First-Ever Mission / Vision Trip to El Salvador

May 13, 2016 | Global, Mission

Ministry Brands, LLC is a team of people who love to support the work of churches, whether at home, at the office, or abroad!

In April 2016, a team of 12 team members from across the company joined together to visit the Central American country of El Salvador. Along with several US- and El Salvador-based staff from Compassion International, the Ministry Brands, LLC travelers spent 4 days visiting and serving children in some of the country’s most remote and destitute areas.

Team Member Martha helping with Arts and Crafts time

Team Member Martha helping with Arts and Crafts time

The trip is a cornerstone of the company’s Global Outreach initiative. “We made a decision as a company that we wanted to give back a portion of the funds that God has entrusted to us,” said Brad Hill, Chief Operating Officer. “Rather than spread out our funds over a variety of causes, we decided to focus our efforts and go deep in one area,” he continued. After much review and prayer, Ministry Brands, LLC chose to partner with Compassion in El Salvador. Not only did the company send a team of people to visit and serve, but Ministry Brands, LLC also funded the startup of an entirely new Child Development Center in the Caserio el Tablon area. This center, operated in conjunction with a local church, serves over 150 children who live in extreme poverty.

Giving Back Through the Local Church

Ministry Brands, LLC chose to fund the work already happening in this local church, under the supervision of Compassion International. The purpose of the trip was for the team to see the early results of this work up close, and to begin to build relationships with the children in the area and their families. The company plans to send team members to visit the area again, continuing to cultivate these relationships.

Part of the trip included home visits, which helped to illustrate what extreme poverty really means. “I’ve seen live images of extreme poverty on TV all my life. But I never fully comprehended it until I saw it in person … touched it, felt it, heard it, and smelled it,” said Rachel Bomar, a Ministry Brands, LLC employee from Memphis, TN. The team also organized an afternoon of sports, arts and crafts in a mini-VBS camp.

El Salvador is home to some of the most violent, gang-infested areas in the world. Families in the country live under a cloud of fear, knowing that their children are vulnerable to this consuming threat. Yet, the pastors of the churches, along with the director of Compassion’s operations in El Salvador, have hope. “We know that only the power of God will keep these children from the gangs,” one pastor said during a home visit. “We are thankful to our sponsors at Ministry Brands, LLC for providing us the means to give these children a better life.”

I’ve seen live images of extreme poverty on TV all my life. But I never fully comprehended it until I saw it in person … touched it, felt it, heard it, and smelled it

Rachel Bomar

“Did You Like My Home?”

Spending time with the families in El Salvador was one of the most poignant parts of the trip. Typical homes here are constructed of rickety materials, thatched roofs, and dirt or mud floors. Animals such as pigs or roosters are chained up outside many homes, without proper food or sanitation. Most families have one or two rooms with many children sharing a small space. Renn Salo, from the Spokane, WA Ministry Brands, LLC office, shared her perspective. “The opportunity we had to see the homes of the children there was overwhelming. Although they did not have much, they wanted to share what they did with us,” Salo said. She continued, “At the second home visit, they shared their coconuts with us which they get from a tree in front of their house. We got to see the dad climb the tree to demonstrate how they get these for the family which was an awesome sight to behold.”

COO Brad Hill helping push children on a swing

COO Brad Hill helping push children on a swing

Hill, based in Leesburg, VA, was able to visit the homes of his two sponsor children, Jackeline (4 years old) and Maryory (age 6). After the visits, Hill remembers an encounter with Jackeline. “She asked me if I liked her home,” Hill said. “Even though she had virtually nothing, she was very proud for me to come and wanted to know if I liked her home. Of course I told her that it was beautiful!”Spending time with the families in El Salvador was one of the most poignant parts of the trip. Typical homes here are constructed of rickety materials, thatched roofs, and dirt or mud floors. Animals such as pigs or roosters are chained up outside many homes, without proper food or sanitation. Most families have one or two rooms with many children sharing a small space. Renn Salo, from the Spokane, WA Ministry Brands, LLC office, shared her perspective. “The opportunity we had to see the homes of the children there was overwhelming. Although they did not have much, they wanted to share what they did with us,” Salo said. She continued, “At the second home visit, they shared their coconuts with us which they get from a tree in front of their house. We got to see the dad climb the tree to demonstrate how they get these for the family which was an awesome sight to behold.”

Beginning Lifetime Relationships by Sponsoring Children

Nine of the participants on the trip had committed to sponsoring at least one child in the area. All of the sponsors were able to not only meet their children and families, but spend an entire day together with them. The kids were brought to a zoo/water park, and it was there that the sponsors met them. The experience was unforgettable. Sponsors brought gifts for their children, and were able to freely speak and interact with their kids through the help of dedicated translators. There were nonstop smiles, laughs, and hugs—even from team members who might have been a bit apprehensive about how to break through to a child living in a completely different world.

One Ministry Brands, LLC employee even made a life-changing impact on the relative of his sponsor child. “I had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with my sponsor child and his primary caretaker,” said Memphis-based Don Alsup. “His Aunt Vilma prayed to receive Christ as her Savior!”

His Aunt Vilma prayed to receive Christ as her Savior!

Don Alsup

Hope for The Next Generation

The Ministry Brands, LLC team unanimously agreed that the people of this special place left an indelible mark on them. Becky Kopplin, based in Spokane, WA, recounts one boy that especially impressed her. “One of the many highlights of my trip was meeting Estiven. This young man loves the Lord and wants to grow up to be a pastor and have a Compassion project to help others, like his own family living in extreme poverty,” Kopplin shared. “At 9 years old, he led our welcome service and was teaching himself English from a book he received from the center,” she continued.

Children from San Salvador welcoming the Ministry Brands team

Children from San Salvador welcoming the Ministry Brands, LLC team

Ministry Brands, LLC, as a company, intends to continue its relationship with the children and people of El Salvador. The prayer of the leadership is that, through targeted support, individual sponsorships, and long-term relationships, these efforts might succeed in lifting these children out of their current existence—permanently breaking the cycle of extreme poverty. Kopplin saw an early glimpse of encouragement as she remembered Estiven: “As we said goodbye, he said ‘I love you and I’ll never forget you.’ Right back at you kid!” she said, “God is raising up a generation of leaders to bring about a revival in El Salvador and we have so much to learn from these courageous believers.”

Group Photo of Ministry Brands Team Members

Group Photo of Ministry Brands, LLC Team Members

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