Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Refugio de Esperanza

Pedro cooking a big skillet of Spanish paella, as we are celebrating after a baptism.

Doug giving a Bible study at the refuge, Pedro is the man with the beard, sitting next to his wife.

One of the most faithful men in our church, Pedro, is in charge of a men's home here in Tenerife called "Refugio de Esperanza" which means Refuge of Hope. Several years ago land was donated and a house erected for men who are transitioning from jail or prison, recovering from addictions, or just fallen upon hard times and need a place to live. Some men are immigrants who are working and need temporary housing until they get on their feet. Over the years it has ministered to hundreds of men who have passed through its doors.
As the name implies, its purpose is to offer hope to the men through the preaching and teaching of God's word, and the "good news" of the gospel, which has the power to change a man from within. Every morning Pedro meets with the men and teaches from the Bible, discipling them and giving guidance. He also tries to help them find work. They are also working on a project to build workshops where the men will learn skills from experienced tradesmen, which will help them gain employment. Right now unemployment in the Canary Islands is about 25 percent, so it is very discouraging, even for men who already have skills and have a strong desire to work.

The refuge operates by faith on a shoe string budget. Some of the men are working and contribute to the monthly expenditures. Pedro solicits food donations from grocery stores, food pantry ministries, and the Salvation Army. Some months they eat kilos of donated bananas--and in a good month they might have dozens of chickens or fish donated. It is either feast or famine depending on what is available.

Pedro is an excellent chef, so when they do have an abundance he makes restaurant quality cuisine. He has a vision to someday open a cafeteria where the men could work to supply the needs of the refuge, and build more housing--and even open a shelter for women which is a much needed ministry.

Pedro really has a heart for these men. He also has a burden for the homeless. He goes out every Saturday with Doug and ministers to the people on the street near the city mission. Occasionally he will make churros and hot chocolate and serve it to the people waiting outside the mission. He uses his own finances to supply needs, and gives his time freely to help those who are less fortunate than himself.
We are blessed to be a part of this endeavor, and Doug has helped in giving Bible studies on a weekly basis, and doing whatever he can to help lighten Pedro's load. He serves on the governing board which oversees and makes recommendations. It isn't always easy, as it takes a great deal of patience and at times there are setbacks and some of the men go back to their old way of living. Please pray for these men and for Pedro and his family; that the Lord will continue to bless and supply all their needs.

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