I was in a great conversation yesterday with one of our long time teachers about where the Lord has taken us at Club Esperanza and how much history we have together all the way back to the days inside the dump. It was so encouraging reflecting on all the good things the Lord has done, but then I asked how the new neighborhood where all the families from La Chureca were moved to was doing. She does some tutoring at one of the homes about ten blocks away. Wow, there is still so much darkness. We are on the main road, we operate during the day and Club Esperanza is a place where the light of Christ shines and darkness is getting pushed further and further away, so we don’t always see the visual evidence of the darkness.
She continued to tell me how only last month a few full blocks were incredibly intense because there was a dispute among some young men that led to one being killed. There was accusations of drugs and a turf war type of thing. Apparently the wrong person was killed by whichever evil person was resorting to deadly violence. That led to family of that person seeking revenge, which led to a week of violence and gunfire and another death. Incredibly scary stuff and real darkness.
I don’t know if any of you have ever seen the movie “Lean on Me” in the late 80s. Morgan Freeman’s character Crazy Joe takes over a High School that was overrun with drugs and violence and cleans it up. That movie impacted me and little scenes from it always come to my mind…sometimes I even sing the “Fair East side” tune which was the school alma mater (watch the clip here it is awesome). I loved how the movie portrayed the darkness of drugs and violence and laziness and settling for the same old cycle of poverty and crime was being defeated by adults who cared enough about the kids to make a difference in their lives.
So, as I left Club Esperanza reflecting in prayer on the difficulties and hardship that surrounds us, the Lord gave me this picture of two of our students waiting outside for afternoon classes to start….
Right out in front of our school, on a street that has plenty of darkness…two of our elementary school students were playing chess. I watched them for a minute thinking to myself they can’t possibly know the rules. But they did and it was fun to watch her take his knight with her pawn. I asked them how they knew the game of chess and they told me Teacher Eber taught them how to play after school. How awesome is that? It is something simple, but it brings tears to my eyes because something so simple as a game of chess can certainly have the power to change entire generations.
Jesus has not just planted Club Esperanza in this neighborhood to keep children safe, to keep them healthy with a meal every day, not just to give them a good education. Jesus is growing up a generation of children who hunger for knowledge and new things that will challenge their minds, change their view of the world, and deliver them from dark places. Our third graders play chess in the streets….and I love that!
“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.“ -The Gospel of John 1:4-5
Thank you for your continued prayers and support for Club Cristiana La Esperanza,
Chris Farrington (Chachi)