"All my life, I have felt mercy and pain for the people living in poverty and felt angry for the social injustice, but without Jesus in my heart, I believed that socialism was the solution," Dr. Guerrero says. "After I received Jesus in 1998, my thinking changed, and I had the desire to help the people in need."
In 1999, Jose Luis was driving through Jalapa, Mexico, and a common sight struck him with new force. "I saw two children working in the street asking for money," he remembers. "I then decided to draw up a formal plan to help the children working in the streets." When he brought his plan to his church, it was accepted and supported. Dr. Guerrero soon felt God leading him to the community of El Por Venir, which means "The Future" in English.
In his spare time, Dr. Guerrero began his ministry work in a crumbling cinderblock shack located on one of the many steep streets of El Por Venir. Although this building had a leaky tin roof and a dirty floor, patients came to see Dr. Guerrero during his regular visits.
In 2002, a partnership with the Luke Society was formed and a small ministry center named Vida en Abundancia (Abundant Life) was built on a large piece of property with hopes for expansion. The new one-room cinderblock building was a big improvement as it had windows and a heavier metal roof. However, as word about Dr. Guerrero’s ministry spread around the community, the building was soon too small.
Construction still continues today, and the clinic has expanded to three stories, housing a kitchen and large eating area, classrooms, medical exam rooms, a dental area, offices, and a small outdoor area for children to play.
A typical day begins very early at Vida en Abundancia. The night watchman, Salvador, begins preparing breakfast at 6 a.m. At 7 a.m., Samuel, who is head of maintenance, joins the process by setting up tables, and then from 7-9:30, breakfast is served to the children. The menus for breakfast are created by Laura Garcia Cortez, a nutritionist who volunteers her time and expertise. The government provides vitamins, rice and beans for the children every month. To obtain fresh fruits and vegetables, staff members gather donated food at the local market.
Approximately of 25 children per day come to Vida en Abundancia for breakfast. The children come from poor families in El Por Venir. In most cases, the mother has already gone to work and is not there to prepare the meal, but usually families cannot afford to feed their children more than once a day.
As soon as the doors open to feed the children, patients begin coming to see the doctor. Because much of Dr. Guerrero’s time is spent on administrative duties, the clinic has hired another doctor: Dr. Eli Garcia Sanchez – a valuable asset to the ministry. "He is a young doctor, but a mature Christian man," Dr. Guerrero says. "In the ministry, he is a good doctor, and in addition, he takes special care of the children."
Patients are seen in a room directly next to the kitchen and eating area. A small examination table is tucked against the far wall by the window, and a tall scale stands on the other side of the room. In the middle of the long room is a desk with a typewriter. After assessing the patient, Dr. Jose Luis or Dr. Eli type out a prescription and instructions for the patient. A carbon copy is kept of each prescription, and patients must sign their name to signify they understand the instructions.
On the first floor of the new clinic, the classrooms are already finished and being used for the Scholarship Reinforcement Program. This program provides additional educational opportunities for the children of El Por Venir. Dr. Guerrero found teachers willing to volunteer their time to tutor children wanting extra help with their homework. The program runs for 25 weeks with an average of 33 students per month attending. There is a 90% attendance rate, and also 90% of the children attending the program pass to the next grade level at school with at least a B average.
Last year, God placed another burden on Dr. Jose Luis’s heart during breakfast. "I was reading the local newspaper when I saw a big report about a little town in the mountains near Jalapa where the children suffered from malnutrition and illnesses related with the weather," he says. "The newspaper included several pictures similar to those I saw earlier of children working in the street. I felt pain in my heart and heard a clear thought in my head, you should do something for these children."
Dr. Guerrero called the reporter who wrote the article and asked several questions about the people living in El Paisano. A few days later, Dr. Guerrero went to the village. "I could see the real situation of poverty and need in this community," he said.
The climate of the village is cold with high humidity. The houses are made of roughly hewn boards that leave gaping holes which don’t keep out the weather. The people try to dress warmly, but their tattered clothes offer little protection from the chilly wind. It was obvious to Dr. Guerrero that this community needed help, and when he discussed it with his staff, they were ready and willing to go.
When the Vida en Abundancia staff goes to El Paisano, they are prepared for hard work and a rewarding day. A donated 15-passenger van is loaded to capacity with volunteers, medical supplies, toys and clothes. The trip to the village is an hour by highway, followed by an abrupt turn onto a bumpy stone paved road. After another hour of rough travel, tempered by the sight of beautiful untouched forests, they finally arrive at El Paisano. The team sets up a temporary clinic in a small cinderblock building with two rooms. One room is quickly converted into a medical exam room. Lights are turned on and a cot is loaded down with blankets. The coffee pot in the corner is turned on. Numbers are scribbled onto pieces of paper and handed out to those already waiting in line.
At the end of the day, all of the toys and clothes have been distributed. All of the 52 patients have been seen, and most have been given medicine. The entire staff is exhausted, but the conversation is lively as they visit and eat supper in a villager’s home.
The Vida en Abundancia staff are only able to visit El Paisano every few months, which is not enough. They are currently surveying the community to find out its most pressing needs, and then plan to visit the community on a monthly basis.
It is exciting to think about the future of Vida en Abundancia and of the children in El Por Venir. It is an answer to the staff’s prayer that life is and will be different in the community. As the Holy Spirit continues to work in the hearts of the people in El Por Venir, the future will continue to be bright.