Wednesday, July 19, 2017

When God Shouts

Sometimes God whispers, sometimes He shouts. Stick with me for a few minutes, and I will explain how He recently shouted.

Last week we hosted a medical missions team from Project Re:3 and Element Church in North Carolina. I can tell you that it was a great and exhausting week as we held three medical clinics in the Department of Esquintla. I should also mention that this week was made even sweeter because my sister, Kathy, and brother-in-law, Bob, was a part of the team.

On Monday we were in the town of Las Palmas, and we were swamped. We arrived to see a line of people waiting to be seen. Our clinic opened with prayer at 9:00 am, and we saw our last patient at 6:00 pm. And in between we treated an estimated 250 people. Between the heat and the very long day, our entire team was wiped out. But the day was also filled with so much joy. 

Las Palmas is a remote village, and there is a lot of poverty there. Imagine having a family and knowing that, if one of you gets sick, you have no resources for treatment. That desperation drove many to wait from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm to see our group for treatment. We take so much for granted.

On Wednesday and Friday we did clinics on the edge of the dump in Esquintla. And, as poor as Las Palmas is, this region is poorer. There is so much malnutrition among children and adults, and many die from a lack of medical care. We did our clinics in cooperation with a ministry called Building Guate, a wonderful Christ-following organization that serves families surrounding the dump. They provide lunches each day and an after school program. They have also recently built a medical clinic, in which we were working.

At one point on Wednesday I took a break and was praying as I looked over the property and saw families walking through the dump looking for food and items they could use or sell. And I felt the Lord speak and tell me that this was the region in which we were supposed to begin our Maternity Care Ministry.

As many of you know, Stephanie Konrad will be joining us soon as a midwife. Her role will be to train midwives and establish birthing centers in communities. Through these centers we will provide care to pregnant women, safe and clean birthing areas, trained midwives, and education and resources to new moms. This will greatly reduce the infant mortality rate of the region as well as reducing the rate of special needs. It seemed apparent that the area around the dump was the perfect region to begin this work.

So, I spoke with the Director of Building Guate, Oscar Palencia, about the possibility. Immediately he lit up and told me that it aligned perfectly with their vision. He offered me the use of their clinic as a birthing center or, if I preferred, the use of phase two of their construction, which already has footers laid. He told us we could build to our specifications there.

As I left that day, I felt a strong sense that this direction was from the Lord, but committed myself to pray about it more. Little did I know that the answer I was seeking would come quickly and through a shout.

Now, flashback to about six months ago. I had a dream in which I was in a van with a team from the US. We were going to visit families in a rural village that I did not recognized, and I had to pull over and park, because the road was too rough for the van. I parked on the left side of the road, grabbed my medical bag, and began to walk with the team. 

We had only gone a few steps when a man emerged from a home on the right side of the road, yelling. He told me that his wife was in labor and asked me to help. I ran inside and began delivering the baby. Then I woke up. I was struck immediately with how vivid and detailed the dream was, and told several people about it. But I quickly moved on and forgot about it…until Friday.

On Friday we returned to Building Guate for another day of clinics. Again, we were busy, but the day was going smoothly. Then late morning a lady came to the clinic who had been there on Wednesday with her husband. She was concerned about him and asked us to come to her house to check on him. She only lived about 200 meters away, so I grabbed my medical bag and Taryn and I walked with her. 

We went out the gates of the ministry and turned left, something I had never done before. Prior to this, we always arrived at the ministry from the right and then left the same way we came. I had never been on the road to the left. But we had only walked a short distance when I suddenly realized that I had been there before. Everything was familiar…every detail. Yet I knew I had never gone that way before.

And suddenly, it hit me. This was the road from my dream! Every single detail! Every home, the rise of the road, the large rock in the ditch to the left, the trench someone had dug to lay pipes…everything! This was the very place from my dream where I had begun to deliver a baby! And, in that moment, God shouted, and everything came into focus.

So, our Board of Directors just approved this vision. We hope to begin construction in October or early November. This is a step of faith for us, as is everything we do. We are trusting God for funds and staffing, and are confident of His provision. After all, it is His idea.

