Known as “the Savior”, “the country with a smile“, and the “Land of Volcanoes”, El Salvador goes by many titles, yet all of the names cannot encompass the diversity of the cultures and people that fill this beautiful nation. Though the smallest country in Central America and the only one without a Caribbean coastline, El Salvador has the third largest economy in the region. With coffee grown in the mountains of the Sierra Madre and sugar cane grown along the coast, much of the population is employed by a prosperous agriculture. A mixture of indigenous and Spanish influences, Salvadorian identity is centralized around language, food, and religious beliefs.
Yet only a few years ago, the nation was not so unified. In January of 1992, a cease-fire ended a twelve-year civil war that had taken the lives of over 75,000 people. Though the years of violence are behind them, corrupt courts and officials still prevent victims from reporting crimes and silence calls for justice. In spite of prosperous agriculture and a developing industrial sector, the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. The poorest families build homes out of discarded cardboard and sheet metal, and half of all children between the ages of six and sixteen do not attend school because their family is unable to pay school fees.
Poverty may run rampant, but God’s richness flows through the hearts of the Salvadorian people. In the past decade, over 9,000 churches have been planted, three of which have become some of the largest mega churches in Central America. There are not enough ministers or Bibles for the growing number of those who are coming to Christ. Forgiveness to those who bear the emotional scars of the civil war still needs to be offered and accepted on both sides of the conflict. The church needs more materials and financial resources to continue to serve the new believers and to continue the ministry that is exploding within the borders of El Salvador.