Lives of El Salvador: Giovanni

Giovanni Bonilla

View More: http://adorephotograph.pass.us/projecthope

{photo credit: Loren & Mary Beth Noyes}

The first thing that hits you when you meet Giovanni is his incredible smile. He is rarely with out it. The reason his smile is so memorable, is because few people in life wear one with the genuineness, that Giovanni does. Giovanni is a son, a husband and a father in Puerto La Libertad. He is one of the pastors of a church here fighting for the youth of the city. Giovanni is committed to reaching and ministering to as many at-risk children and teens as he can. He stands in the gap in places where no one else will. He is a loving, dedicated husband and father, director of worship, and an amazing friend.   I have the distinct honor of working with him. Here is more of his story:

M- Giovanni, what event would you say has had the biggest impact on your life?

G- Jesus. Without a doubt the day I knew that Jesus was my savior and wanted to know me. Absolutely it was Jesus.

M- How old were you?

G- I was 13 years old when someone shared with me the salvation of Jesus Christ. My whole perspective changed, the way I was thinking about my life. Because you see, I didn’t come from a loving home. It wasn’t nurturing, I didn’t receive a lot of love, hugs or kisses from my family. But when I met Jesus, I knew his amazing love for me.

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M- Can you tell me more about how your perspective changed? How was your life different with a relationship with Jesus?

G- Well, I was really depressed and thought a lot about suicide. I was not happy at all, and I would for sure be dead right now without Jesus in my life. I had a really hard time growing up. My dad committed suicide 25 days before I was born. Can you imagine? When our children are about to be born this is a time of anticipation, happiness, and excitement. So to know my dad killed himself right before I was to be born was really painful. And I grew up with this pain. I thought a lot about committing suicide. It was really hard…. To know that I wasn’t exciting to my dad…. So without Jesus, I would either be dead or with a lot of girlfriends. Probably with many kids.

M- If you could change one thing about your country what would it be?

G- That’s a hard question. I think I would change people’s attitudes about how they see God. Here many people know God is real, but their attitude is like he is a genie for when they need something.   Or like he is a fireman. They only want to call to God when there is a fire, an emergency or problem in their lives. They don’t know that God doesn’t just want us to know of him. God wants us to KNOW him, He wants to love us, for us to love him. He wants a relationship with us. On our flag of El Salvador it says, “God, Unity and Freedom.” God is first for a reason. I would like my country to know that is where He should be in our lives too.

M- What would you say is El Salvador’s greatest strength?

G- My people are hard workers. We have a saying, “El Salvadoreño se rebusca.” It basically means we do whatever it takes. Take a rock, paint the rock and sell it. Whatever it takes. It is such hard life here.  But the people are so strong and work so hard.

M-Thank you so much for being so open to sharing your story Giovanni. I hope that if someone is reading this, who maybe doesn’t know Jesus, or is depressed will find hope from what you shared.

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Everyone who has ever met Giovanni feels like they have made a friend for life, which ironically is how Giovanni also describes the way he feels about meeting Jesus. He is right, El Salvadoreños are hard workers, who do whatever it takes to care for the ones they love. Giovanni is one of those people. I’ve been blessed to call him and his wife Susanna my dear friends for many years, and am so thankful for the amazing people they are.

Giovanni is one of the reasons for this series about the Lives of El Salvador. I want you to know more than negative headlines and the murder rate here.  We want you to know the caring, loving people who are breaking negative cycles.  We want you to know them personally.  Dads and moms just like you and me, who love our children.  We aren’t such a big world after all.  We are all in this together.  Especially considering all of the hate that’s erupting all over the U.S. and the world, we need to rise up together and say we have had enough.  We need to give, to love, to experience the joy of generosity with nothing to gain.  Only then will the hate be quashed.

Leave a comment or ask how you can help Love Like Crazy and walk beside us in La Libertad.

And finally….

We want you to know that if you are depressed, feel alone, and you think your only option is suicide…. please don’t.  Find someone who knows Jesus and know there is a deeper, more lasting love than you can ever imagine. Please find someone to help you.  A counselor, a teacher, a friend.  Giovanni will testify that there is hope and joy to be found in a relationship with Jesus.

Power of Story

Lives of El Salvador: Samuel

 

 

 

 

Lives of El Salvador: Samuel

I would like to introduce you to Samuel Rivas.  He is a twenty-three year old student, working towards a degree in graphic design.  Samuel sings in the worship band at his church, volunteers to teach kids basic computer skills at the child development center, is a mentor in the church youth group and is a devoted son to his parents Maurice and Maria Elena.  He wakes up at 4 am each day to take a bus to go to the university in San Salvador.  He cares deeply about his relationship with God, his family, friends and his country.

View More: http://adorephotograph.pass.us/projecthope

[Photo Credit: Loren & Mary Beth Noyes}

M: Samuel, what is the biggest challenge you faced growing up in El Salvador?

S: “The biggest challenge growing up here is the lack of dreams people have and also there are very few people who can realize their dreams.  There are very few resources accessible to achieve them.”

M: If you could ask your president anything, what would it be?

S: “If I could say anything, hmmm… I would say that he should stop thinking of his political party, and start thinking of his country.  Start making laws, follow through on his objectives, stop forgetting them, and to stop the criminals once and for all.”

M: How do you see God working in your life?

S: “Every day God works in my life from the air that I breath, to the works of His creation.  I see Him in the care of my family, how He has never left us, and greater still how He is always  helping us and giving us strength.”

M: If you could change one thing for the kids here, what would it be?

S: I would change the education.  The education system is deficient and not good quality. I would implement lessons from the Bible in the schools and the teaching of Jesus.

I am so thankful that Samuel was willing to open up and share a snapshot of his story.  In a world that only sees news about young men getting involved in gangs, young men who’s only focus is womanizing, selfishness, and abuse, you need to know there are better men than what you have seen.  So here is a man of God who willingly and voluntarily is caring for his family, and fighting for the youth of his country.

As I mentioned in “Power of Story,” I will be posting a new story of a person every week.  So don’t miss a week, and subscribe over on the right!