Starting new churches in the dangerous neighbourhoods of El Salvador can be nerve-wracking. But Francisco is firmly convicted in his faith. “I know who I trust,” he says to anyone who tries to intimidate him with insults and fear.
“When I go out, some people tell me I’m going to where there are gangs of bad men,” he says, referring to where he reaches out to others with the Gospel. “I don’t feel any fear. This is a blessing that comes from God.”
Francisco lives in the Tilapa area of rural El Salvador. For him, Starting New Churches training was the moment that confirmed his calling. It also helped him overcome his greatest fear—teaching others. Francisco explains that where he is from, there is very little opportunity to receive an education, much less attend university classes. “I barely learned to read,” he says. To him, teaching others seemed impossible.
Everything changed when he was invited to participate in Starting New Churches training through a partner of Bible League Canada. He not only attended—he completed all 12 modules! “I felt excited that I could participate in the process and thankful to be able to do it,” Francisco shares.
“My fear of being in front of people has disappeared,” Francisco declares. “During the program, my mind was awakened by God to teach others.” He learned to follow a model of teaching one person and then moving on to teach another as part of a new church starting strategy.
For Francisco, the Starting New Churches program was more than training. It provided him with the tools he needed to share the Gospel and disciple the people in his community.
One important factor for Francisco has been prayer. This has been his favourite method of sharing the Gospel. As he prays for people, he tells them that Jesus is the one who can help them. He is now discipling many of the people he has prayed for.
Yet there are still obstacles to overcome. One obstacle for Francisco has simply been other people. They insult him and attack his character, telling him that he’s an “illiterate field worker”, that he “doesn’t know anything” and that “people aren’t listening to him”. All of these are comments Francisco has heard while preaching the Gospel.
But he is not discouraged. He knows the apostles lived through the same situation and points to Acts 4:13 (ESV): “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
He continues to follow the example of Jesus and helps people when they need him. “Now they see they can’t oppose what God does,” he shares. “I always tell them that there is so much that God can do. My own life is an example—I didn’t want to know anything about Him. I understand them because I was like them.”
Francisco wants to continue proclaiming the Gospel in many places and to keep praying for the needs of the people he meets. He also wants to help others become prepared to be leaders like him—leaders who will share Christ and see Him work in the lives of people who need Him most.