Already there are four women who are interested in being trained as midwives, and we expect that number to grow. And, as I see the number of pregnant ladies in the region, I realize that this region needs this ministry sooner rather that later.

Please pray with us as we walk in obedience. Pray for Stephanie as she makes her move from Canada on October 12th. Pray for provision for this new area of ministry. Pray for wisdom and effective partnership for both Building Guate and Ministerio de Esperanza. And pray that God will be glorified as lives are saved.

Thanks and blessings from Guatemala!
Daryl, Wanda and the Crew


Friday, June 16, 2017

Updates and Earthquakes

I have been negligent in giving you updates regarding our new home, and for that I apologize. I am trying to tame my schedule and do a better job of updating my blog and keeping our faithful supporters and prayer partners informed. 

Our second home is up and running, and we continue to work out the kinks. You would think that it would be easy to just expand our existing program and receive more children, but a new household creates its own dynamics and requires a different approach. Wanda manages the schedule for both homes, and her hands are very full as our staff and ministry has grown.

After weeks of being stonewalled by the government, the children began to arrive. At present, we have six children in the second home, and we have decided to put a hold on receiving more for now. There are a couple of reasons for this, which I will explain.

First, we have decided to not license the second house as its own home with a separate license. This is to help save money and time. Instead, we are applying to expand our current license to allow us to care for more children. This is a much faster process and is far less costly. 

For now, we are technically licensed to receive ten children. Yet we now have 13 children in this house and six in the second house. That means we are operating at 190% of capacity. (Understand, we have more than adequate space and staff for these children, it is just our additional space and staff are not yet “official.”) So, at the recommendation of our social worker, we are not accepting more children until our expansion is approved. We hope to have this completed by the end of July.

The second reason is due to some of the new children we have received. Of the six children who have joined our second home, three of them are in very critical condition, with two of them being terminal. We have two very little girls, both under four months, who have hidranencefalia. While this looks a lot like hydrocephalus, it is actually different in that both of them have very little brain. Instead, they have a brainstem and a small piece of brain attached, and the rest of their cranium is filled with cerebral fluid. And that fluid is building pressure.

With hydrocephalus, a shunt is installed to drain off excess fluid and reduce that pressure. But with hidranencefalia, this will not work. Our neurosurgeon has informed us that the surgery will be expensive, and they would both likely die within a few days of surgery. So, we have decided to love them well and pray for them until such time that Jesus either heals them in this life or the next. 

But their care is rather extensive. They cry a lot and need to be held and rocked much of the time to comfort them. They don’t sleep well at night, which means those that are caring for them don’t sleep much either.

Then, around the same time, we received a young man who is 14 years old. He has severe cerebral palsy and has a G-tube for feeding. He had been in Hogar Seguro, but after the fire, the courts sent him back to his mother, who has neither the resources nor knowledge to care for him. Over the almost three months he was back in his home, he suffered from three very serious infections that nearly killed him. And he came to us in very bad shape.

(Just a side note: The conditions of some of these children when they come to us is heartbreaking. One of the babies came to us at 3 1/2 months old, and we are pretty sure she had never had a bath. She was covered in a horrible rash that we soon found out was caused by a horrible mite infestation. She had the worst case of cradle cap we have ever seen, requiring days of gentle soaking and washing to clear. And the young man came to us horribly malnourished without any way for us to feed him through his feeding tube. We had to rush around to scramble together what we needed. Thankfully, a therapy team from Xavier University had come the previous week and left us just what we needed to do the job!)
So, suffice it to say, the second household has its hands full in caring for these three. Plus, some of  the other three children they have are a handful. So, until things are a little more stable with the health of those children, we have decided it is best not to add others.

In order to prepare the second household for inspection, we have had to do a lot of work. The majority of that has fallen on Dale Beyer and Michael Gross, with Joel, Cesar and Calin assisting. And they have done fantastic work. A changing room had to be built, a special bathing tub was designed and built, ramps were poured to the patio, a ramp built to one bathroom, a second bathroom had to be finished, a fence to separate the parking area was built, and much more. But the final touches are being added now, and we are ready for inspection. I don’t know what I would do without our incredible team that is so faithful and so good at what they do!


