Chuck Fanberg

Prayer Letter/Ministry Update

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It was already dark when we visited one of the new friendship groups of the San Salvador Alliance Church in El Salvador. As we turned into the community the pastor turned off the headlamps on the car. There were street lamps and front porch lights but many dark shadows. People were outside talking and children were kicking a soccer ball in the street.
“Why did you turn off the headlamps?” I asked Pastor Carlos.
“We do that as a courtesy to the gangs, so that they can look in our windows and see that we aren’t members of an enemy gang,” he answered rather nonchalantly. The home of Dra. Claudia was filled with people that night. The meeting was typical of the Salvadorian culture – filled with friendliness, caring, and expressive joy. It was a fun night.
One of my initiative efforts since returning to live in Central America in September 2018 is to see our Alliance churches using friendship groups to reach into their communities and attract people to Jesus. Your partnering with me over the last year has made it possible for me to train leaders in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. I began the training first in the Salvadorian Alliance a year ago and the foundation is taking form and starting to flourish. The groups are growing, and more importantly, new leaders are being prepared for group multiplication. Your partnering with me has made it possible for me to train these friendship group ministry leaders.
Pastor Walter of the Apopa Alliance Church (El Salvador) brought me to a friendship group meeting of their church. As we entered the community Walter informed me that the only reason that we could enter that area is because he is known as the pastor of the church on the corner and he had earned the trust of the gang members as being non-threatening and a help to the people of the community. There were two friendship groups that met in the home we visited that evening. One was a group of a dozen teens lead by a college age youth. They sang, played games, studied the Word, and memorized Scripture. The other group was of about 15 pre-school and elementary school aged children. There was an adult leader and two teenage leaders working with this group. I recognized one of those teen leaders as 14-year old Jackie. She had proudly informed me at the leader’s meeting earlier in the week that she was an assistant-leader learning to lead. Here she was already learning to serve.
As we drove out of the community that evening Pastor Walter informed me that almost every one of the kids present that evening were children of gang members. One of the teens was the son of the former leader of the local gang who is doing a 30-year prison sentence. Another is the son of the current gang leader.
“The gang members don’t mind that their kids go to a church group where they are studying the Bible?” I asked.
“No”, Walter said, “they want their kids to be influenced by the Gospel. They don’t want their kids to grow up to live like they do. They encourage their kids to go to church too.”
“Do the gang members themselves ever come to church? Are they open to the Gospel?”
“They come when their children have a special participation like a Christmas Pageant,” he replied, “but otherwise they say it is too late for them to change.”
Five years ago, the Apopa Alliance Church was poorly located deep within one of these gang-controlled communities. Only people from that neighborhood could attend the church as outsiders put their lives at risk to enter there. Parents would not allow their children to go to the church because of the danger. This was especially true for teenagers. Thanks to a grant from the Lima, Peru Alliance and additional assistance from our US Alliance, the Apopa Church was able to purchase a property on the main highway of Apopa that is highly visible and easy to get to. Most importantly it is in neutral territory – people from any community can attend. The result has been growth and reaching into new neighborhoods. Thank you for your giving to the Great Commission Fund that has provided funds for helping this project. In their new location the church has gained a reputation for helping the community. This month “Wired” Envision, our Alliance short-term mission site, began a new pilot program in the church to help these children with their educational, social, and nutritional needs. There are great opportunities there. It is exciting that as you partner with me, we can be a part of it.
In July a short-term team from Lima, Peru visited El Salvador to do ministry. Team members, accompanied by church members, entered the communities to share about God’s love. Many people received Jesus as a result of the door-to-door visitation and are being assimilated into the friendship groups. Dra. Claudia’s group has received three gang members into her group where they are experimenting first-hand the joy, caring, and peace that is found in a group of Jesus followers. They are also discovering that it is never too late to receive the forgiveness and salvation of Jesus. Please pray for the friendship groups as they reach into these neighborhoods that greatly need the transformation that comes from a relationship with Jesus.
I greatly appreciate the generosity of so many of you in giving to my support and to the Great Commission Fund of The Alliance. I know that many of you have me on your prayer list and pray for me regularly. You make it possible for me to work in the countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, consulting with our pastors and training leaders for a growing Kingdom impact of The Alliance in Central America.

Prayer Requests/Answers to Prayer

1. As the only Alliance missionary serving the five countries of Central America, my role demands considerable travel. I am on the road half of the time. That means a lot of social contact (tiring for an introvert), exhausting travel days, and trying to get good sleep on beds that are too short and too hard. Sometimes it all catches up to me in the form of mental and emotional fatigue. Please pray that God will give me the strength I need each day to continue the ministry He has given me.

2. An initiative that The Alliance has for Central America is to have at least one Impact Church in each of our five Central America countries. An Impact Church is a church located in the capital city that has a synergistic influence and impact that far exceeds that of a regular local congregation. We have three developing Impact Churches at important points where we need to bring them to the next level in their development. Each urgently needs to purchase their own property to become fully established in their community and to have adequate space for their growing ministries. Properties in capital cities are expensive. My prayer for these churches is, “God, we need so much money to get these properties that we need, it is overwhelming to me. I look to you to provide the miracles that are needed for these churches.” Would you please pray with me that God would provide for the properties for these three church plant projects?

3. Due to the travel limitations from the coronavirus I am not able to travel to within Costa Rica or to the other Central American countries. One of the ways I have continued to reach out to our pastors is to offer a church growth and consultation by way of Zoom. Please pray for this to be productive in preparing our pastors to the return of regular church ministry.

Costa Rica

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Updated: April 29, 2020

Status
Home Assignment
Country of Service
Costa Rica

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