Teens from the Youth Gospel Group pray with children in their ministry, named The Harvest.
SAN LUIS TALPA, El Salvador Every Saturday at 9 a.m. dozens of excited children gather in the small town of La Zunganera. They scramble to help their teachers set up the colorful plastic chairs in the shade.
The children grow quiet as a tall young man opens his Bible and begins reading. After the short devotion, the children are led in a game where they learn about teamwork. They grin widely as their teachers cheer them on.
The excitement remains even as the next group of teachers write math problems on a chalkboard and then quiz the children on their spelling words. Before snack time, the teachers remind the children about hygiene and health, as the children gather around a water pump and wash their hands. At 11 a.m. fruit and juice are passed out, and children run home to tell their families about the lessons they learned.
While the scene may sound like a typical day at a Compassion-assisted project, the teachers are in fact the Youth Gospel Group from the Jerusalem Tabernacle Baptist Bible Church, a Compassion church partner in San Luis Talpa. These 20 teenagers are all registered at the Israel Child Development Student Center (ES-755), a Compassion-assisted project 35 miles south of San Salvador.
The teens in the Youth Gospel Group know that without the support of their sponsors and the project workers, they would have joined the 60 percent of children in their neighborhood to never attend school. Each one has watched friends go to work in dangerous factories for low pay. Each one desires to keep that from happening to more children in El Salvador.
"We have been attending the student center since we were kids, and we have learned a lot here," says Karla, a 14-year-old who began attending the project when she was age 7. "We think it would be selfish if we kept everything we learned to ourselves, so we decided to start a ministry for children in La Zunganera, a community close to our project."
The Harvest Is Plentiful
Each week, Karla and 19 other youth travel to La Zunganera to minister to 4- to 10-year-olds. What began as a small Bible study has grown to a ministry for more than 40 children. Teenagers from the Compassion-assisted student center take the lessons they have learned and produce their own mini-student center in an empty lot. The teens have even named their project The Harvest, to represent the need for spiritual workers in their community.
"We help our teenagers every step of the way, but this project was all their idea," says Ligia Klee, Project Director. "They know that the training they have received here can be very useful for the children of La Zunganera."
"They see us as servants of God."
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). When the apostle Paul penned those words to a teenage Timothy, he was issuing a declaration one that a group of teenagers are now acting on nearly 2,000 years later. In the six months since The Harvest began, the group has earned the respect and admiration of the community.
"They don't see us as teenagers anymore," says Dennis, a youth involved with the project. "They see us as servants of God."
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