Eliberto and Molly Jamison Juárez, passionate peacemakers and educators, have been endorsed to serve with International Ministries (IM) as global servants in El Salvador.
The couple shares a strong commitment to peace and social transformation through the power of the gospel. The Juárezes are the first IM global servants to minister in this Central American country since former IM missionary, Kim Kushner Dominguez, served in both El Salvador and Cuba six years ago.
As IM global servants, the couple will continue their current ministry through Misión Vida y Paz (MVP) (Mission Life and Peace), a registered non-profit in El Salvador and a new IM partner. MVP, founded by Eliberto and Molly in 2015, is a peace-building and educational program based on biblical values that is being introduced in the public schools. Molly, a sociologist, and Eliberto, originally from El Salvador and experienced in theological training and community development, are working with volunteers from Salvadoran churches to implement the MVP curriculum. They seek to see churches living out their calling to bring God’s peace to children, families and communities.
“MVP is a practical response to violence, injustice and suffering in Salvadoran communities,” explained the couple. “Through education and formation, we can begin to build a community of people who believe that transformation is really possible. As we work together and strengthen our sense of identity as the church, we can dream of shalom, of the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10) here and now, in our homes, families, schools and churches. For us, this is living out the gospel.”
The MVP curriculum was developed by Eliberto and Molly along with members of the Salvadoran community, including pastors, educators and psychologists in response to widespread gang violence in the country. In 2015, 15 churches approached Eliberto asking for help to foster biblical values among the community members.
“In the past, the culture promoted Christian teaching inside the churches, but the values were not being practiced in the community,” said Eliberto. “After much discussion, the church leaders decided that the best place to plant the seeds of peace and conflict resolution would be in the public schools where the peace message could be disseminated widely — from children to parents to teachers and into the community.”
“Many people feel motivated and inspired to participate in MVP,” says Pastor Samuel Martinez, member of the MVP Board of Directors and longtime pastor with the Church of God in El Salvador. “Through MVP we now see youth participating in community clean-up, environmental care, reforestation, recycling projects and other worthy efforts.”
When speaking of her calling, Molly says, “In my deepest sense of purpose, I feel called to serve and be present to the needs and experiences of those around me. My passion for serving in Latin America has grown over the years through living and working in the Dominican Republic and El Salvador, and through my work with immigrants in Chicago and Washington D.C. God has formed me to identify strongly with Latino culture.”
“Molly and Eliberto tell us that they applied to serve with IM as Global Servants because of our missiology of coming alongside our brothers and sisters in other countries,” says the Rev. Dr. Rodney Ragwan, IM director of Mission Mobilization. “IM is pleased to affirm the Juarez’s calling and appointment. They bring passion and energy to this ministry.”
The couple was introduced to IM through a series of unexpected events. “After a full year of ministry with MVP, we began reaching out to our friends and family for networking advice and fundraising to support our new ministry. Through a series of surprising connections, we were eventually put in touch with Adalia Gutiérrez-Lee, IM area director for Iberoamerica and the Caribbean,” says Eliberto.
“I immediately felt deeply connected with Molly and Eliberto’s longing for God’s peace in El Salvador during our first skype conversation a couple of years ago,” said Gutiérrez-Lee. “How wonderful that Christian values, including loving God’s Creation and one another, are nurturing hope for new generations in El Salvador.”
The Juárez family lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and are members of the First Baptist Church of Silver Spring. Eliberto works as a teaching assistant at The Family Place, and Molly is an outreach and registration specialist at Briya Public Charter School, both in Washington, D.C. They are fluent in Spanish and English. After the couple raises their required personalized support, they will move to El Salvador.
Eliberto’s children, Luis Enrique (15) and Alicia Sofia (13) live in El Salvador and will serve with the Juárezes.
The Juarezes are working now to build their Mission Partnership Team and raise the funds needed for their ministry in El Salvador.
“I cannot wait to see how this partnership [with IM] opens doors to greater opportunities for this ministry of peace and transformation in El Salvador,” says Molly.