Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lovelink Mission Continues in El Salvador

What do you say when you are looking at over 350 prison hardened gang members?  Sam Hawkins, founder of Lovelink, says the first thing that pops into his heart. "I love you, and you, and you."  Such was the scene at one of El Salvador's prisons last fall.

Hawkins answered the call with other missionaries to start a new prison ministry in the Central American country.

Hawkins said, "I'm always looking for more challenges to serve the Lord.  It broke my heart to see these boys, some as young as 16 who are in prison because they joined a gang. They wanted to belong to a family."

The day of Hawkins first visit to the prison, which houses the meanest gangs in El Salvador, was also the day a prison lock down occurred. The prison officials had received word of a riot that was planned inside the prison. The prison directors did not want the missionaries to enter.

After Hawkins and the other missionaries finally received permission to continue and had passed through several checkpoints, the last guard, who had fear etched onto his face. said, "I won't be responsible."

The missionaries, accompanied by ex-gang members who have since given 
their lives to God, entered the block where more than 350 gang members waited for them. Hawkins recalled the massive intensity of the hostility he felt. He recounted that he "walked with the authority and in the Spirit of the Lord."

"I love you," he said as he looked into the prisoners' lonely eyes. These men all know the power of the law and of judgement. They watched and listened as Hawkins continued, "I love you. Who is this white haired man standing in front of you? I have white hair. I'll be your grandfather, your family."

Hawkins and the other missionaries had to then explain how it was they could love these men through Christ.

The prisoners who have found forgiveness and the Lord are mighty worshippers. They raise their tatoo filled hands, sing songs and praise God as the tears course down their faces. They understand judgement. They understand forgiveness.

Hawkins continues to cross the line in faith and find what he knows. God will always provide for him when he does.

The First Presbyterian Church in Peachtree City is sponsoring a mission trip to Lovelink in El Salvador in February.

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