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How the Pupusa Church Serves Town in El Salvador

How often do we see people at traffic lights and are tempted either to help them or to donate something?

Do you remember donating 50 cents to someone recently? What can 50 cents do?

A town I visited recently has almost no traffic lights. It is a very small town, yet the people there have big hearts. I am referring to Zacatecoluca, the capital of La Paz, one of 14 departments in the country of El Salvador.

This little town of Zacatecoluca has volcanoes, earthquakes, immigration issues, scattered families, broken relationships, gang violence, extortions and low-literacy rates, to name a few challenges.

Amid all these stands a little church on the street corner of the main road running through town.

This church has only three high walls made of hollow blocks. Where is the fourth wall? It is either in the process of being constructed, or perhaps it is left open as an invitation for everyone to enter the church.

These walls are painted beautifully with bright colors and inscribed with inspiring Bible verses.

The fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22) – are displayed, which remind us about the hope we have amid any situation.

These are not just displayed on the walls of the church; they are evident in the lives of the church’s members.

The church has a wonderful sound system stored securely in a tiny room. It means that it is precious and is used for church worship. It is kept safely, which shows that it is valued and bought for a price.

The worship team brings lively music using this sound system. Through this music system, “the voice of the gospel” reaches the hearts of the people of this town.

This was displayed vividly in the testimonies of those impacted by the church.

The “Iglesia Comunidad Cristiana Bautista” has many other unique features. One that stands out is the beautiful picturesque view of the volcano, Chinchontepec, right from the center of the church.

The church also has a beautiful garden, which has various flowers and many fruit-bearing trees.

As the name suggests, this church is a community of Christian believers who come together to work at the church on all occasions, especially when it comes to fundraising for various mission projects.

The church is self-reliant and generates the required funds through prayer and hard work. They prepare and sell pupusas – a popular food in El Salvador.

Within a few hours after we landed, we were briefed about how to make pupusas. It requires intense preparation and patience to make them – at least for foreigners who are learning.

The church’s pastor, Zorina Masferrer, shared the story of the pupusas as we were getting the instructions to make them.

The chef, who runs a local hotel and sells pupusas for a living, came and helped us to start with the hands-on experience.

The pupusa is made of corn or rice flour and is like a thick tortilla filled with beans and cheese. Then it is fried with a little oil.

The pupusas are served hot and are very delicious. We enjoyed making and eating these special pupusas.

After the intense process of making the pupusas, they are sold for just 50 cents on the street right in front of the church. Just 50 cents will buy a pupusa and feed a hungry person.

These pupusas sold on the street also become a fundraiser for this small church. The funds for building the three beautiful walls of the church, for providing the sound system and many other projects came through funds raised by selling pupusas.

How many pupusas does the church need to make and sell for a substantial fundraiser?

In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).

“This pupusa church is built by the Grace of Lord Jesus Christ,” Zorina Masferrer said.

It is a community of believers who faithfully comes to fellowship. They come together in unity to make all this happen through prayer and faith. The love of God is demonstrated through these simple acts.

A pupusa, worth just 50 cents, is changing lives and building the Kingdom of God.

Nathanael Blessington Thadikonda is an international student from India enrolled in the master of divinity program at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Presently, he serves as a student ministry intern and as an associate pastor for the Asian-Indian and International Ministries at Deep Run Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia. Being born as a fifth generation to a Christian missionary family from the late 1800s, he is passionate about missions and pastoral care.

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series of reflections on the BTSR Mission Immersion Experience to El Salvador in January 2018. Previous articles in the series are:

A Horrific Slaughter That Must Never Be Forgotten by Cadance Tyler

How U.S. Exports Violence into Heart of El Salvador by Joseph Furio

U.S. Decision Leaves Salvadorans ‘Running for Their Lives’ by Sue Smith