All. Everything. Todo. Four Orphan Helpers teachers — Francisco, David, Carlos, and Alicia — willingly decided to abandon daily life for the cause of Christ. For 21 days, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they decided to deny themselves, follow Jesus, and serve incarcerated young men and women in juvenile detention centers in El Salvador.
Going into a three-week lockdown at the centers is the only way the teachers can work with the youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Government officials have banned daily visits in order to prevent the virus from spreading inside the centers.
The teachers left behind their family and friends, home-cooked meals, comfortable beds, and their freedom. Each one entered a different detention center, bringing with them essential food and supplies that Orphan Helpers’ supporters provided through their donations.
“It’s not our doing, it’s the Holy Spirit. I am certain the Lord was with us,” Carlos said humbly.
The teachers agreed that the most important part about their three-week stay was the emotional and spiritual support they were able to provide. They said their purpose of spending time with the youth was twofold:
Serve them through prayer, a crying shoulder, or an attentive ear
Love them through encouragement and hopeful messages from God’s word
Sharing the Word of God did not return void.
“I just want to change my life. I am tired of living this kind of life,” one young man shared with David before surrendering his life to Christ.
One simple pleasure the teachers were able to provide was hot coffee in the mornings. The youth were excited about this special treat.
“I had forgotten what it tasted like, teacher,” shared one of the youth in the center. “This is delicious and perfect for the weather!”
During the teachers’ stay, El Salvador was severely hit with Tropical Storm Amanda. Although the centers were not damaged, the storm limited the ability of teachers to enjoy outdoor activities with the youth.
“It broke my heart to not see them enjoy some fresh air for two weeks,” said David.
Another setback was at the detention center for girls. Alicia was forced to quarantine twice because of contact with government workers who tested positive. While those incidents limited her time with the girls, she still counted the experience a blessing.
“I finally understood what it was like to live in their shoes — without family around and without the liberty to go anywhere. I didn’t get it before, but being there opened my eyes,” shared Alicia.
The youth were sad to see the teachers go but they were reassured that the Lord would never leave them or forsake them. They continue to hold on to this truth until another group of teachers enters the centers for another 21 days.