The disasters of the last week bring into sharp focus the plight of the poor in El Salvador. It has been said that in such storms, "the rich get wet and the poor drown." This reflection from Rev. Hector Fernandez, Rector of the Lutheran University in El Salvador, says it well:
From the Poor to the Poor, from the People to the People
Excerpts from a reflection in response to the Scripture reading for October 9th.You are a refuge for the scorned, a help for the poor in their misery, you serve as a protection for the rain and a shade for the heat. – Isaiah 25:4.The biggest threat from the rains has passed, and we begin to catch a glimpse of the consequences. The structural sin of our country has again been made evident: years and years of a dominant system has shown today with great conclusiveness what it is to live in El Salvador as a poor person.
The reality strikes us brutally: these last events have provoked a deepening of poverty. Soon numbers and data will arrive that reflect the suffering. What will follow is a social, political and economic plea to those who have in their hands the ability to humanize this country... A large number of human beings survive, sustained by faith in God and a dream to live. It is this faith and this dream that fortifies people to continue fighting for their lives.
Some people in the past weeks have said that poverty is diminishing in El Salvador, without mentioning that many of the poor are being forced to migrate to the United States since they cannot envision success in their future in El Salvador. Already it has been very difficult to live in this country: today with the rain, the situation with the volcano in Santa Ana, the rising prices of fuel, and the earthquake, reality is even more difficult. In this situation the poor turn to the people in the government when...the problems produced by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and the earthquakes in 2001 have not been resolved.
As a pastor, I cannot keep quiet about the situation, especially in moments like these when I feel compelled to be consistent with the Gospel and faithful to the prophetic Word...
I consider it important that we remember, in this context, the words of Isaiah, God is our refuge. We put our faith in God, God who has already saved us in many situations, God who has made it possible for a people who have been historically crucified to revive themselves in the faith of men and women who survive and maintain smiles in the midst of so many situations that threaten their lives.
We call to our people to say that the hope of salvation does not come in political parties, nor in politics that use the name of God in vain, nor in institutions or people that look for their own gains. Faith and liberation come exclusively from God who exists and is incarnated in men and women who identify with the God of history, the God who liberated those in Egypt from oppression, the God who vindicated the poor, the women, the children, and all the excluded through the words and actions of Jesus, and who today walks with the people in an effort to develop economic resources, with the Christian resources of faith, hope, and love.
We ask that God continue to accompany us in our long walk, in times when we are under the sun and others under the rain. With God always in front and above us, our hearts are sure and our minds are clear that God will guide and help us so that everyone will wake up and walk into complete salvation. We will walk towards a future in which no one is less fortunate than others and is not helped by others. With solidarity, the sisterhood of the poor with the poor, there is refuge for every person who today cries and suffers, and who will come into the banquet and reign of God.
Translation by SHARE Foundation intern, Claire Mack.