Cincinnati Friends, join Executive Directors, Todd & Beth Guckenberger on November 8th for our fundraising banquet as we share stories of how God is fulfilling His promises to orphans all around the world. We invite you to be a part of this special evening of hope as we celebrate fifteen years of serving the orphan child.
This week, we presented our new VBS called “Sky,” to three families, at Casa Hogar San Jose and at the CAT. The theme for the Vacation Bible School is based on Mark 10:27: Todo es posible con Dios — Everything is possible with God. For many of these kids, this is perhaps a new truth and a very important message. We continue to build bridges with the kids and the staff at the CAT (government shelter for abused and neglected children), as God continues to show favor on this relationship. We will be doing VBS all summer with the teams that come to serve for our ministry partners.
It was a great week in which we built relationships with kids, ministry partners, staff and one another. As our Back2Back staff reflected this morning on the week past and the week ahead, we were amazed at God’s blessings and favor on the work Back2Back is doing.
Two years ago, when Back2Back Cancun started, Matt and Julie Cooper (B2B Cancun directors) were looking for someone to help clean the group house. The security guard recommended his cousin, Dalila. Since then Dalila has become a friend and an example to all of our staff. She is not a believer, yet, but gives glory to God for what is taking place in her life and we hope that she accepts Jesus as her savior soon!
Dalila is a widow and a mother of three. But more than that, this is a woman that had a great dream.
This is the story of her dream:
One day, a lady from one of the groups asked Dalila, “Dalila, what is your dream?” Dalila answered, “To have my own house” (this conversation took place last December). “You don’t have a house?” the lady asked. “No, I rent a house and I don’t own any land to build my house on.” To this, the lady replied to Dalila, “You should pray and ask God to give you your dream.”
That day Dalila did what the lady told her to do. Not knowing what to expect, she asked God for her dream to come true.
One day, Dalila saw some land and she decided to ask for information. She just wanted to know if it was available. She left not only knowing that it was available but also knowing what she needed to do to get the land. She applied for a loan and she got approved. She was able to buy the land and start construction on the basic foundation of what would someday be a home for her and her children.
The next week Back2Back felt led to start partnering with her in the construction of her house. During this summer the groups that came to serve along side of us helped to make her dream a reality.
This week we finished her house and had a house warming-dedication party. Her face was priceless during the celebration.
When it was her turn to speak, the words could barely come out of her mouth. She was so thankful to God because He had heard her prayer and answered it. She is moving in on Friday!
Dalila is an example for my life, because even after losing her husband and going through a tragedy, she never gave up. Most the kids from the children homes that we serve are there because it was easier for their parents to leave them then to fight for them, this could have been Dalila’s kids lives, but thanks to her perseverance, this family is still together.
Please keep Dalila’s family in your prayers. Pray that this will only be the beginning of a great relationship with God and that they will never forget that the giver of all good things is God.
Over the last couple months in Back2Back Nigeria, the “Dry Season Farming” projects that were started in the Kisayhip Village have progressed very well. For quite a while it was a bit boring as we watched waiting for the fruit of the peoples labor to appear.
In Kisayhip ‘A’ (the village is split in two parts Kisayhip ‘A’ and ‘B’) the women have worked very hard to cultivate a large crop of tomatoes. A couple weeks ago the women began to harvest and sell the tomatoes. Today, they have made over $300, a large amount here in Nigeria. They will continue to harvest the tomatoes for a couple more weeks hopefully bringing their total net profit to between $500-$600. We are excited to see how this money will be used in the three categories agreed upon (1/3 goes to the women who worked, 1/3 goes back into the project and 1/3 is set aside for a community development project led by the women).
Kisayhip Youth Developments farming is also starting to pick up. The potatoes they planted have started to come up (at least the plant part that grows out of the ground). They have added fertilizer to help the potatoes grow and continue to work the farm keeping it healthy. They plan to harvest the potatoes sometime in August.
With both of these projects, it wasn’t very exciting until we could start to see the fruit of the labor. Both the tomatoes and potatoes need time to develop and we must wait patiently knowing something is happening even if we can’t see it.
