Throughout her life she learned to build up defenses to protect herself. At 17, she had a daughter outside of marriage. The boy who had shown such interest before pregnancy was now gone like a scared cat. When she turned to her family for support, she received shame instead. They provided a roof over her head but withheld much of the support, love, and approval she craved. For Amparito, her final teenage years went from carefree concerns to night school and a job to support her daughter.
At the end of her thirteen-hour work days, Amparito would often come home to see her daughter perched on the outside steps—alone and waiting.
Her workplace only reinforced how vulnerable she was. The jeers and physical advances of male coworkers kept her on constant guard. She defended herself at every turn. It seemed no one else would. Time and again, she felt used, discarded, unsupported, and ashamed.
In spite of the waves of disappointment, Amparito kept a vigilant lookout for something different. She still longed for relationships that offered love, care, and the freedom to be herself. When her daughter was nine, Amparito began dating Fernando. After three short months of courtship, they married. She hoped her marriage to Fernando would heal her relational wounds. But her expectations went unfulfilled. Fernando loved her, but could not fill the void she felt.
Something changed when Amparito later began additional studies at a local institute. Her timid smile and downcast eyes kept classmates at a safe distance. But three fellow students managed to break through her guarded heart. Something about these three friends was different. She felt safe and accepted. As their friendship blossomed, Amparito went with them to a women’s gathering at Cumbayá Church.
Here she found herself surrounded by women who extended the same acceptance, love, and care as her three friends. Even in the face of such love, Amparito still struggled to shake her defensive suspicion. She wondered if it was an act to get something from her. All her life, people took from her. Could this church be different?
Over the next four years, the Lord used the Cumbayá Church to soften her skepticism. God began to heal her heart scarred by years of disappointment. She found forgiveness for herself in Jesus. And she discovered the power to forgive others out of the Lord’s forgiveness.
She grew deeply in her faith through the patient and loving discipleship of Mayra Giacometti, the wife of Cumbaya’s senior pastor.
Today, the once closed-off Amparito opens her heart weekly. She disciples groups of women through the Cumbayá Church and its sister church, Puembo—a miraculous turnaround for a wounded, timid introvert. Even her husband Fernando trusted in Christ through the Bible Academy ministry of the church.
The love of Christ continues to transform Amparito. She now has a Savior who never looks to take from her. Instead, he gave everything up for her.
Thanks for helping change Amparito’s life and others like her. Your prayers and support empower dynamic churches like Cumbayá. And the Lord is using these churches to transform lives in the influential urban centers of Latin America. Even if Amparito has never met you, you’ve been the kind of gracious, generous friend she’s longed for her whole life. You helped introduce her to the One True Friend she needed most.