El Salvador: faith on the frontline

file_pd5tjfa4kxhasrxruwr7c5qkihlazv2wJosué Sánchez, 32, from El Salvador, knows all about risk.

‘I grew up in the most dangerous town in Central America,’ Josué said. ‘There are violent gangs who fight for territory and will kill for no reason. Everyone in El Salvador faces this every day. It’s a matter of knowing how to survive. It’s like: “Welcome to the jungle”.’

Josué was introduced to Christ as a child when a classmate invited him to his house, and the family invited Josué’s mother to church. ‘We started going together, and three years later, I accepted Jesus as my Saviour.’

Aged 17, he committed to serving Christ in a ministerial capacity. At the time, he was in Panama on a short-term mission trip with Operation Mobilisation (OM). Josué volunteered with OM for three years, serving with short-term teams in Central America. He earned a degree in communications, studied English, and worked with a local ministry in El Salvador for nine years, all while serving at his church. He had his own home and owned a motorcycle. It was a fulfilling life.

Trusting God

Then God asked him to give it all up.

It started simply. One day after nine years of ministry, Josué realised he needed a break. ‘I took a two-year sabbatical and worked in a call centre. But in 2018, I felt like God was calling me back to ministry. So, I contacted a friend with OM in Costa Rica and joined them on an outreach to an indigenous jungle tribe.’

At the end of the trip, he was asked to join OM in Costa Rica for three months.

‘I quit my job that week,’ Josué remembered. ‘For the next two months, I translated for short-term teams, and during that time, the support came in for my trip.’

While in Costa Rica, Josué helped with logistics for the arrival of the OM ship Logos Hope, as well as other ministry tasks. Then he was asked to consider joining OM in Costa Rica to help with communications. It was the ultimate risk for Josué. ‘At first, I was afraid to leave everything. I owned a lot of things in El Salvador – my bed, my motorcycle, my washing machine, everything I needed. In Latin American culture, it’s not often for someone to leave their parents’ house and live independently, but I’d been living by myself for almost eight years,’ Josué remembered. ‘I prayed for two weeks, and eventually decided that if the Lord needed me in Costa Rica, He would show me the way. I started fundraising, sold my possessions and God provided everything I needed. Now I’m here for one year, but it could be longer.’

Through this process, Josué learned a powerful lesson: ‘You grow up thinking that by a certain age everything will be figured out, that you will be financially stable, will get married and will have your own house, your own things and things you worked hard for – things that prove that “you can do it”. And then God says to you: “I want to break you down. Come over here and focus on me”.’

Finding fullness in Christ

But Josué said: ‘God has been there and has had my back through it all. Before, I found security in money. But now I have found security in God. We all have bills to pay, things we need or want to buy, or maybe we want things we can’t purchase, like a relationship. It’s natural for us to want these things. But we need to find our fullness in Christ first, and after that, everything will be added to our lives.’

God taught Josué that he doesn’t need earthly possessions. ‘I only need Him. My full mind needs to be concentrated on Him and what He has for me, and He will provide the rest. I lost everything I had, but I gained more than I could ever have on my own, because I am denying myself everyday so Christ can live in me. I might not ever have the means to build a house on earth, but I know I will have a really sweet home in heaven.’

Josué is amazed about the love God has shown him through Christ. ‘I just cannot stop sharing Him with others. Now it’s a matter of showing with my actions what it means to follow Jesus and to love Him.’