Community Development as a whole is a lot like this process. We plant seeds in peoples lives in the form of character, integrity or love and have to trust that God is doing something even while we can’t physically see it. It takes time for the seed to become a plant growing out of the ground and even more time for the plant to yield fruit that will be beneficial.
In the lives of some of the youth in Kisayhip Youth Development and the women in Kisayhip ‘A’ we are starting to see the plant come out of the ground and we wait in eager expectation for God to produce the harvest of fruit that will benefit their community.
Please pray for the physical harvest of food that will feed and/or provide money for the people in the Kisayhip village, and also pray for the spiritual harvest God is cultivating in the lives of the people here.
I got a phone call from a woman last week that caught my attention. She had recently come home from spending a week in Monterrey with Back2Back and was interested in sponsoring one of the children she had connected with. Nothing too unusual about that. (If you met these kids, you’d probably call me too). What made the phone call unusual was that she wanted to come into the office to drop off her donation right away. Usually people will wait for me to mail them a Welcome Packet and send their first donation back through the mail. This woman couldn’t wait that long.
That afternoon she came in with gift wrapped presents and a check book. She apologized for keeping me waiting (as if I should have expected her to come straight after we hung up the phone). As I sat down with her and started getting her all set up for sponsorship, she began to tell me her story. Her and her husband served with us in Monterrey because her son, who worked at a church, invited them. They had attended the church off and on, but the gospel was never real to them. While working with Back2Back in Monterrey, they met a teenage girl who had been abandoned by her family, yet put her faith in a God who loved her enough to send His son to die for her. That kind of faith, in spite of circumstances, opened her eyes to the reality of Jesus as Savior. Her and her husband came home and were baptized the following Sunday. She had written this orphan girl a letter, telling her the impact her faith had on her and her husband’s life. She couldn’t wait to get it to our office and begin sponsoring her. I was just blessed enough to be the one to pass that letter along.
One of my favorite things about God is how His plans are so much better than ours. This woman thought she was doing God a favor and going on a trip to Monterrey to change the life of an orphan. God smiled at her good intention, and decided to do her one better. He sent the orphan to her to change her life.
WOW! That’s how I need to start this post. Please read on and you will understand why.
We are not posting pictures with this post, and while we realize that this certainly makes the posts harder to read and interact with, in some cases we do not have a choice as the children that we are writing about in this post come from dangerous situations and need to be protected. As a result, we are not permitted to share their photos, nor is it in their best interest to do so. We ask for your understanding as we continue to try to share with you their lives and what the Lord is doing here in Cancún.
After a week of vacation, the first day back to work was a Wednesday. Wednesdays are very special because it is usually the day that we go visit the kids at CAT (a shelter for children in dangerous situations). CAT is a government program and for that reason they are not very open to the gospel.
This summer we started VBS in all our ministry sites and we had a hard time thinking about how we were going to do it at CAT without being able to talk about God. The main idea for the VBS is that “Everything is Possible with God” (not easy to do without the word God). So Mau and Lizy, the captains from CAT, decided that it was time to have a conversation with director of the CAT about this.
So Wednesday came and I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard that some changes had been made but I wasn’t sure what they were referring to.
I was in charge of the games and my heart jumped with excitement when I found out that the doors had been open for the name of God to be said with freedom! I had freedom to tell these kids about the wonderful plan that God had for their lives, freedom to tell them that no matter their circumstances they could trust in God!
And that wasn’t the best part. We finish the VBS singing the songs that we learned that day, after I tell you what happened you will understand why I had to start this post with the word WOW.
These precious kids went from not knowing who God is to singing to Him the song called “OUR GOD.” If you have never heard this song before please listen to it. So the next day we had a field trip with the kids and guess what one of them said in his conversation with someone else… “With God everything is possible!” They are getting to know their Heavenly Father! It is amazing what God can do in one week!
I remember that our first month in Cancun I posted a prayer request about CAT. That the doors would be open to the Gospel, and they have been opened wide!
Thank you for partnering with us and making this possible.
