One of the most impactful experiences from our ministry trip to Ica, Peru was hearing the story of Marlene. We built a house for Marlene. She shared with me how about 15 years ago her husband left her and her kids. She had no money or job and was left to raise the kids by herself. She fell into deep depression and decided that she was going to commit suicide with her kids by jumping off a bridge a few blocks from her house.
She started walking to the bridge and as she got there a lady started yelling at her. She told her to stop. (She didn’t know what Marlene was about to do.) She kept telling her to stop walking. Finally she caught up with her and told her “Jesus loves you.” Marlene didn’t know who Jesus was. (Jesus is a common name in Latin America) She thought maybe it was a neighbor of hers or someone that she might know, until the lady explained which Jesus she was talking about.
The lady led her to the Lord right there and told her that God would provide for her even though she had nothing. The next day she had no food and so she prayed, and late in the morning someone knocked on her door. It was her neighbor from down the street telling her she had some leftover food for her family to eat. The day after she prayed that God would provide clothing and school supplies for her kids. Then later there was another knock on her door. Another neighbor had school supplies and kids clothes and told Marlene to take them. Marlene told her that she had no money to buy them but the lady said not to worry. “Just take them.”
God has provided for Marlene and her family for many years like this. Finally she prayed for a new house. She didn’t have an adequate place. She felt that God was telling her “yes”. She waited and waited and eventually someone in her church told her that someone was going to build her a house. She believed, but figured it would be a long time. Then someone told her again and she said “I know, I know”. But then they said, “No. There’s a group here right now. They’re going to build you a house right now!
She looked and sure enough, there we were. And so our group built her house. She was so thankful it was impossible to describe. The area where she lives is dangerous with lots of criminals, but she told us that they leave Christians alone because they respect the power of God. They have undoubtedly seen the power of God at work in her life. She also has a son named Adan (Adam) who has been in and out of delinquency. We feel that building her house was a really strategic ministry because we were able to minister to him a lot. He has a lot of gang connections and he is able to witness to gang members. We could see the change in his heart from when we came till when we left. He took it very hard when we left and we could see the desire in his heart to live for God. We know that we’ve been a part of something much bigger than ourselves where God wants to change the whole community through this family.