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Alex Guarerro and El Salvador

In 2017 we met Alex Guarerro during the launch of the Spanish translation of Live School. He shared his conversion story and convinced us to bring Live School to El Salvador, which we did a few months later.

It wasn’t until we stood on the top of a mountain several days into the trip that we saw the first white person in El Salvador besides those on our team. People don’t travel to El Salvador for tourism or business. It’s not really advised.

El Salvador feels almost muffled behind a violent gang culture and a corrupt political and judicial system. As we walked the streets, we didn’t see any open violence or extortion, but there was an oppressive feeling of hopelessness and fear that cuts through the shy smiles and long stares.

Here are some stories we heard of El Salvador’s culture:

  • A gang member wanted a daughter of a single woman as his girlfriend. When the girl refused, the gang threatened to kill the entire family for resisting. Thankfully, the family was able to relocate to Guatemala for a while, and they recently moved into a safe house in a mission compound. They loved the new house because they had never lived in a home with windows.
  • One pastor explained that the government is trying to crack down on the gangs, so anyone associated with a known gang member is liable for arrest. This means if a gang member walks into his church to learn about Jesus, the pastor could be arrested for “assisting” him.

But the violence and threats have not stopped the churches.

One pastor we trained lost two brothers to gang violence, but he will soon be running a school with seven ex-gang members who are now believers. He showed us a picture of one of the future students whose face is covered with blue tattoos. This man will now be trained as a missionary through Live School to take the gospel back into the gangs he came out of.

Alex himself grew up homeless in Los Angeles, got involved in gangs and drugs, and went to prison until he was deported to El Salvador. In El Salvador he repeated that lifestyle until he was radically saved in prison. Now, he works among juvenile prisoners in San Salvador – teaching them English, soccer, and most importantly, about Jesus.

In 2018, Alex started a Live School inside the boy’s juvenile prison with some of the young prisoners he has led to the Lord. After starting the school, 7 boys were baptized inside of the prison as they publicly professed accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

And there is another “unknown purpose” of God with these graduates of Live School. Many of these boys face a 60-70 year prison sentence, and when they turn 18, they must move to the adult prisons – prisons where no one is allowed in or out, including guards.

Alex’s hope and our prayer is to train these young men as missionaries who will go into a place that no one else can get into…and share the gospel.