Jobless neighbors in San José experiences miracles through prayer
This story was originally published in Servant Partners' 2020 Annual Report, which can be read here.
Immediately after the COVID-19 pandemic touched California, San José became a flashpoint for infections. Servant Partners staff Jairo and Lourdes Sarmiento felt the economic and health impacts ripple through their low-income, immigrant neighborhood. “Our community lives to work,” Lourdes said. “Without jobs, they suffer.”
In November 2018, Jairo and Lourdes met for prayer with Angela and Brett, friends from a local church. God gave them a vision for a medical clinic offering holistic healing through medical care, spiritual care, cultural care, and financial aid to neighbors. With divine provision, they launched Healing Grove Health Center just as the pandemic began, where Jairo and Lourdes offered pastoral care as known and trusted leaders in the neighborhood. They also initiated a prayer hotline for community members to call with any prayer requests and needs. Since its start in March, Healing Grove has prevented 820 families from becoming homeless through rental assistance, provided nearly 40,000 grocery boxes to families facing hunger, and given away $6 million in financial aid. Shalom Iglesia, the Servant Partners church partner that Jairo and Lourdes pastor, has also sacrificially given away nearly $100,000 in rental assistance to community members in San José.
Lourdes routinely helps neighbors with applying for financial aid at the clinic, ending each application by offering a time of prayer for them and their needs. For many in desperation, these prayer times have opened opportunities to encounter God’s peace. When residents receive the aid they applied for, Lourdes reminds them, "This is how Jesus loves you."
María* was one neighbor who applied for financial aid. She and her husband both lost their jobs and were struggling to provide for their five children. Lourdes helped María finish her application and offered her prayer. Previously, María did not want anything to do with God, but her recent situation left her desperate; she prayed with Lourdes and trusted in God. A few days later, María learned that she would be receiving more than $11,000 in financial aid and broke down in tears.
"For María, it was more about trusting in God than it was about the money," Lourdes reflected. "When someone stole her purse a few weeks after, she approached me for prayer, believing that God was the one who would give her peace. She did all the things one typically does after losing their purse—reporting it, calling the bank, and visiting the DMV—but most importantly, she came to a place where she knew she could meet with God. That is a miracle." Like María, people often arrive at the clinic without hope. Some simply call the prayer hotline longing to be heard, and are met with prayer, encouragement, and hope. Though Healing Grove has given away millions in financial aid, neighbors are receiving something much more meaningful: Jesus. Through Jairo and Lourdes' ministry at the clinic, 25 people have received Jesus and four have found themselves reconciling with God.
"It is a historic time to share the good news about salvation to a world in crisis," Jairo reflected. Jairo, Lourdes, and their whole family recently had COVID-19 and believe it has enabled them to better understand how to care for others. "In the midst of joy for those receiving Christ and grief from the passing of loved ones, we are able to faithfully fulfill the mission that God has called us to.”
"It is a historic time to share the good news about salvation to a world in crisis."
*Names have been changed for privacy and security reasons.