This past month, a group of children who attend St. Michael’s Catholic School, and are involved with an organization called Mustangs Serve put together personal care kits of shampoo, conditional, a comb, and a hairbrush for the children Back2Back serves in Hyderabad, India. These personal care kits will help meet the physical needs of the children, and also improve their personal hygiene, which in turn helps their emotional, and social needs. These personal care kits will be taken to India with a team that is taking a trip in July.
Mustangs Serve not only raised funds to cover the cost of transporting the kits to India, but they also raised money to purchase the children bananas. The students involved with Mustangs Serve planned a banana themed bake sale for the month of June to raise more funds to donate to the purchasing of bananas. The diet of the children Back2Back serves in India lacks essential vitamins and nutrients that are found in fruit. The bananas that will be purchased improve the nutrition of the children, meeting their physical needs and support their growth, health and development. Meeting a child’s physical needs allows them to succeed spiritually, educationally, and socially because they can fully focus on the task at hand instead of being distracted by hunger.
Bananas are just one of the many items that can be purchased from the Back2Back Gift of Hope Catalog, if you’re interested in bringing hope to the children in India, or one of Back2Back’s other ministry sites, please check out our Gift of Hope Catalog or contact the home office for more information.
Who hasn’t heard or seen the promotions for sponsoring a child through global non-profit organizations?
We have two girls with one of them and I know tons of friends and family that sponsor kids through these programs.
So why am I writing about this?
Because of a little party we had this week at Casa Hogar San Jose, a home that Back2Back serves in Cancun, Mexico.
During one of our visits to San Jose this week, Anna and I were able to read letters to the kids from their sponsors and help them decorate and write letters back to them.
The joy and excitement of the kids was transparently over the top.
It got me thinking about and studying their behavior and reactions to the letters, to the words written by their sponsors, and about everything that these kids are able to do because of the sacrifice that their sponsor is making every month.
There were two moments when it really struck me. The first was when Jorge (9), was hunched over the table completely zoned into reading the letter from his sponsor. The other was when Sandi (14) was reading a portion of her letter out loud an laughing with Jimena (12).
These two unique moments brought a clarity to my mind about the value of this precious communication and attention to these kids lives. The reality and strength of the bonds formed through personal letter writing and personal connection of having met their sponsors.
And that is where, I believe, the first of the two major differences lies with Back2Back’s child sponsorship program. While the major organizations have a roughly 90/10 split of sponsors who have never met their children, Back2Back’s is just the opposite.
The value of this personal connection is undeniable in the eyes of these kids. We are a unique and blessed ministry to be able to have so many children know their sponsors personally and be able to maintain that close relationship that was formed when their sponsors came on a short term trip with Back2Back and met them for the first time.
The second major difference, in my opinion, is the constant oversight of direct children’s homes captains and a team of ministry personnel focused on how to utilize each dollar of sponsorship donation to the utmost for the benefit of the whole child through Back2Back’s Child Development Model that is focused on the Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, Social and Educational aspects of their life.
Because of Back2Back’s tireless commitment to transparency and devotion to learning more about how to go deep with each child, the sponsors know that their sacrifice is truly making a difference in every aspect of their sponsored child’s life.
We just wanted to take the time to thank those who are Back2Back Child Sponsors and especially for those of the kids at Casa Hogar San Jose in Cancun. Your investment in these children is a daily reminder of our perfect Heavenly Father’s love and provision for those that He holds most dear. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus and for being the difference for one of the 163,000,000 orphans in the world today.
Please enjoy this video of our letter writing party this week at Casa Hogar San Jose on the north side of Cancun.
This month we rolled out MERC…our Mobile Education Resource Center. We are so excited to see the kids participating in this program and are slowly building our library of books through contributions and gifts. We would also like to add other resources to the program, including educational games, manipulatives and laptops. Laptops would allow us to use educational software as another teaching tool, and to teach the kids computer skills.
Years and years of taking Eliza and Nick to the library and checking out tons of books is paying off in really neat ways. Lending libraries are very rare in Mexico, and we do not have any in this area. We’ve been collecting books for the past few months and I really didn’t know how the kids would respond, but they love it!
