Hultner Estrada & Bethany Beachum
“There are so many things we would like to do, but we lack the resources.” This quote sums up the lament of many Christian leaders in the face of a number of issues that go unresolved in their communities. Despite these challenges, several churches have been experimenting with a simple methodology that is helping to meet small – but significant – needs in their barrios and neighborhoods. They are called “Seed Projects.”
The Seed Projects are carried out by the local church and are acts that demonstrate the love of God to their neighbors. These projects are set apart because of their short-term nature – they are completed in a few hours and they use local resources from the same community.
Recently, a group of pastors and youth leaders that participated in the program “Misión Transformadora” (or, Transformational Mission), organized a Seed Project to restore a recreational space known as “the park of the dropouts” in a community with named “El Proyecto,” located in the department of
Everyone helped out in some way, whether it was cleaning up the park, pruning shrubs, painting benches and the basketball court, or contributing brooms, shovels, machetes, paint, brushes, and other materials.
It didn’t take long to have the community involved in the project. The first to arrive that day were youth from the community, who already had the habit of gathering there in the mornings. Although they were shy at first and maintained their distance, soon, they too offered to lend a hand in helping and contributing materials.
“Why are they doing that,” asked some onlookers, “It’s a miracle that someone came to clean this,” others expressed.
“This park had become a meeting place for youth with a history of drug addiction and violence. It had been abandoned to the point that the authorities didn’t even pay attention to it anymore,” explained Gioconda Ordoñez, director of “The Renewal” Educational Center. “But by coming here, I think we are reaching out to the youth, and maybe that will help them want to improve their lives.”
“We are here as leaders of different churches to put into practice what we have learned about service to our community,” expressed Esperanza Castillo, leader of the church La Hermosa, who was interviewed by a journalist. “This place was chosen because this park has been abandoned, and children and adults alike are scared to come here. We also chose it because it is an opportunity to demonstrate the love of God to the youth here and the people who live in this area.”
“These youth remind me of my own past,” shared Pastor Álvaro Garcia, of the church Josué 1:9, “And just look at how they get involved when someone pays attention and cares about them.”
At the end of the day, Roberto Aldana, young painter and member of the church Tabernáculo de Adoración, asked the youth, “We want to paint a quote on the basketball court, what would you like it to say?” After a small discussion among them, the youth of the barrio decided to paint, “God with the Project.”