"What is your hope for the future?" an interviewer asked several people during a recent visit to El Salvador. It's a common question during project visits to Compassion projects, one way to see if the seeds of hope have taken root in people's lives.
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But something about their answers struck Wilfredo Luna, the national director for Compassion in El Salvador. "They had no answer," he said.
According to Luna, many of the children in Compassion El Salvador projects live in single parent families in which the mother ekes out about a $120-a-month living. The struggle is no different for two-parent families.
Many children live in small, one-room houses typically shared by two or three other families. The houses have dirt floors and barely sufficient utilities - some are completely without running water and electricity.
"Day by day, the people are only thinking about how to survive; they are not looking to the future," Luna said. "So that is why I think the most important goal for us is to provide them hope for the future."
For Luna, only the whole message of Christ can give that hope. From very early on, children in Compassion projects learn about God's immense love for them, the foundation upon which all other programs are established. According to Luna, the children eagerly participate in activities. Just having something to look forward to is a significant step toward having a greater hope.
"When the children come to the student center for an activity or to participate in a performance or to learn a skill, they are becoming a part of something," Luna said. His dream is to see the children continue to grow in skill and knowledge so they can be part of something even bigger.
"My hope, my dream is to see hundreds of kids who have obtained a certain level of skills go on to be professionals, to be leaders, to be people of influence that can really change our nation." He continued, "The problem with my nation is that we don't have the right leaders because they don't have the right heart. And if these children have Christ and Christian values in their hearts, they can be the leaders of our future."
"I remember that Dr. Wess (Stafford) said there will come a day when one of our sponsored children will be president of a country where we minister," Luna recalled. "My prayer is that perhaps El Salvador will be that place."