Each Sunday, a group of seemingly random people gather in the third story of a building. They are all present to experience a church different from what they are used to, a church where they are invited to come as they are. On this particular morning, there are a couple of attendees who are there for the first time. A welcoming applause breaks out as Kerlyn introduces them to the group and L stands up to explain, “This is a group where the needs of each one of you become our needs.” The Peña family turns to smile at one another. In the beginning of El Aposento, L was captivated by the new opportunity to belong to a church community without quitting her job in the cigar industry. She proclaimed, “I love this. It is the best thing I have been a part of.” Today, she is a shepherd to said community by leading the youth, providing meals, and encouraging tired hearts. She has been transformed by the love of Christ.
P is sitting comfortably next to L. He is drinking a small coffee and laughing wildly at something someone has said. He talks to the group about the way that Christ is healing the brokenness of his life and marriage. He speaks up to the room and says, “I want to encourage you all to continue coming to meet with us. It is the times that I am lazy and do not want to come that God speaks to me the most. One day, my wife and I were fighting, and neither of us wanted to go meet for Bible study. Because we had made a commitment, we went anyway, and quickly learned that the subject we were discussing for the day was love. We immediately looked at each other and laughed. It was as if God knew we needed it.” He now invites friends to join him in his new community, knowing confidently that they will be embraced.
As the discussion ends, M gets up to help serve the sandwiches and soda that L brought for the group. Her face is lit with joy as she pours drinks with the other youth. They are a unified group who grew up in the same community and started attending El Aposento events because L told them to. M started attending quietly, soaking in the words of everyone around her. Not long after, she sought out mentorship and confided in leadership about difficulties she had been wrestling with in her day to day life. M realized the freedom that comes with vulnerability, with understanding that our struggles lose their strength when we have community fighting alongside of us. She speaks to the youth now about topics that most adults shy away from discussing and has been blessed with a depth and wisdom that leads her peers to understand complex topics. She is a new creation.
These are 3 of the 16 people who have decided to follow Christ in their lives since El Aposento started meeting. These individuals are a small stone being thrown onto the vast waters of Tamboril, rippling out endlessly through faith, service, and love.