One of the core elements of our work in Latin America is our village outreach. We have been visiting the same few villages almost every single week since we started working in Mexico, and the results we’ve seen have been absolutely miraculous. We’ve seen people saved, lives changed, futures rewritten, and hope restored. We have built community that feels like family and the very fabric of their society has transformed. The public school system has improved, health and sanitation has improved with access to clean water, and families are simply learning to live whole. It’s so incredible to watch.
This week we want to take it all the way back to the very beginning and walk you through the process of empowerment that we’ve chosen to take, which might look a little different than you would expect.
It all started with a sandwich and a hug.
We didn’t start with a ten-step transformational plan. We didn’t have a strategy to reach and influence the most powerful and well-known people in the village. We didn’t even have a message to preach. We just started showing up with a van full of sandwiches and oranges. We would come once a week, park the van, and open up shop. At first they were just interested in the free food. They would grab it and go, not too interested in these odd Americans who kept coming around. Over time they started to notice that we really were there with no ulterior motives. We just wanted to give them a snack and a hug. And we didn’t just do this two or three times. We spent over a year doing only that. Sandwich, orange, hug. Many times they would just grab their stuff and go, but sometimes a few of the mommas would hang around a little longer, interested to know why we come. We started to have beautiful conversations with them, and slowly we saw trust begin to grow.
Once we had the resources available we started bringing huge containers filled with warm meals. We cooked everything from pasta to tamales to beans and rice, and brought it to them every week. We would sit and share a meal with these incredible people, who were really starting to warm up to the idea of friendship with these random people that kept showing up.
We started to get a lot of questions.
“Why are you so nice to us?”
“Why do you care about our kids being healthy?”
“Why do you pray before meals?”
Which resulted in a LOT of incredible conversations.
Since then we’ve rented out facilities in these villages, and we’ve built out our programs like crazy. We’ve added after-school programs, a monthly store, bible studies, and more. But we started VERY small and we took a lot of time building trust and relationship FIRST.
In our first few years we had a lot of people ask us about the results we were seeing. They wanted to know how many salvations, healings, and miracles we’ve seen. They looked shocked when we would usually say, not many yet, but we’ve seen a lot of full bellies.
The first step of our three-step model (Empower, Sustain, Transform) is all about investing love and time into people that maybe haven’t had that from anyone before. It’s about showing them that they are worthy of love, and that they are worth showing up for. It’s about addressing their most fundamental needs (food, clothing, clean water), because that is the simplest way to love someone.
Our plan for expanding into new areas will always be the same. Spend a ton of time showing up with sandwiches and hugs. The time spent in that beginning phase is precious and vital. No matter how big Marked grows, we’ll always start low and grow slow.
Interested in partnering with us in our Village Outreach?