by Ricardo Gomez, Director of Community Projects, Latin America North Territory
In a time of crisis such as the one triggered by COVID-19, it has been admirably impressive for our territory, Latin America North, to receive practical and effective support from the international Salvation Army to relieve the pressing needs caused by the coronavirus. The challenge of working in 10 different countries, each culturally different from the other, and having to deal with sometimes contradictory restrictions, has been overcome by the tremendous disposition and energy of officers, soldiers and volunteers.
As a result, we have collected countless life stories and testimonies that highlight the different facets of the Army’s practical and timely service and assistance to men, women and children in dire need of food.
Jorge Rivera from Guatemala says The Salvation Army has made a huge difference in his family’s life. Losing his work, Jorge lacked the financial resources to feed his family. The only food he could take home was what he received every day from The Salvation Army. “The Salvation Army has saved my life,” said Jorge.
Carmen usually sells goods at an unofficial market stall at the side of the road, which she has not been able to do in the past months. She thanks The Salvation Army for its mission which means she and her family are not starving. Carmen has no money, but she and her family only have words of thanks to God for The Salvation Army.
In talking with people who have benefitted from The Salvation Army’s help, we have found certainty we are doing the right thing to reach the neediest people.
Officers also have recognized the incredible impact their activities are having on people’s lives. They, in turn, are offering gratitude to God for His provision and for the international support in a time of worldwide crisis. This support and assistance gave officers a strong feeling of unity in service and commitment to God and people.
When the call to serve the needy, the hungry and the forgotten is strongest, the officers strengthen their vocation, their faith and their commitment to the mission.
Humanitarian efforts in response to the pandemic have focused on providing food but also hygiene items such as hand sanitizer, disinfectant and informational material, backed up by emotional and spiritual support. This has been provided to the most vulnerable members of the population, such as homeless people.
For The Salvation Army in Latin America, the effects of the pandemic have provided an opportunity to publicize our mission, showing how people of all ages have benefitted without discrimination. We also have created working networks with other public and private institutions to strengthen care work without duplicating effort, always seeking to serve those who need it most.
In the process of implementing our coronavirus projects, we have found families with numerous members who have seen how The Salvation Army’s provision of food has come as the answer to a long night of prayer. We have contributed to information campaigns with each beneficiary receiving advice on how to wash his or her hands correctly, how to apply social distancing measures and how together we can prevent the spread of the virus.
Amid this pandemic, we have discovered the love of God in each plate of food, in each look of thanks, in each smile received. Every morning we wake up with the commitment intact to reach those people who are waiting for some light, a prayer, a little food—just as Salvation Army representatives have done for 155 years.
We extend our gratitude to each of our donors because with their help we are able to change a life, create an impact and witness that the love of God is more alive than ever—and that it is even more visible in times of need and uncertainty.
With great joy we will continue working to fulfill Jesus’ mandate to love God above all things and to love our neighbors as ourselves, being agents of change in the midst of so much need and sadness. We seek to be an answer to prayers, to be an instrument of faith and a voice of hope.
Adapted and reprinted from All the World.