And, as I give this update, I need to not neglect filling you in on Wanda’s health. About two weeks ago, she came down with what we thought was the stomach flu. I was in Jutiapa at the time with the therapy team from Xavier, but I checked in with her regularly. By the time I arrived Friday evening, she was very sick. She could keep nothing in her system at all. So we called our doctor, who came and arranged for an IV to be started to rehydrate her. But we had no sooner got that  started than she took a severe turn. So, I rushed her to the hospital where she was hospitalized to get her hydrated and address her illness.

It is now almost two weeks later, and she is still not back to full strength. It was determined that she had amoebas, and they were a pretty robust and aggressive strain. She continues treatment and is gradually improving and gaining strength. Thanks to all of you who prayed for her.

And finally, two nights ago Guatemala had an earthquake. It was 1:30 am and I was sleeping peacefully, when I was suddenly jarred awake by the lurching of the bed. The initial surge moved our bed to the right, and me with it. I felt myself grabbing the mattress, trying to stay on the bed. 

When I realized what was happening, I jumped out of bed and tried to make decisions in my sleep clouded mind. Was this just a tremor like we often have? (No, this is stronger than I have ever felt.) Should I run and start grabbing kids from their beds, or is it passing? (If feels like the waves are lessening. I think we are okay.) Is there damage occurring in the home? (I don’t think so. I don’t hear cracking concrete or falling objects.) And, by the time I had sorted through that process, it  was over.

When all was said and done, there had been a 6.9 earthquake about 93 miles to our west in San Marcos, Guatemala. As of last night, the death toll stood at five, with lots of buildings down and damaged. It is quite miraculous that only five were killed, since it occurred at night while everyone was in bed.

But this whole event has left me thinking a lot about control. Because nothing strips away the illusion of control like an earthquake. When it strikes, you are powerless to stop it or control it in any way. The only thing you can do is pray that it stops…and soon.

We live in a world that tells you that you can be in control. You can control your health. You can control your safety. You can control your finances and retirement. You can be in control, as long as you are responsible and careful. But that is truly a laughable notion.

You eat right and exercise religiously. But the call can still come from the doctor that changes everything. You can purchase the vehicle with the highest crash rating and strap your children into a five-point restraint system. But a drunk driver can cross the center line and take the lives of those you hold dearest. You can work hard and save carefully for the future. But a recession can cost you your job and a bad day in the markets can wipe out your retirement. And you will be completely in control…until you are not.

Since our family made the decision to move to Guatemala, we have experienced a lot of criticism. And most of that criticism focuses on safety, security and responsibility. How could we, as loving parents, move our children to a developing country where healthcare is poor and crime is high? How could we give up our health insurance? What? We don’t have a retirement plan?!? Surely God wants us to be safe and secure, doesn’t He?

But all of those criticisms are rooted in a lie. And that lie is that we can be in control of our safety and security. Regardless of what we think, where we live and what we do, we are NOT in control. Events can happen in the blink of an eye that show us how out-of-control we really are. Life…and death…happens, regardless of how careful we think we are.

Recently a friend told me about a relative that died while watching TV in their living room. A boulder from the mountain behind their home came loose, rolled down the mountain, and right through his house. And he was killed instantly. How much safer can you be that resting in your own home?

One of my favorite quotes from Shakespeare came from my readings in tenth grade. I can’t tell you which play it is from. (I wasn’t the best student in those days, especially when it came to Shakespeare.) But the quote stuck with me, and I have never forgotten it:

“The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave die but once.”

And, as a tenth grader, I realized an important truth. I could not live my life fearing death. If I did, I would never really live. I had to go live life to the full, and trust God with that life and my eventual death.

And when I do die, I would much rather die doing something that matters than simply trying to stay safe. Our goal is not to simply stay alive, it is to live and love and give and serve…the way Jesus did those things.

One of my other favorite quotes is by Thomas Aquinas:


"If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, 
he would keep it in port forever." 

