On October 1, the Chamber of Agricultural and Agro-industrial Affairs in El Salvador published in a local newspaper that about 8 million quintals (1 quintal = 220 pounds) of maize were lost during the harvesting season last August.
Prices in general have increased, reducing the buying power of the average Salvadoran. On average, people are spending twice as much money on staples for the same amount of goods.
But Juan Carlos looks at his crops that extend over the mountains of the El Capulin community about 45 minutes north of San Salvador and says, “What crisis?”
He explains that he has received help with his crops from Compassion through the child development center his children attend. The help came through a Complementary Intervention (CIV) developed by Salem Bible Church with the advice from Compassion El Salvador.
Complementary Interventions are additional funds that are obtained through proposals written by the Compassion country office as a team with the implementing church partners.
Since sponsorship funds are strictly used to run the day-to-day operations at the child development centers — to meet the basic four components of child development (spiritual, physical, educational and socio-emotional areas) — additional funds obtained through CIV are necessary to implement additional benefits, such as entrepreneurship workshops, or to provide equipment for the centers (computers, water sanitation units, etc), or to offer crisis response and relief.
The CIV proposal Juan Carlos benefited from is called “Fertile Soil.” It has blessed a total of 19 families who had no resources to plant and who depend on agriculture for a living.
Brother Juan Carlos received approximately $400, which was the amount he needed to get the seeds, pesticides and fertilizers he would need to grow his crops. The other families received similar amounts of money, depending on the size of their crops. Each family is expected to pay back their loan once they have sold their crops.
Brother Juan Carlos has been able to plant about two and a half acres with maize, beans and pipian, a kind of white little pumpkin very common in the Salvadoran diet. He will have corn and beans, the base of the average Salvadoran diet, secure for his family for the year.
He has also calculated that from the sale of the pipian, he will be able to give back the money he received from the church so other families’ needs can be fulfilled, too.
The faith that these families put in God shows not only in the provision to get what they needed. The faithfulness of the Lord also shows in the abundance that these crops have produced, even in the middle of a scarcity.
Brother Juan Carlos is a witness that God provided exactly what was needed for the crops to grow up and produce a good harvest. “It is because we plant with faith,” he says.
Along with his crops, brother Juan Carlos has seen hope grow, too.
It is solely because of the mercy of God that brother Juan Carlos has been able to face this crisis with a smile and hopes for a better future. But to get to this point, there were other elements that helped make a difference. The love and hard work from the church staff was key.
Pastor Mena shares about the beginning of this vision, with an expression in his eyes that communicates the passion that he and his team have for this ministry.
“We realized that the time for sowing was close, and we are in the middle of a world crisis … many parents have portions of land, land that was not going to be planted.”
This is when the church started its job, not only praying and crying to the Lord for blessing, but also knocking on doors and looking for a way to help these families.
One of the tools that God put in their path was the ministry of Compassion. Through Compassion, the church was able to get the funds needed to make the loans to the parents so they would be able to harvest.
“We do not charge interest. What we have is a covenant between gentlemen,” says Pastor Mena.
The pastor continues that families will not only fulfill their needs, but also bless other families with the abundance they will receive by giving back. Brother Juan Carlos in an example of this.
Next to the church, there is a portion of about 1,600 square feet; there is a plantation of corn and beans where the children learn from Brother Juan Carlos the basics about agriculture.
“It is beautiful. I can´t help it when I see the children excited to learn and take care of the plants. My eyes get wet.”
For next year, the church staff, pastor and parents are planning on expanding the financing of productive activities to chicken, rabbit and fish farms for the families that are willing to do so. The church is also making arrangements to get a bigger space to keep implementing the agriculture workshops, and implement the learning about animal farms as well.
There are other CIV programs in place to help church partners throughout El Salvador, including programs to help parents grow maize and beans by providing seeds to them at low costs and programs to teach children and parents to make dried fruits and jelly, then sell them as a sustainable activity.
“The cry of a child cannot be comforted when the father is lost because he stole to give food to his family. The call to the church is to do something before this happens, to prevent.” — Pastor Mena