“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
SHIP International started in 2004 with one plan—to construct a building for an orphanage operating in El Salvador. We are often asked, “Why did you choose El Salvador?”
Truth of the matter is, we didn’t. In 2004, the founders of SHIP, Ann and Robert Horton were invited to visit the smallest country in Central America to evaluate a 12-acre property and determine its suitability for building. So, they did what any normal couple in their fifties would do. They said, why not. And, of course, they hadn’t googled anything about the country or located it on a map, so they had no idea where they were going. If you ask them, they’ll tell you that they think that was part of God’s plan.
It was a four-day trip that would change their lives forever. They met the group of about 30 children who lived in a small and rundown place they called an orphanage where no person should be expected to live. And they fell in love with those adorable kids.
At the end of their four-day trip, they felt ready to go back home, but as their plane lifted off and they looked out the window and saw the volcanoes and the lush green jungles, they both knew they would return. They had seen a need greater than anything they had ever experienced in the US and knew God was calling them to work with the people of El Salvador.
Over SHIP’s years in El Salvador, that work has taken many forms, all centered in that 12 acres Ann and Robert visited on that first trip. It’s now SHIP’s neighborhood. It’s where we’ve built and restored neighbors’ homes, started a scholarship program to send children to safe schools, celebrated university graduations with scholarship students. It’s where we’ve started Bible studies, a women’s work center, and SHIP’s own private school, Escuela Luz de Jesús, where each child is given a scholarship and encouraged to grow in the love and knowledge of Christ and is challenged academically.
So here we are. Why did we choose El Salvador? It was not SHIP’s choice. But it has become our privilege to work there with some of the warmest, most loving people we have ever met.
SHIP started with what seemed like a big plan but which has become a small part of all He had planned for us. God knows His plans for all of His children, and we are honored to live it out and share it in El Salvador.