What is our goal? It is to preserve the ship of our lives and our families? If so, keep it all in port and don’t do anything. Never take chances. Never take risks. And don’t worry, you will blend right in with the world around you as you stay behind your picket fence. Just don’t be surprise when a boulder comes crashing through your perfect world.

But, if our goal is to make a difference and change this broken and dying world, that approach will not do. We must go where others won’t go and do what other won't do. We must take huge risks that defy the odds and threatens our safety and security. Safe is never world-changing.

But here is the thing: The earthquakes will come, either way. Our world will be shaken, and lives will be lost, including our own. And those shakes will come whether you are playing it safe and comfortably or are taking risks for Jesus. The only question is…when the world shakes and the end comes, will we be doing something worth doing?

I pray that I will be, and that you will as well!

Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Thursday, June 8, 2017

When You Hold a Dying Child

Today I held a dying child in my arms. I wish I could say that is an unusual occurrence, but it is not. In fact, it happens almost every day.

We currently have three such children in our home. The neurologist has told us that two of them, Edy and Analia, have no chance apart from a miracle. There is simply nothing we can do except to love them while we wait for Jesus to take them home. The third child, Yasmin, had a neurology appointment today. We have been told that a shunt might extend her life, but we will find out more after the appointment with the neurosurgeon tomorrow. Regardless, this will extend her life, but not save it.

We have had five children die in our home in the last four years. That is one the challenges of having a home for children with special needs. They often come to us frail and weak, with their lives already slipping away. We fight for them, but sometimes they just cannot be saved.

And these dying children that I hold are not just in our home. On Sunday I sat next to my friend, Rodney, after being called to his bedside early that morning. As soon as I saw him, I knew he was dying, and there was nothing I could do. So, I sat next to him as he took his final breaths in this life and watched him slip away to Jesus.

So today, as I held little Analia in my arms, death was very close on all sides. I am not trying to be morbid, I am just being real. We are surrounded by death, and that can be so very hard to face. But it is also a wonderful reality check that helps us to know what is important. And I need that. We all need that.

We live in a sound chamber of noise as this world tries to scream at us. It tries to convince us of what matters…what is important. And it does a good job of convincing us. The noise frequently drowns out the still small voice that gently leads us to real meaning and importance. It happens to me regularly. And, unless I am mistaken, it happens to you as well.

The news blares about hearings in Washington DC and how our country hangs in the balance. Financial advisors warn us of the importance of our retirement accounts. Commercials tell us how important our insurance coverage is. We are pounded from every side with how important the safety and security of our families really are. Plus, we all really need to have the newest phone and car. And our homes are kind of crowded with all the possessions we own. And the noise continues.

But there is something about holding a dying child that quiets that noise. As I held little Analia in my arms this morning, the noise faded. And I remembered anew how little in this life is really important. Certainly none of the above really matters.

In that moment, I was reminded how insignificant politics is. Because our elected officials do not care about the life and death battle of children in a distance place like Guatemala. The politicians in Guatemala don’t even care. Nothing that happens in DC or Guatemala City will ever really make a difference in the lives of the truly hurt and broken.

I was reminded how insignificant theology is. So much time spent studying, debating and arguing who God is and what He is really like. I find myself chuckling at the idea of finite men with finite minds claiming to understand our infinite God, when in reality they haven’t even scratched the surface of one of His toenails. And in the microscopic examination and word studies, we often miss His heart and passion for the broken world around us. Meanwhile, He invites us to come and know and love Him, not study Him.

I was reminded of how insignificant every possession I own is. I would trade them all if it could save Analia or Yasmin or Edy or Rodney. It is all a pile of rubbish compared to a single life that is created in the image of our God.

I was reminded of how insignificant so much of what we call “the church” is. The buildings and services and programs and budgets…so very often it all just a disguise of faith wrapped around tradition. And so very often it embraces those things while ignoring the priorities of Jesus Himself. We embrace the trappings while ignoring the poor, the widows, the orphans and the broken. We welcome the clean middle class to our carpeted sanctuaries while rejecting the sinners and disenfranchised beyond the door. And that “church” become insignificant, to both God and the world around us.

