Pastor Cleto's Greenhouse Feeds Kids in After-School Program
Oruro, Bolivia — A third grade dropout and orphaned at just 12 years old, Cleto never thought he would become a pastor. At 17, he married his wife Julia, and together they had nine children while he spent more than 20 years working on the railroad in the countryside of Bolivia.
It was not until later in life that Cleto felt called to pastor a church in the city of Oruro. His family questioned his decision and the local community was hesitant to accept him. Despite all odds, Cleto planted a church in one of the poorest and most dangerous areas of the city.
To reach his community and form better relationships, Pastor Cleto began working with children from the neighborhood. He invited them to the church to receive a warm meal and taught them about God’s love. More and more children started coming, and soon he was struggling to feed over 80 kids!
Pastor Cleto needed a way to subsidize the cost of feeding all 80 children, so he decided to start a greenhouse and grow the vegetables he needed. Though the dry, rocky soil in the high plains of Bolivia was far from ideal for planting vegetables, Pastor Cleto was determined to follow the Lord’s guidance.
With a small grant from Bright Hope, Pastor Cleto purchased his start-up materials for the greenhouse and after some time it was producing enough vegetables to cover 40 percent of the cost of food for the children.
As people from all over the community came to see the greenhouse and try his produce, Pastor Cleto’s church slowly began to grow and produce fruit. Today, Cleto’s church has more than 100 baptized members who have committed their lives to serving Christ!
“I see each person as a tiny seed, that if planted and watered daily and shown love and care will slowly begin to grow into a vibrant fruit. And with that fruit comes many more seeds. As a pastor, I am a seed-planter and my garden is the Kingdom of God. It is beautiful and flourishing!”