David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


With their ancestral lands lost to the Spanish conquerors, the indigenous were at the mercy of the plantation owners and their managers. The owners allowed the indigenous to live on the land for work. They were fed and received modest wages when profits surged.

During poor times if a field worker complained he or she received the wrath of the mayor who would dispatch troops to keep the workers in line by beating, dismemberment, death, disappearance. When the indigenous told their priest of their plight, the priest told the workers their rewards were in heaven and to accept their plight.

With the collapse of the coffee prices during the depression of the 1930’s, the situation deteriorated to the point of civil war. Communism was gaining popularity around the world and El Salvador was no exception. A communist FMLN led a rebellion in the West of the country. The government troops stopped this rebellion by killing the fighters, their families, their communities; it was an ethnic cleansing, 32,000 people were slaughtered. From this point forward the documented indiscriminate killing of men and women is common knowledge and recorded in many periodicals and museums. The church remained steadfast in its position.

A new breed of priest began to take the message of the gospel to the rural people. What they heard from the people and what they witnessed caused them to rise up and question what the church had been teaching. The church was receiving complaints from the plantation owners, political powers, priests and the common man. When it was time for a new leader, Romero was appointed to be Archbishop of San Salvador. The church, political and economic powers breathed a sigh of relief: “We can control him”.

With the assassination of Father Rutilio Grande, an activist priest, Romero is transformed. His passion for the oppressed and marginalized, the rich and powerful flourished within him. He was the Archbishop of all Salvadorans. Romero preached God’s Word in application: this is how God’s people should live together. Romero was more on the order of John the Baptist. Each broke the mold by breaking out of 500 years of silence and sharing good news.

In death, Romero’s popularity and message continue. Our hearts are touched by Romero’s transformation, his courage and the continued strength of God’s voice that flowed freely from his heart during his time of persecution. Romero is contagious, study with care.

David y Nancy

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rio Grande III

Currently, some of the most stunning civic lessons in the US and in the world are playing out daily before our eyes. With the internet we are able to watch the action live from our home. Witnessing protests and conflicts reveal much human and social turmoil along with an intense desire for change.

The cost of conflict is often a loss of income, family, homes and lives. We watch it unfold via the TV or internet where the voices of victims are muted from our ears to hear. We need to use all our senses when watching the news to fully understand the impact on the protesters, victims, and the innocent.

Civic activity in El Salvador has another aspect to it: fear. Many times the vulnerable are at risk of losing any security they have, regardless of how insecure it is. They may be squatters or without an official ID card, therefore they are insignificant in the eyes of the government.

The action plan from the last meeting for the Rio Grande communities included a delegation of 10 leaders meeting with a government minister in San Salvador Monday February 28. Oikos representative Guillermo indicated that the plans for 10 leaders meeting with a government ministry were not solidified among the community leaders and they were not able to organize themselves for the meeting on Monday morning. Instead Guillermo himself met with an Assemblyman of the national government in Usulután.

To visit the Assembly, one must sign a document and register their ID number, their home location, their signature or thumb print if unable to write. By fighting for the safety of the families and homes, they could lose everything--- by the government sending in troops and machinery to remove families and destroy homes resolving the problem for the government. This is possibly why the meeting planned for Monday did not happen.

Now the community leaders are being coached in “Plan B” which is to continue organizing to be an effective presence applying pressure for risk protection along the Rio Grande and to begin now with small steps such as requesting bags and sand to make barriers for their homes and roads.

Daily the weather grows hotter and more humid. Clouds are increasingly visible as they form to the north in the mountains between El Salvador and Honduras. The locals know that this heat brings the winter rains. Talk is already about when the rains will begin.

In two weeks, another meeting is scheduled with the leaders of communities and the government. We hope to be there to witness civic action on a simpler untelevised level as residents struggle for government agreement and movement toward safety.

David y Nancy