I was reminded that there is very little in this life that is true and really matters. It could likely all be counted on one hand. But those few things are so very real and true and important. Those few things are worth living and dying for.

So, as I held that dying child, I was also reminded of how good our God is. I felt His grief for our broken world and personal states. I felt His goodness contrasted with the ugliness and brokenness of this world. And I know, more than ever, how very good He is, even in the midst of suffering.

(Last week I received a message from a genuine skeptic. He has lots of doubts, but he is open and willing to address his doubts by seeking answers. He asked me, “Daryl, you are surrounded by suffering and death. Has that affected your belief in the goodness of God?” My answer was simple. “Yes, it has made me even more convinced than ever that God is good and that He is love!”)

I was reminded of the depth of His great love, for both Analia and me. I recognized, even as I was overcome by profound love for her, that His love is far greater. And, in that moment, His great love surrounded us both.

I was reminded how important the true church is in this world. We are the hope of this world to know the Answer. And the true church is still out there as a remnant…and it is growing. And I knew that, as I held her in my arms, the church was holding us both. Because of God’s work through the church, I was holding her in my arms in a safe place. The true church is out there, giving, praying, serving, loving, encouraging and moving forward. And I believe in that true church more every day.

I was reminded of how wonderfully insignificant and significant I really am. This one is a hard one to explain, but I will try. I am insignificant in that my life really doesn’t matter in comparison to the Gospel and God’s heart for the world. I am expendable as God sees fits, and He can take my health, wealth and life in order to accomplish His heart and mission for the world. I don’t really matter. And yet, when I surrender myself to Him and His mission, I matter. In fact, that is the only way that any of us truly can ever know true meaning and significance. And, as I held Analia in my arms, I knew how much both of us matter to Him.

And I was reminded how wonderful and precious life is, no matter how short or long it may be. And, even as I hold dying children on a daily basis, I dare not forget to celebrate and live to the max this life I have been given for as long as I have it to live.

There is so little that is truly important in this world. But the things that are, are really important. And we all need to be reminded of that. So it would probably be good for all of us to occasionally hold and love a dying child.

I invite you to come and do that with us. Hold a dying child and learn to really celebrate and live life. We are just a short flight away.

Blessings!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Birthday, A Stolen Vehicle, and An Open Home

It has been a while since my last blog post. Time is flying these days, and what seemed like two weeks has actually been two months. Life is busy. Very busy.

Let me fill you in on all that has been happening…

When word spread of our decision to open a second home, the church responded in incredible ways, and money flowed to us. We rented the second house that is just 100 yards down the street, and work began. Our entire team worked long days painting, building, plumbing and running electricity. Other ministries stepped up and gave to help. El Amor de Patricia provided us with 12 beds, pillows, sheets and blankets, along with towels, silverware, plates, cups and much more. Orphan Resources International provided a table and benches along with hygiene kits and doubled their monthly food resources to our ministry. We also purchased furniture and appliances and the home came together quickly. 

 


At the same time, our daughters, Carissa and Taryn, changed their plane tickets and made a speeding return to Guatemala from Uganda. They were installed as the Directors of the new house, and we hired three additional nannies and began training them. Within two weeks, everything was ready to go.

And we waited. And waited. And waited. We had been receiving multiple calls a day asking us to receive children up until the week before our second house was ready. But then they stopped. Stories began come out of inner turmoil in Bienestar Social, UNICEF and CNA. Due to pressure from UNICEF and the funds they provide for children in government homes, Bienestar Social did not want to move children from the government homes to private homes like ours. They were pressuring the President to expand the government homes and move children from private homes.

At one point, we were told that the President signed an order to move all children from private homes to foster care or government homes. This information came from a well-placed and knowledgeable source and was confirmed the next day when a court contacted us asking about the information for the children in our home that were from their court. They told us that they were trying to comply with the President’s order and find placement for them elsewhere. Likewise, another person who works closely with Bienestar Social contacted me and confirmed the story.

