As part of their outreach ministry “Los Amigos” or ‘Friends’ Church', carries out a community feeding program to meet the ever growing needs of the people of Colonia Santo Niño. Santo Niño is a notably marginalized zone, affected by rural abandonment, drugs, alcohol and the predominance of dysfunctional families. Becoming established in the outskirts of Mexicali, has been no easy task for Pastor Lourdes, who was left a widow and commissioned by her late husband to carryout the mission in Santo Niño. She didn't expect the challenge she would encounter: “We were ready for anything”, she comments, “my daughters and I, we knew there would be much poverty, scarcity of every good, disadvantages and so on, and though we considered deeply the spiritual need in the area. We did not consider the emotional breakage, the lack of identity and the shredded hearts we would find. We saw it most in the children and knew that is where we had to start.” Along with her daughters, they began evangelizing the children.
She is very familiar with Outside the Bowl's story, as she has been a partner from day one in Mexicali. “Our story is much like yours. We saw the spiritual need, we cared for the souls, but nothing rendered much fruit because of the physical hunger the kids experienced. You could hear their tummies growling during prayer! We took action and with much faith, decided that God would provide for the physical nourishment of the children as well. "Just when we were struggling most to gather the resources to provide food to the children, we heard about Outside the Bowl" (or ‘ouside de bo’ like she calls it) and knew this was God answering her prayer. A partnership was quickly formed. They have decided to care for the children of Santo Niño - to rescue them from the streets, to know them, to love them and teach them that their present does not have to define who they will become in the future. What began as a child outreach/feeding program, is now a gathering place for entire families; a center where they receive care for the body, soul and spirit. Lourdes shares the story of a family that has been greatly blessed by their feeding program; “it has given them hope to keep on”, Lourdes says.
María’s five children, “never miss”, comments Lourdes. “They are always here, they come to every service, they never miss a meal, even on the days we don’t open, they come. They want to be here all day, they say. They have so much need. We know the food that we give them here is all they eat that day, for their mom is a single mother of five and she struggles greatly to make ends meet. Their hunger is such that they eat anything and everything we give them. They never fuzz or complain, they just eat. We love María’s family very much, we love to see them, to get to know them and we are very blessed to be able to serve them.”
Stories like these, are what the volunteers at “Los Amigos” encounter each day, where breaking bread together, has become the best demonstration of friendship and love for the people of Santo Niño. They thank Outside the Bowl for their service and adds, “on top of it all, the food has been a tremendous blessing for us. It's a great help in the work we are doing and what we want to accomplish. It has strengthened the kid’s health, something vital in order for us to make an impact in their hearts, and for that we are very grateful.”
Written by Vianney A. E.