A faith that sustains — from war in El Salvador to earthquakes in Japan

By Phil Schmidt

The children were terrified! Rebel forces and government soldiers clashed in the street, and their school bus was caught in the crossfire!

When the smoke cleared, and the little ones dared raise up their heads from the floor where they’d cowered, they saw God had protected them: the bus was riddled with bullet holes, but not one of them had been hurt.

Juan Carlos and his familyThis is one of the memories Juan Carlos Gonzalez retains from the civil war in El Salvador when he was a boy, a student at a Latin America ChildCare school.

His other memories of that time are better — the time his Christmas gift from his sponsors was a new set of tennis shoes to replace the tattered footwear he’d patched together with cardboard inside, and the way his teachers showed him he could rely on Jesus.

Today, Juan Carlos is a missionary in Fukuoka, Japan, where he and his wife Colette have planted New Life Church. The lessons Juan Carlos learned from his minister father and Christian mom, not to mention from his Latin America ChildCare education, have made a tremendous impact in his ministry — especially now.

“The powerful 9.0 earthquake that brought a deadly tsunami destroyed homes and took lives just minutes after it happened,” he says, reflecting on the March 11 disaster.

“The Japan Assemblies of God was quick to respond and reached the most affected areas within hours. Today, we are still dealing with the nuclear disaster that makes it difficult to deal with relief and reconstruction.”

Although devastating for Japan, the disaster has also opened hearts to the Gospel, Juan Carlos believes.

“Japanese people are now coping with the question of life and death, and we hope to see a positive response to the message of Jesus Christ. We ask you continue praying for Japan, until all may come to the knowledge of Jesus.”

Juan Carlos Gonzalez, Missionary to Japan and Latin America ChildCare graduate. He’s impacting others with the Gospel message he received at school, and he’s grateful for the opportunity to do so.

“My dearest friends at LACC gave me a chance to dream,” he says.

This is what Latin America ChildCare does today, for some 100,000 children in 21 nations, in the poorest neighborhoods of Latin America and the Caribbean. Believers who sponsor the children have the joy of knowing they’re providing not only a great education, but also a clear presentation of the Gospel and a strong connection to a local church for their sponsored child.