Since then, I can find no public confirmation of the story, and many have told me it is false. But I do know that for almost five weeks our phones went dead. No calls came asking us to receive children. And, since the opening of our home, we have never gone more than a few days without a request. Likewise, I heard from several other ministries that had space, but they had stopped receiving calls as well. It was eerily silent.

Meanwhile, in the midst of this, we received word from CNA that an accusation had been made against our home. It seems that someone on Facebook had seen some of my posts and insisted that they were evidence that we were not caring for our children. They said that our children were not clean and were neglected. Right away, I knew what the issue was. A Spanish speaker had likely seen some of my photos of our rural village ministry and assumed that they were children in our home. I knew it would be quickly resolved, but shook my head at the needless waste of time.

Last week we met with representatives from CNA, and my suspicions were confirmed. The big concern was a post about a girl in our rural village ministry and a few misinterpreted photos of a children in our home. Once the situations were explained, everything was good again and CNA commended us for our work.

However, this has led us to make some difficult changes in our social media.  I have changed my Facebook page from public to private. In addition, our staff, family and interns will no longer be sharing photos of the children that display their faces or share their real names. These changes are to protect both our ministry and the children for which we care. 

Then, finally, at the beginning of last week, the children began to arrive in our new home. We received two children, and infant girl and a 10 year old boy. The little girl I will call “Anny” and the boy, “David.” Anny is likely terminal and will not live long, but we are working hard to assure that there is nothing more that can be done. If not, we will love her well until Jesus takes her home.

In addition, we are waiting for three children who were all residents of Hogar Seguro. They have severe special needs and are in desperate need of specialized care. As soon as the judges sign their orders, they will join us as well.

I am daily receiving calls asking us to receive children. Sometimes three or four a day. Even though we have space, we have to be careful about the children we receive. Here’s why:
  1. The courts are desperate to place children and are willing to lie and misrepresent the cases in order to convince us to say yes. They lie about their age and, knowing that we will only receive children with special needs, manufacture needs.  If we are not careful, we could say yes to a 10 year old with cerebral palsy who will end up being a 16 year old gang member.
  2. We are currently waiting on three children with severe special needs. Until we receive them, have them evaluated, and develop care plans for them, we don’t know what will be involved. So, until we know, we have to be careful about receiving other children with severe needs. Otherwise, we might find ourselves completely overwhelmed.
  3. We have to maintain balance. We cannot have a home filled with all severe, high-demand needs. We also need children with less severe needs to the sake of physical and emotion health of the caregivers. So, we rely heavily on the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we receive calls and make decisions. Please pray for that process.
While all of this was happening, we were also dealing with the loss of our Director of Operations, Manuel Moran, who was murdered the same day as the fire in  Hogar Seguro. How do we replace a man like him? How do I replace a brother and friend?

The week following Manuel’s funeral, my son-in-law, Joel, and daughter, Brittney, approached me. Both of them expressed their willingness to move back from San Pablo La Laguna and serve here in our main headquarters if I needed them. I knew right away that Joel would make an excellent Director of Operations, so we all began to pray for God’s guidance. And the Lord confirmed it.

So, Brittney and Joel moved to our town and are actually living right next door to our new home. Joel has adjusted to his new position beautifully and is doing a fantastic job. And our ministry is moving ahead once again.

But on Friday, we hit a little snag…

It was my 50th birthday, so my family planned a special day. It started out with breakfast in Antigua with my adult daughters, Brittney, Krishauna, Carissa and Taryn. We parked in town close to the big arch and headed to breakfast. We returned about 90 minutes later to find our Toyota 4-Runner missing. It had been stolen from a very public spot in broad daylight.

My response was unique. I didn’t get upset or angry. I don’t even think my heart rate elevated at all. I just calmly told the girls that I was going to find a police officer to file a report. So, after a humerous ride in a police truck, the theft was reported and Wanda picked us up and brought us home. And my birthday celebration continued. To be honest, it did not dampen the day at all. I had lunch with Andi, Stevie and Jeremiah. (Joel was in the city for a hearing with one of our children.) Then I watched a movie and had snacks with Joshua, Kimmie and Jonathan. Then I ended the day with supper in Antigua with my beautiful wife.

