States up until a week ago!) Normally, the congregation of our church amounts to approximately 2500 people (3 services on Sundays with about 800 each service), but now only 550 people. Facebook Live has grown, the viewers range from here in El Salvador, to Argentina, to Mexico, the United States and even across the ocean to Spain. We praise God for how many have been reached through the systematic teaching of the Bible.
In March, the church was mandatorily closed due to government restrictions. The 6-month closure of the church meant 6 months without tithing. The lockdown across the country meant job losses. Fifty percent of parents stopped paying $45 a month for church school. By law, the church has continued to pay the 60 employees (working or not) during these months of almost no income. The property in San Martín has had to let go four of its employees. Two Patmos students from Peru continue to live here, along with two Patmos staff members waiting for the possibility of these students returning home after a long 9-month stay.
The money that was saved to buy the adjoining parking lot to the church has gone to all these expenses, amounting to $90,000. With the opening of the church, worship has begun slowly.
Children's ministry is restricted to online classes, which prevents many from attending in person due to lack of child care. The elderly or sick stay at home for safety, others stay home out of fear or indifference. It is questionable whether the church school will be able to reopen next year, or whether we can have a discipleship program here on the beautiful church property in San Martin. The Lord knows this and we are resting on that fact.
Seven months later, we continue with Facebook Live discussions every night at 8 pm sharp. Sunday will mark the fourth weekend with in-person services, separate seats, required masks and lots of hand washing.
I ask you to PRAY with us as what would typically be the most exciting part of the year; the church anniversary, Thanksgiving, and Christmas festivities simply bring more question marks.
Pray for protection, provision, wisdom, and for God's will to be done (which I sure hope includes a safe and pronto reopening of Campos Blancos!)
Thank you for your support and love towards a place and a people whom I also love dearly.
Here is our Facebook page =)
Con un fuerte abrazo,
Alexa (aka Alex, Alexandra)