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Castles and Jewels

El Salvador

Don Triplett stood on a sidewalk in San Salvador, El Salvador, staring at the crumpled, bloodied bodies of four child guerillas — three boys and one girl. They were all about 14 years old. It was 1989, and the country’s brutal civil war was dragging to an end after nearly 12 years.

Don and his wife, Terri, had arrived in El Salvador as AG missionaries just a few months earlier. After a night of especially violent fighting and bombing, Don went to assess the damage to his neighborhood. It was then that he stumbled upon the four bodies.

Something snapped in Don as he stood on the sidewalk that day. Turning to the bodies, he said, “It is too late for you, and for that I am so sorry. But I solemnly pledge to reach the children of El Salvador so they do not have to enter eternity the way you did.”

Now, almost three decades later, Don and Terri’s ministry to El Salvador’s children has exploded. King’s Castle — a network of discipleship training and outreach ministries they established — now includes 7,400 Salvadoran workers and 30,000 youth helpers spread across 29 countries worldwide.

Pearls of Great Price

In August 2004, Don experienced a vivid series of visions. A window opened in the sky and angels descended, carrying enormous jars of gems.

“The angels began pouring the gems all over the ground,” Don says. “I thought it meant we were going to get a financial blessing. But the Holy Spirit immediately corrected me, saying, ‘These are not treasures as you think. These are pearls of great price like a treasure buried in the field. Every precious jewel represents a child. I am asking you to clean up every jewel and give it back to Me.’”

Don looked around and was crushed. Millions of jewels had fallen — so many that a 27-kilometer radius around Lake Coatepeque, a huge crater lake east of San Salvador, was covered in jewels at least three feet thick.

The next day at the exact same time, Don had the same vision. But this time, a few people were with him to help.

The third day at the same time, Don again saw angels descend from heaven and pour out countless jewels, but even more people were at his side to assist him. Together they retrieved the gems, cleaned them, and handed them to Jesus.

Guardians of
the Vision

Seventeen years prior to this vision, Don and Terri had gathered Sunday School leaders from across El Salvador for training in a new outreach ministry they had founded called King’s Castle. At the meeting, the Tripletts divided the map of El Salvador into 34 sections and gave a piece to each leader.

As the group prayed and cried together over their bits of the map, something special was planted.

King's Castle members prepare for an outreach.
King's Castle members prepare for an outreach.
Today, King’s Castle discipleship groups in El Salvador are primarily connected to local churches rather than geographical regions and are directed by national leadership.

“From the beginning, King’s Castle has been evolving to suit the needs before us,” Don continues. “The Lord showed us a concept that we call a Generational Volunteer Pentecostal Movement. Youth are discipled and share the gospel with children, who then grow into youth who reach other children, and so on. These Guardians of the Vision are capable disciples of Jesus even at very young ages. Amazing things are happening as these children of the Spirit grow to become leaders, missionaries, evangelists and pastors.”

Building the Castle

The hubs of the King’s Castle ministry are the Dream Center — the Tripletts’ tent church that sits on 14 acres and its nine annexes across El Salvador — and the International Training Center at Lake Coatepeque, the same place Don saw in his vision of angels pouring gems from the sky.

At the International Training Center, fish, pigs, chickens and sheep are raised, and horses graze on the picturesque mountainside. The animals are part of an endeavor designed to produce food and give agricultural training for students of Last Harvest School of Missions — a group of college-age youth who plan to become missionaries overseas. Currently 85 students from nine countries are enrolled in the program.

Carefully tended gardens provide food for Last Harvest students as well as a feeding program hosted at the center three days per week. The Tripletts also oversee nine other feeding programs scattered throughout the area.

“The feeding programs were born out of need,” Don says. “Rabid dogs were eating from the trash bins on campus and threatening people. I wanted to put poison in the trash, but a mother from the mountain came and said, ‘Please don’t put poison in there. That is where our children eat.’ So I started a feeding program.”

Need also inspired the implementation of a medical clinic at the training center. Staffed by medical personnel Boris Magana, Abby Richardson, and Tammy Ogden, the clinic is equipped for wound care, ultrasounds, minor surgeries, and more.

At the heart of the International Training Center is the prayer fortress. Constructed to look like an actual castle, it overlooks the entire campus. Round-the-clock prayer has continued uninterrupted inside the fortress since October 31, 1998 — the night Hurricane Mitch laid much of Central America to ruin.