Through it all, God kept reminding me of how insignificant things such as cars are. What really matters is Him and the family that surrounded me all that day.

That is not to say that the theft of the vehicle is not a problem, because it is. Our fleet was already stretched thin before this, and now is it really thin. I have to replace it, and we do not have the funds to do so. But we cannot wait. We have to move forward, purchase a vehicle, and trust God to provide.

So, please pray for that provision in the days ahead. We need a 4x4 pick-up with diesel turbo and crew cab. I have been pleased with our Hilux, which is a workhorse, so I would prefer another one of those. Please pray that we can find what we need at a good price and that God will provide the funds.

Well, that is a summary of two months in about two pages. Thanks for your prayers, support and encouragement!


Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Plea to the Church

Occasionally a message will burn so strongly in my heart that I cannot rest until I get it out. It feels that my chest will explode if I cannot find a way to share what is in my heart. This is one of those times. But, before I do, I want you to understand my tone.

Writing can be dangerous for a passionate guy like me. As you read these words on this page, you cannot see my face and decipher my tone as easily as you decipher these letters. So something that is written with tears in my eyes can easily be construed as being written with furrowed brow and scowl. I want you to know that as these words flow from my heart there are tears in my eyes and not a trace of anger. There is no judgement. This is just a heartfelt plea to God’s people. With that in mind, please continue reading.

Twelve days ago, a riot broke out in the Guatemalan government-run home, Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asunción. The resulting fire ended in the deaths of 40 adolescent girls and injuries to others and served to expose the abuse and neglect that had occurred in that nightmare of a home for years. Over 750 children and teens were housed in a place meant for 400. As I hear more of the testimonies from the children who were in there, my heart breaks at moments, only to be consumed with rage moments later. And the cycle continues to repeat.

What make this story especially sad is that it should never have happened. When I say that, you probably think, “Of course not! No one should ever treat a child like that!” And you would be right. What was done to those children is inexcusable. But that is not what I am talking about.

The abuse, neglect and deaths that occurred should never have happened, because Hogar Seguro (ironically the name means “Safe Home”) should never have existed. And it should not have existed because the government should not have been caring for orphans. That has always been, and always will be, the church’s responsibility.

Go to your Bible on your phone, pad or computer. Do a search in scripture for the words “orphan” and “fatherless.” What do you see? You see God repeatedly instructing His people to care for them. To feed them, clothe them and take them in. Old Testament…New Testament…doesn’t matter. They are completely in harmony on the topic. As God’s people, the orphan crisis in Guatemala and around the globe is OUR PROBLEM. And it is our responsibility to put an end to the crisis. In fact, according to James 1:27, resolving this crisis is at the heart of true and pure religion.

Right now there are around 650 children that have been thrust out of their orphanage and who need placement. Of that number, 43 of them had pronounced special needs. All of these have been placed into the same home in Guatemala City. They are crowded together into two big, open rooms where they live until another spot can be found. They are being fed and changed, but little else. This is not because the people caring for them are bad, but because they are overwhelmed. It is taking all that have to give to provide these basics. And the church has to do something.

There are two reasons why the church needs to be involved in caring for these 650 children, as well as the other children who are still in government homes. The first reason is obvious, because these orphans need the church…desperately. They need the body of Christ to care, and give, and go, and love them. Without the intervention of the church, many of these children will end up in gangs. Without the church, many will turn to prostitution. Without the church, many will go to jail. And, without the church, many will die. Each of these children need us desperately.

But there is a second reason that we often miss. THE CHURCH NEEDS THEM! 

Go ahead and read that again, just to make sure you didn’t misread it the first time. Yep, you read it right. The church needs the orphans. The church needs the displaced, the poor, the refugee, the broken. We need them, because without them we will never truly know Jesus.

I have known Jesus for over 34 years. During those years I have had one consistent prayer on my lips that has followed me from church to church and ministry to ministry. That prayer is this: "Jesus, let me know You as you really are without the filter of tradition, culture, or preconceived ideas." But it wasn't until I truly began to walk among the broken and taste their suffering that the layers of facade were stripped away and His face began to be revealed. And, now that I have experienced that, I can never go back.

