College Dedication was packed. [All photos by Micah Bowman and Bill Greenly]

May 2, 2024

Michigan and Indiana Churches Aid Building of El Salvador College

In the heart of El Salvador lies a story of faith and commitment in the inception of Adventist mission. In the 1940s, Orley and Lillian Ford, guided by their unwavering spirit and bravery, pioneered the Adventist work in the country.

Through their efforts, numerous congregations were established, and countless lives were touched by their service in medical missionary work. Their legacy was continued by their son Elden and his wife Vanessa, who launched the ECAS elementary and academy, positively impacting thousands of young lives. However, despite these strides, Salvadorian students still faced the challenge of traveling to Costa Rica for Adventist college education, a financial burden for many low-income families. 

El Salvadorian Welcome for the missionaries.
El Salvadorian Welcome for the missionaries.

Imagine if there existed a Seventh-day Adventist College in El Salvador, catering to these young individuals and preparing them for the great commission.  

For the past four years, the Village Seventh-day Adventist Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan, alongside Reachout Ministry, has spearheaded an initiative to establish the first Adventist College in El Salvador. Collaborating with pastors, laymen, businessmen, and contractors, the group engaged with Union and local conference officials, as well as local authorities. Despite challenges, including the pandemic, numerous construction mission trips were conducted, progressing the work significantly. 

In March 2024, during the annual spring break mission trip to El Salvador, approximately 240 dedicated missionaries from the Village Church, as well as churches in the Michigan and Indiana Conferences, embarked on a journey of service. Joining them were notable figures such as Ohio Conference President Bob Cundiff and Lake Union Conference President Ken Denslow. After four years of relentless effort, the Orley Ford Mission College building, adjacent to the ECAS academy, was completed and dedicated on March 16, coinciding with the first Sabbath of the mission trip. 

The mission trip encompassed various projects, including laying blocks for a bunkhouse, painting, providing medical and dental care, conducting Vacation Bible School (VBS), and visiting prisons.  

Led by Pastor Junior Vertus, the VBS engaged 225 children in spiritual lessons and interactive activities centered around the creation week and the significance of the Sabbath. The success of VBS was evident as children eagerly expressed their desire for a return visit next year. 

The medical and dental clinic, renovated over the past year, served nearly 200 patients, with an additional 58 receiving care from Andrews University physical therapy staff and students.  

Through providential intervention, Pastor Dennis Page was given access to the rarely visited El Salvadoran prison system as he distributed literature and brought hope to inmates, including gang leaders and those sentenced to life imprisonment. He distributed Spanish Bibles, Steps to Christ, and the Great Controversy, along with his book, A Drop of Grace. 

Pastor Ron Kelly emphasizes the long-lasting impact of church-based mission trips. His experience has taught him that “it binds the church together in a way that gives blessings long after the trip is over, and has the power to connect people across generations.” This is one of the key reasons the Village Church does mission work. The efforts of volunteers and the support of the church community in El Salvador are poised to transform lives, leaving behind a legacy of love and hope that only eternity can fully reveal. 

Kutlo Penelope Lekwapa is a media intern at the Village Church.