The prayers of believers at the fortress concern not only El Salvador, but also the world. On a daily basis, students carefully take out flags of the world and intercede for the nations they represent.

“Today Is a Good
Day to Die”

Jorge had no father while growing up. In El Salvador, having a father present — or even knowing who your father is — is unusual. But Jorge’s life grew more complicated after he contracted polio as a child and was left unable to walk without assistance. The breaking point came when his mother abandoned him.

As a young teen Jorge spent two years searching for her — traveling all the way to San Diego, California, where he lived three months in a park. When at last he located his mother, she shunned him, sending him on a spiral into darkness.

After joining a notorious international gang, Jorge became a cold, violent murderer. He trafficked weapons and drugs and partnered with the Colombian mafia. Along with tremendous financial success, he enjoyed the power of terrorizing people into submission. He gave his soul to the devil and urged other young men to do the same as he taught them to drink, abuse, kill, and use drugs.

Jorge came from seemingly hopeless circumstances and now serves as a missionary with the El Salvador AG.
Jorge came from seemingly hopeless circumstances and now serves as a missionary with the El Salvador AG.
By the time he was in his early 20s, Jorge had been in jail in multiple countries and experienced many attempts on his life. Finally, while locked in his El Salvador apartment alone, he decided to kill himself.

“I heard the voice of the devil telling me he wanted my blood that night,” Jorge recalls. “I saw a vision as clear as day: I was to take the double-edged knife I already had in my hand, plunge it into my chest, and rip out my own heart. Then I was to present it to Satan and die. So I decided to do it.”

But the devil was denied his thirst for blood that night.

“I saw a great flash of light and instantly I went to sleep sitting in my chair,” Jorge continues.

When he awoke, his hands were firmly tied behind his back and his feet were bound. No earthly explanation was ever discovered for how it happened.

After hours of internal struggle, Jorge sought out a pastor he and his gang had been terrorizing. He talked for three hours.

When Jorge fell silent, the pastor said gently, “Your life is gone. Only God can make you happy now.”

Jorge was stunned. Years before when he was living in the park in San Diego, a man had boldly witnessed to him using those very words.

 Falling on his knees, Jorge wept before God and stood up a changed man.

The pastor then made this bold confession: “Jorge, you’re a new creation. One day I will see you preaching the gospel!”

By 1994 Jorge had graduated from Last Harvest and received his ministerial license. He married, served as a missionary to Panama, and is now preparing to serve in an extremely gospel-resistant country.

Though his commitment to Christ routinely puts his life at stake, Jorge is not afraid. His eyes sparkle as he says coolly, “Today is a good day to die.”

But clearly his work on earth is not over. Once a band of men from his past caught up to Jorge and shot him at the back of his skull, just above the nape of his neck. The bullet shattered as though it hit steel, leaving only a small flesh wound. Don and Terri sat with him at the hospital as the doctor pronounced the situation an unexplainable miracle.

Legacies

“Around 400,000 gangsters — like Jorge used to be — are in El Salvador,” Don states. “They are working to train young people and use them to create legacies.

Jorge came from seemingly hopeless circumstances and now serves as a missionary with the El Salvador AG.
But the legacies created by gangs are those of violence, terror, and ultimate destruction.

The legacies created by King’s Castle, however, are those of hope, restoration and salvation. Children and youth are of utmost importance and value.

In some families, King’s Castle has affected two or even three generations. To Don and Terri, this intergenerational aspect of their ministry is vital, both for solidarity and for continuation.

Jeremias BolaƱos, general superintendent of the El Salvador AG, tears up as he acknowledges that his grandchildren are fifth-generation Pentecostal believers. He has been preaching the message of Jesus for well over 50 years and has been involved with King’s Castle ministries almost since its conception.

Jewels

As Don’s vision represents, every child in El Salvador is a jewel beyond price. Every child is worthy of love, hope, salvation, and a place in the legacy of Christ. And through the Tripletts’ labor of faith, multitudes of children have offered themselves back to God for His use.

Missionary Don Triplett enjoys interacting with the children on the King's Castle grounds.
Missionary Don Triplett enjoys interacting with the children on the King's Castle grounds.
“These kids pray, preach, testify, and have faith to expect God to do miracles and cast out demons,” Don and Terri say. “We see them as Holy Spirit-filled missionaries of the future — taking the power of Pentecost to generations we will never know.”

KRISTEL ORTIZ

is a staff writer for
AGWM Communications.

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