Can you imagine immigrating from Central America to Europe? Because of growing violence among youth in El Salvador, immigrating to Spain is exactly what Shelvi did. A young woman from El Salvador, Shelvi came to Spain to start a new life and find a safe place for her two children. She came alone, started to work and planned to save money to bring her children from El Salvador as soon as possible. Her beautiful daughter was finishing high school and preparing to go to college, and her son was starting high school.
By January 2019, Shelvi had nearly reached the savings she needed for her children to join her in Spain. But on January 21, she received the tragic news that her daughter had been assaulted by a young gang member and had died. The perpetrator was arrested by the police and put in prison. But Shelvi’s pain was unbearable, and she grew bitter toward God.
My husband, Camilo, and I met Shelvi at the park in Mar de Cristal – Madrid/ Spain, where we started to plant a new church. We could sense the pain and bitterness in her heart. Still, week after week she came to listen to the Word of God and receive our love and prayers. Slowly we saw that God was transforming her heart. The process of forgiveness was beginning. One day Shelvi said, “I must forgive him (the young man who killed my daughter) because God forgave me of all my sins.”
Shelvi went back to El Salvador in 2021. She visited her daughter’s grave and decided to write a letter to the young man who killed her. The letter was posted in a local newspaper. She wrote to him about the pain he had inflicted on her and told him how she could forgive him because Christ had forgiven her. Shelvi explained that even though the man was in jail, he could experience spiritual freedom and peace in his heart. She asked him to seek the Lord because He is the only One Who can redeem our lives. She explained that only Jesus could give him hope and peace. Shelvi ended her letter with Psalms 139:23-24:
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
We know God is working in Shelvi’s life and has a beautiful future for her and her family. Even though she misses her daughter immensely, her face is now full of joy and peace, and her heart is filled with forgiveness that only comes through Jesus.