Children pray before their meal at Lucero Church. Today, the church and three of its sister churches serve more than 900 children through Compassion.
Every day, dozens of farmers and their families from rural farming villages across Colombia come to the city, trying to escape failed crops and drought. They see hope in the bright lights of Bogotá® They come in search of jobs, and education for their children.
But instead they find a nightmare. Fathers can't find work; nearly three-quarters of the population is unemployed. Those who find jobs make only about U.S.$5 a day.
Mothers struggle to feed their families. Children turn to gangs and drug abuse. It was here, in a desperately poor and troubled area of Bogotá¬ that the Lucero Church was born. And it was here that Compassion would provide some much-needed hope and a path out of poverty through education.
A Beautiful Partnership
Guillermo Parra established Lucero Church in Bogotá ±4 years ago to help families in need specifically to care for the physical and spiritual needs of children in poverty. Two years after it was established, the church built its first primary school, Colegio Alpes Suecos.
The next year, Compassion partnered with Lucero to open Alpes Student Center (C0-317), the region's first child development center. Pastor Giovanni Melgarego of partner Quiroga Church credits Compassion with helping the church gain the community's trust so it could better serve the people.
"The families were more willing to talk with us because they saw that we were helping them," Melgarego says. "Compassion helped us to show them a God of action one who could care for their children when they were sick, give them food when they were hungry. God came near to them through the program."
Lucero Church started seven more churches. A total of eight churches, all in Bogotá¬ now run three schools and a food pantry for impoverished families. Four of the churches are Compassion partner churches. Collectively, the student centers, churches and pantry are called Canal de Bendició®®
The Canal de Bendició® ³tudent centers place a special emphasis on teaching business development and vocational training. Beginning at age 12, children learn about finance, economics and commerce. In a poverty-stricken country like Colombia, learning how to start and run a successful business is invaluable knowledge.
These churches minister to more than 1,500 children each day, 900 of whom are registered with Compassion. In the next five years, the churches hope to reach 5,000 of the poorest children in Bogotá®¼/p>
"Without Jesus as the center, the programs never would be impacting as many as they are now," says Chaplain Ruth Riativa of Lucero Church. "We are so thankful that God gave us Compassion as a resource to walk together in this path of serving our community."
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