As children arrive at the Children’s Care Center, the smell of hearty vegetable soup fills the air.
Twice a week 50–60 youth come together at one of our partner churches in Oruro, Bolivia, to get homework help, spiritual input and a nutritious meal cooked by Madriana and two other women.
Madriana had grown up with a very limited diet and didn’t know about meat or many vegetables. When she first got married and moved to a city, she didn’t know how to cook— or even fry an egg. She started selling vegetables in the market and would ask her customers, “How do you cook this?” They, along with her sister-in-law, started to each her about cooking. Then, when she started bringing her own children to the Children’s Care Center, she began helping out in the kitchen and learning to cook for a large group. Now Madriana says she loves to cook for the children, and she prepares a variety of dishes for them, like chicken, lentils, quinoa or wheat soups.
A church member and mother of seven, Madriana is grateful for the program and what it has meant to her family. About seven years ago, her youngest son was very, very sick. At the time, Madriana had no interest in the church. They sought help for their son from a doctor and witchcraft, but it didn’t help. Then, out of desperation her husband said, “Let’s try the church. What else do we have?”
So they brought him to the church, and that same night the child became healthy. They came to know firsthand that Jesus has power—and from that Sunday on, they began attending church as a family.
Prior to the miracle, Madriana’s oldest daughter had been attending the Children’s Care Center without her mother’s knowledge, but now four of her children regularly attend twice a week. The program has impacted not only Madriana’s family, but the neighborhood as well.
Many surrounding communities have gangs and violence among the youth where young people are getting drunk, partying and fighting, but this is not the case in her community. “In this neighborhood we have no gangs,” she said, “because the children come here [to the church] and they grow with Jesus.”
Madriana said the church has made an effort to provide support to the most vulnerable, and they can see the impact over time: “We were able to see how many of them receive the support, and now these children are coming to church, and then their parents come to church.”
What an incredible way to impact an entire community for Christ!