Last year’s mega smash hit song “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi was filmed in the poor San Juan neighborhood of La Perla. A beautiful, iconic area just in front of the world-famous Spanish forts of San Cristóbal and El Morro, La Perla is a historic community with another side you don’t see in that famous music video: Poverty and urban blight. Most of the homes there are built without permits, on land the homeowners have no legal right to. In effect, it is a squatter’s community. Just steps from some of the most expensive and famous real estate in Puerto Rico – to say nothing of the world – La Perla deals with constant issues ranging from drug crime and poverty to the uncertainty that comes with lack of property ownership. In recent years, proposals have been floated to kick everyone out of their homes and build a private resort in the neighborhood.
We have gone in there many times to bring the message of hope in Jesus Christ and freedom from drug addictions. This month, our team from New York City (part of our Greater Works 2018 campaign) visited the community. We shared with drug addicts the message that “Jesus can break every chain!” President of Teen Challenge NYC, Pastor Jimmy Jack, preached a message called “You Are a Miracle!” and the TCNY Worship Team sang inspirational music that had everyone clapping along. Former World Cup soccer player David Hernández shared how he was rescued from drug addiction by Teen Challenge at an outreach in San Francisco 3 years ago then we gave away 4 bikes, 2 balls, chalk, Bibles and 50 boxes of food!
Pray for the dear people of La Perla. They are so close to our hearts and we know God wants to do a mighty work in that neighborhood.