Her husband hit Maria Elena, as he screamed abuse at her. Between the blows, she caught sight of her children huddled in a corner—tears streaming down their little faces. She couldn’t let this continue; she might die and then what would happen to the children? She knew someone who could fix it—for a price. But the price was so much greater than money. Even so, Maria Elena’s mind was made up. She would pay a man to murder her husband.

Eliseo laughed as he ran around and played with the other children at the church. His mum, Maria Elena, was there for the Child Survival Program. Wendy was showing the mums how to prepare nutritious meals for their babies. This was a happy place for Eliseo; such a contrast from the agony he endured at home.

Wendy saw the bruises on Maria Elena’s face and the pain in her heart. As the implementer at the Compassion Child Survival Program, Wendy prayed for all the mums and regularly visited each one of them at home. But she knew Maria Elena needed more. Whenever she could, Wendy visited Maria Elena, read the Bible with her and prayed. They became great friends.

Maria Elena, Eliseo  and Wendy

Wendy loved to see how determined Maria Elena was to care for her children. She worked hard as a housekeeper, selling peanuts and doing laundry. With less than US$4 a day for her whole family, Maria Elena fought hard to scrape together enough to feed her family and even save some money for the children’s education. Her three beautiful children, Franchesca, Eliberto and Eliseo, were her reason for living.

After another vicious attack from her husband, Maria Elena thought she found the perfect solution to free her and her children from the violence and drunkenness they endured. She was told of a man who, for the price of $65, would kill him. With her entire savings in her hand, she uttered words that she could hardly believe she was saying, “can you get rid of my husband?”

“When do you want me to do this?” he asked. “The sooner the better,” said Maria Elena. The man laughed scornfully. He could see she was desperate and knew he had a chance to make more money. He asked for $89 to do the job.

With her plan in ruins, Maria Elena was furious but determined to find some way out. She only knew one place to turn. Her friend, Wendy, would know what to do. As Maria Elena told Wendy the story, the weight of what she was hearing reduced Wendy to tears. She begged Maria Elena to change her mind and let God find a better solution. But Maria Elena wouldn’t budge. Her husband had to leave—one way or another—and she wanted it to happen now. Wendy prayed for her friend; only God could help her now.

On the same day, Maria Elena received a special invitation to an evangelistic rally in a nearby church. As she entered the church, the pastor seemed to speak directly to her. She was astounded that God could direct this pastor to say the very words to change her mind. Maria Elena immediately surrendered her life to Jesus.

Maria Elena now knew the strength and love of Jesus and had the power to make wise decisions. She made the decision not to have her husband murdered, even though he continued to abuse her. “… if I didn’t have the Lord in my life, I don’t know where I would be,” Maria Elena says.

Three months after she gave her life to Jesus, Maria Elena’s husband flew into a rage against her and their daughter, Franchesca. He tried to kill them but they escaped his grasp and ran to the police. Maria Elena’s husband was arrested and sent to prison. When he was freed, he didn’t return to his family.

Maria Elena is now free from the violence. She works hard to support her family but with the love of God in their home, they no longer feel the shame and hopelessness of poverty. Compassion has helped them to get rid of the emotional wounds and also repaired their house. They attend a church where they are cared for and Maria Elena earns extra income by cleaning the church. Her children are growing up safe and happy; knowing that Jesus knows them, loves them and will always be there for them.

Eliberto, Eliseo and Franchesca

Eliseo has graduated from the Child Survival Program and has been accepted into the Compassion Child Sponsorship Program. Maria Elena is participating in vocational courses to learn sewing, crafts, manicure and pedicure. These skills will help her increase her income. She is still good friends with Wendy. “To me, Wendy is the mother I’ve never had,” she says.

You can donate to Mums and Babies to support the Child Survival Program and release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Words by Yrahisa E. Mateo Solano and Vivienne Hughes

Photos by Yrahisa E. Mateo Solano

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