The

Rance's

MOBILIZING THE CHURCH TO THE MANDATE AND EQUIPPING THE CALLED.

IMAGES OF HOPE AND DESPAIR

BY DELONN RANCE (2001)


In the company of a police escort, four days after the quake, we approached the site of the "Slide" of Las Colinas in Santa Tecla just three miles from were we live in the capitol city of San Salvador. The entire nation of El Salvador was thrown into turmoil by a 7.6 earthquake at 11:35 on Saturday, January 13th. Estimates of the impact of the quake indicate that at least a thousand lost their lives (550 in Las Colinas alone), many remain unaccounted for, thousands are injured, hundreds of thousands of homes destroyed, over a million one hundred thousand are displaced and millions more traumatized.
 
We walked through a neighborhood now vacant passing trucks lined up to remove the rubble of what once was a community.  It is hard to describe what it looks like when the side of a lush green mountain comes crashing down on a city. The rescue and recovery teams worked spread over a huge area of devastation. The air was filled with dust and feted with death. Cina Canada, photographer for the Division of Foreign Missions, began to take pictures of the devastation. I accompanied her to assist with communication. We clambered up through the rubble several hundred feet to where workers were digging. The smell indicated that they were getting close.
 
The first image to emerge was a small partially decayed hand of a child that appeared to be reaching out of the dirt for help. The workers carefully began digging around the hand. A man searching for his family pushed through the workers to see if he could identify the hand. He had been at work. His wife and two children had been in their home when the quake hit. His shoulders shook, he groaned, he wept. The workers tried to console him. "At least now you know, you can bury them properly." As they spoke, another aftershock rippled through the mountain (one of over 3000 aftershocks). The digging stopped. One of the leaders barked, "You two, keep your eyes on the mountain. The rest of you get back to work." They continued their labor. Finally, a backhoe was called to lift a fallen wall.
 
With the wall removed, a scene out of the "Last days of Pompeii" was revealed. A mother and child in a final embrace. The father was spent. He walked a few feet away, pulled out his cellular phone and began to make funeral arrangements, all hope gone.
 
But there is hope even in the midst of crisis. We are ambassadors of hope for Jesus Christ is our Hope. The Assemblies of God responded immediately. Royal Ranger's in full uniform were among the very first to arrive in Las Colinas to assist in the rescue. Food, water, clothing, blankets, plastic were gathered by local churches, piled into vehicles and taken to those in need throughout the country often at great sacrifice and risk, but they did it in Jesus Name.
 
An emergency committee of national leaders and missionaries was formed. The Division of Foreign Missions in the United States made funds available and dispatched personnel with experience in emergency relief providing key input. Convoy of Hope has shipped containers of emergency supplies and Health Care Ministries have sent medical teams. The different arms of the Body have come together in marvelous way. Pastors, presbyters, members, missionaries, ministries like King's Castle, ENLACE (a community development NGO led by Ron and Dave Bueno), Latin American Child Care and many others, all working together that Jesus might be glorified and that many may come to know Him as Savior and Lord.
 
The need is still great. The devastation is not limited to Las Colinas. There are entire towns totally leveled, the final death count will never be known. The President of El Salvador has estimated that there is a billion dollars in damages. The numbers are still coming in but as of this writing 229 churches of the Assemblies of God have been damaged 62 of which are totally destroyed. There have been 71 Assemblies of God parsonages completely destroyed and 109 that suffered between light to severe damage. Many of the church family have lost loved ones and many more have lost their homes. If you would like to help and be a part of the reconstruction, see the attached letter for options.
 
There is a body yet to be discovered in the ruins of Las Colinas.  The daughter of one of our pastors served as a nanny in one of the homes buried in the slide. All they have been able to recover are some of her clothes, her birth certificate and her Bible. On recovering the Bible her father said,  "This is a great comfort for we were able to give her faith." When our General Superintendent, Jeremías Bolaños, asked him, "but aren't you saddened by this incredible loss."  The pastor replied, "Yes, very sad, but our hope is greater for we have faith."
 
We have hope because we have faith. It is our Master's desire that every Salvadoran come to faith. Pray with us that every resource will be maximized to bring glory to our King and many sons and daughters to glory.