Life is not always clean and neat and easy. Life can be dirty and messy and hard. And that’s where SHIP comes in. SHIP (Shelter the Homeless International Projects) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that is committed to providing clean, safe dwellings and offering food, humanitarian aid, and educational opportunities to children and families in an impoverished neighborhood in El Salvador. Through our resale store in Bryan, Texas, we also offer help locally to people in need. But we are committed to more than just a mission statement. We are committed to ensuring that people know they are loved and that they know the truest love of all – the love of Jesus Christ.
“That’s my son,” she says to a packed auditorium of her fellow students. She’s pointing with pride to a seven-year-old who has just strutted out on stage, sporting sunglasses and a jean jacket with the collar popped up, looking so very cool! The audience is quiet and they hang on her every word, as she tells them where she’s been in her short life and how her life has turned around. Life for this pair has been pretty tough. Or at least it was, before they came to live at SHIP’s facility located in El Salvador. She was 12 years old and had been abused, when a family member discovered what was going on and notified government officials, who moved her from a dangerous situation. She’s a good mom, and she has reason to be proud of her young man, who has been the darling of the home since they moved in when he was just a baby.
He’s a moody, sulky, sullen teenage boy with a cell phone and nimble thumbs that can pound out messages at mindboggling speed. He dropped out of school a few years ago, due to lack of money and probably on the solid advice of his gangbanger buddies. He doesn’t have a dad or any man, for that matter, who will help him become a responsible adult, with an education, decent job, and a family. There are no role models.
So, he sits under a street light on his little dirt lane, bootlegging the Internet signal from a neighbor. He’s got nothing, and he knows he’s going to have a lot more of the same in his miserable life. In his ‘hood,’ there’s no employment, no opportunity, no hope. Unless you count joining a gang as opportunity, and he’s seen more than enough friends take a bullet or a blade, putting an end to any hope of making something more of their lives.
He wants everyone to believe that he has life all under control. But he’s lost as he can be.
She’s a single mom, who just can’t make ends meet for herself and 10-year-old daughter. Life was challenging in the poor Salvadoran neighborhood where she lived. Remnants of civil war were still visible. Families had been torn apart, and most of the men had left the country to find work, promising of course, to send back money to their families. But the reality was, the men never came back, and they certainly didn’t send any money. Some men had just left home and joined a gang and took whatever they needed to survive.
Everything in El Salvador seemed to get harder and harder, especially taking care of the kids and keeping them out of gangs. How do you give kids hope, when you don’t have any yourself?
She tried her best, but selling homemade chicken soup just wasn’t bringing in the kind of money it took to keep a roof over their heads and her daughter in school. Now she was four months behind on rent, and the landlord was threatening to evict them.
She unburdened herself to her friend who understood burdens – her husband died suddenly one Sunday morning, just a few months earlier. “Come by for lunch,” she said, “and I’ll introduce you to the people from SHIP. Right after my husband died, they built a room on my house, so my children could live here with me.” So, she came to lunch and told her story of desperation to the people from SHIP.
When we are faced with a child or family in need, it is not necessary to ask God if it is His will for us to help them. The Bible makes it clear that God expects us to do something to meet their needs. It is a very obvious statement to make, but many of us have never thought of it that way, and it hits us right between the eyes and in the heart when we realize the truth of the statement. Whether we should help the needy is not something we have to wonder about. God has already answered that question in His Word. Matthew 25:35-36, 40b: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me…Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” This is what SHIP seeks to do in El Salvador.