I have learned that sharing in His suffering and the suffering of those He loves is necessary to know Him as He truly is. But that element is missing from most of the US church, and the church is suffering as a result.

Likely, some of you reading this right now are feeling an emptiness. You came to Christ and you are trying to follow Him. You go to church. You give. You try to show others Jesus in the way you live. But, somehow, there is still an emptiness. You can’t escape the awareness that you are missing something. You want your life to really matter for Jesus, but you wonder deep down if it really does. You want to feel God’s presence and hear His voice, but it is seldom that you actually do.

There is a false theology that has snared the church, and it is robbing us of the rich fellowship of Jesus Christ. It is the theology of comfort and security. We have been told that the responsible act is the godly act. Good parenting means keeping our children safe and sheltered. Good stewardship means savings accounts, retirement plans and never doing anything unless we have the money in-hand. Good discipleship means cautiousness. Keep your hands clean and your circle tight. And US Christianity proclaims “America First” and shuns risks.

But in the midst of the world’s suffering, out where things are dangerous and uncertain, is where we find Jesus. The Friend of sinners walks among the broken, poor, homeless and fatherless. And we will never truly know Him until we do the same.

We need the orphans as much as they need us. And, until we know that truth, we will consistently miss Jesus.

I write these words with tears in my eyes and pleading in my heart. Fellow believer, if you want revival in your life and in your church, step out in faith and walk with the poor, broken and orphaned. Please. It is the only hope for both the church and for the world.

That is finally off my chest, and I feel better. Now, let me share with you what our ministry is doing in response to the current crisis.

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We want to take in more children, but we do not have the space. So, we have spoken with CNA and that have agreed to allow us to rent a second house close by and receive children under our current license. This is special permission to allow us to help them with the current crisis. Once the crisis has passed, we will either have to have that home licensed or close it down.

So, here we go. We are currently trying to rent a home just down the road from us. It is all on one level and is handicapped accessible. We will need to install a better bathroom, but it will otherwise be good to go. We are going to hire additional staff and receive ten more children with special needs.

Our daughters, Carissa and Taryn, are returning from Uganda. God has made it clear that the doors to open a group home there have been closed firmly by the government for now. In addition, the ministries with which Taryn had volunteered to serve have all cancelled on her. The only explanation for these events is that God is closing the doors there to send them elsewhere. Carissa has long-term plans that we will share soon, but in the short-term both of them are returning quickly to Guatemala to help us with this second house.

This is a huge step of faith for us in every way. This will increase our budget significantly. It will stretch Wanda and I and our staff in numerous ways. It is downright scary on almost every level. But God is never the source of fear, so we press on.

For right now, here is what we need:
  • Financial provision - We will have to hire at least three additional staff, purchase equipment and furnishings, install a bathroom, and increase our purchasing of food and supplies.
  • People to help - We need volunteers to come and serve. We especially need interns to serve from two months to a year. But we also need long-term workers to open additional homes and serve as support to the homes.
  • Prayer partners - We need people who are really interceding on behalf of our ministry and these children.
  • People to spread the word and share the needs - Could you share the first portion of this blog (down to the dotted line) with your congregation or small group? Could you talk to others and let them know about the crisis this country is facing? Then direct them to ways they can help. (Note: We are not suggesting that you funnel financial support to us. You can instead direct them to Orphan Resources International who is helping all the homes that are receiving children.)
  • In other words, we need you.

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon. Whenever there is a crisis, you would assume that most people would jump in to help. But most do not. It is not that they don’t care, but that they make a false assumption. Namely, they assume that there are others who are more qualified and better equipped who will step up to help.

Through years of experiencing this phenomenon, I now have a very different assumption. I assume that no one else will step up, so it is up to me. 

Might I make the recommendation that the church make that same assumption with me? What would happen if every believer and every church assumed that it was up to them? I sometimes like to sit and imagine that. And then I pray that God will make it reality.

So, here we go again, stepping off a cliff and praying that God will catch us as we catch these children. So, what do you think? Wanna take a leap?


Daryl, Wanda and the Crew