The Lempa River divides El Salvador’s east and west, with the differences between them being just as clearly defined. Eastern ox carts are built with solid wooden wheels while spokes are used in the west. It takes three thin eastern tortillas to stack up to one western tortilla. Even the weather respects the division, giving the east a few extra degrees and a pile more dust.
The Lord has blessed on both sides of the river, planting an almost even number of assemblies in each region. Of the nine assemblies in western El Salvador, four are located in the capital region. This report visits the remaining five, and the outreach works associated with them.
Like Jerusalem, the only way out of the capital is down. After winding your way twenty minutes west through a steep gorge, the first assembly work you’ll encounter is in Ateos. Despite its name meaning “Atheist,” the Lord has been pleased to bless in this small town for many years. Hazel Brownlie, of New Zealand, and Helen Griffin both dedicate time here. We look forward to the day, Lord willing, when an assembly is planted in Ateos. Please pray that He will raise up brethren fitted to the associated responsibilities.
Another half-hour west takes you to Izalco, at the base of a volcano bearing the same name. This mature assembly is challenged with older believers suffering health problems and few to fill in the ranks. I spent a couple of years visiting Izalco weekly with teaching, but the need remains. Please pray for another generation to be saved and convicted of assembly truth.
Less than ten minutes down the highway, you’ll arrive in Sonsonate. While efforts have been made over the years, no ongoing work continues in this city of several hundred thousand souls. One of the three nationally-commended workers, Carlos Aguilar, lives in Sonsonate with his wife, Ines, but their time is filled meeting the needs of the surrounding assemblies.
From Sonsonate, travel twenty minutes south to Acajutla in the coastal heat. Alan and Diana Clark have recently moved to this port city. Diana meets with the sisters each week to sew baby blankets, which they distribute with gospel literature in the local hospital’s maternity ward. The reception has been very good. The assembly is also encouraged by four being added in the last year. However, with jobs being scarce, two of their young men have begun working on the ships, taking them away for months at a time. Please pray for the need of employment among believers throughout the country.
Twenty minutes east along the coast takes you into stunning scenery. The Pacific Ocean meets jagged cliffs, and nestled among them is the assembly of nine believers in Mizata. They have recently rejoiced seeing three of their teenaged children baptized, yet they struggle to find interest in the small community. They are also suffering, as one of the overseers moved away after his son’s gang activity put the family at risk. Please pray for this little group.
Amatal, an assembly with over thirty in fellowship, is located the other direction along the coast, about halfway between Acajutla and the Guatemalan boarder. They keep active and have seen a new work prosper in Katarina, a town closer to the border. With at least ten now travelling from Katarina to Amatal for the Breaking of Bread, there is a desire to see a local testimony in Katarina. Land has been purchased and hall construction should begin as the final legal hurdles are crossed.
Returning to Acajutla and heading an hour north will take you past El Salvador’s best high-altitude coffee. The temperature drops significantly as you wind your way up the periodically active Santa Ana volcano. Descending its north side at night gives you a nice view of the lights of Chalchuapa, Ciudad Real, and Santa Ana.
We have been part of the Chalchuapa assembly for five years. We have wept together through many struggles, but rejoice to see how the Lord has matured His people and raised up overseers to care for the flock. Emily McCandless continues to actively encourage the dozen young people in outreach works, including children’s classes in a pediatric ward and tract distributions around town. Two more young men recently came into fellowship, which was a joy for us. I am currently studying Romans with the assembly. Please continue praying for Chalchuapa.
Emily lives five minutes north of Chalchuapa, in Ciudad Real. She has been holding children’s classes for more than a year in a community across the highway from her home. Please pray for the families with whom she has regular contact in the area.
We live twenty minutes north of Emily, in El Salvador’s second largest city, Santa Ana. As the work in Chalchuapa has moved under the care of the overseers, we have begun focusing on this staunchly Catholic city. Since the fall, we have been having children’s and gospel meetings here. Emily labors with us, and one of the overseers from Chalchuapa assists me with preaching and visiting. While we have had many encouraging discussions door-to-door, attendance remains low. We covet your prayers.
The above-mentioned assemblies and outreach works, joined by Santa Tecla from the capital region, meet together monthly for afternoon ministry and gospel meetings. They also hold a three-day Easter conference. In addition, each assembly has its own annual one-week gospel series.
Western El Salvador is far from being saturated with testimonies to our Savior’s name. Four of its six largest cities have no assembly work, and countless communities off the beaten path lie in spiritual darkness. An unfortunately-named “evangelical” movement grows steadily, damaging the perceptions of what the gospel of Jesus Christ constitutes. We need the vital working of the Spirit of God. We need the Lord to raise up evangelists and teachers. And even if this brief tour is as close as you’ll come to El Salvador, we need you to join us in prayer. Will you? We know it avails much!