Written by Susan Clark
Tuesday night God provided an amazing last minute opportunity to serve in a way we had not planned. Our host missionaries, Kurt and Susan Ackermann have a burden for the homeless in San Salvador and regularly take meals to them. When they asked us if we might be interested in doing this while we were here, everyone on our team gave a resounding,"yes!".
The rain started right about the same time we formed our assembly line to create 150+ meals consisting of ham sandwiches, apples, chips, cookies and a juice box all tied up in white plastic bags. With rain pouring, we loaded ourselves into the back of Kurt's pick-up truck at about 9:00 pm with a large tarp covering our laps and our precious meals. Our destination: some of the most dangerous streets of San Salvador.
At the beginning of the evening, it was difficult to find people because they had taken cover from the rain. We drove under bridges and by the railroad tracks. Whenever we would see a homeless person, someone from the truck would yell, "Comida!" and the person would come running. They greeted us with a smile full of gratitude. At one point, under a bridge several of the young men had bottles hanging from their noses. Kurt told us that they were sniffing glue. This provides them with a one dollar high and helps to numb their hunger. Several times we found a group of people asleep under shelter, and some of us would jump out of the truck to gently wake them and offer them their meal. Those of us who stayed back would whisper prayers of hope for these hopeless. It broke our hearts. These were truly the "least of these", forgotten by their familes, their country, but not their God. It was an amazing priviledge to be used in this very small way to provide a meal for them. In the back of the truck I was wet, cold and uncomfortable, but I was going back to a warm home and a comfortable bed. These people were going to sleep in the cold and rain, not just that night, but only God knows how many more nights to come.
We finally came to downtown San Salvador where we found a large group of people. We handed out our remaining meals so quickly that they were gone in a matter of minutes. We were so saddened because not everyone in this last group got a meal, so we started handing out the boxes we brought the meals in. They gratefully received them. "Dios le bendiga" ("God bless you') was all we had left offer them.
I have never experience anything like this and it has impacted me deeply. How can I return to my large home in the United States knowing that this is going on, not just here in El Salvador, but all over the world? I am grateful for the Ackermanns whose hearts have also been broken for these precious people. They have a dream of a mobile feeding truck where they could drive through the neighborhoods and provide hot meals for these people. Please join with us as we pray for this ministry to become a reality for them. In the meantime, the Ackermanns will be taking their family or other mission teams out in the back of their pick up truck because what you do for the least of these, you do for Jesus.
We were asked not to take any pictures of this event for the privacy of the people we were serving.