In addition to allowing them to check out 2-3 books at a time, we also have read-aloud times, both one-on-one and in a large group. In addition to helping the kids learn to read and learn to enjoy good stories, it’s also a great time for teams to interact with the kids on a more personal level.
We are very excited about adding more resources to the MERC to expand the program. If you are interested in helping build our library, please contact the Back2Back home office.
Tres Reyes (Three Kings) is a community in the Cancun, Mexico area that we always look for different ways to support and get to know the people that we serve. Every time we go to server there, God opens our eyes to the needs that we sometimes can take for granted.
We have hosted doctors and had free medical clinics for the community to be able to receive medical care and the medicine they needed home.
We are helping finish the construction of the second story at pastor Victor’s church for the community to have a shaded area to gather and worship God as well as benches for them to sit.
One of the most resent projects that we have done at Tres Reyes that impacted the community in a great way was the Church Sale. This project was inspired by a little boy that came to one of our clinics. His shoes were ripping apart and he had a hard time walking. The roads in Tres Reyes are not paved and the dirt and rocks were hurting his feet. I looked around and many of the people that came to the clinic were in the same situation.
I thought to myself (Anna) “Next time we come to Tres Reyes we need to bring some shoes and clothes.” I didn’t want to only give hand outs, I wanted people to take exactly what they really needed, and that’s when my wonderful days of garage sale-ing came in handy.
So during the next week I gathered all the shoes and clothes and toys that I could find in the Back2Back donations room. I was so excited but at the same time very nervous because I didn’t know if anyone was going to come. But of course I should know by now with all my past experiences, that God was going to make everything work out according to His plan and that’s exactly what happened.
We got everything set up and the people started showing up. There was a point when it was hard to keep up with all the people but the Family Christian Stores mission team with their experience in retailing were life-savers. The prices were very affordable, between 5 and 15 pesos for everything from shoes to clothes, and the kids were able to take a free toy if their parents had purchased something.
We are pleased to introduce Back2Back’s new ministry logo. Our updated logo incorporates five unique shapes that represent the relational aspect of our orphan care ministry as well as the five components of the Back2Back Child Development Model (meeting the spiritual, physical, educational, emotional and social needs of each child we serve in order to provide holistic care). The shapes that are positioned in a “back to back” stance are in the process of forming one single unit. The final segment is aligning into place and emphasizes that each part is crucially needed to make a whole – each component of care is key in the restoration of the orphans we serve. This logo utilizes the current Back2Back Ministries color scheme, as developed for our Child Development Model.
-The cost of the 30 or so books it took to start the boys reading: around $200 usd
As humans, we learned to rely mostly on ourselves and our planning. During this time of training we are learning that no matter how much we plan, we have to remain open to throwing our ideas out the window for God’s plan.
A few weeks ago, a group from Grand Rapids, Michigan was serving with our Back2Back Cancun staff and during this particular day, nothing was going the way that we had anticipated.
We were doing a concrete project that, according to our plan, wasn’t getting finished since we didn’t have enough man power. God’s better outcome: We finished in record time! No explanation, but with fewer people and less that were able to do the physical exertion, somehow we managed (through God’s miraculous help) to do it quicker than ever.
This was my first time translating for a medical clinic and I didn’t know what to expect. We went around the community telling people to come over around noon. We didn’t find many people outside or at home and it seemed like the clinic was having a slow paced day. God’s better outcome: We saw 28 people. Most of them went home with the medicine that they needed to get better. I had a great time getting experience in the medical arena. The doctor was patient and kind with me and the people that we saw. The people of Tres Reyes benefited greatly from this medical service.
Usually when we visit this particular community called Tres Reyes (Three Kings), we finish the day of work with a prayer walk. God’s better idea: We finished praying for pastor Victor and his family (We partner with his church as a main contact in this community) and another family that helped us finish the project. It was a time of blessing and healing.
It is amazing to see God’s hands in and on everything we do. Every time He takes control, everything turns out perfect.
Interested in learning more about orphan care?
The Christian Alliance for Orphans’ annual Summit has become a national hub for Christians committed to adoption, foster care and global orphan initiatives rooted in the local church.
May 3-4, 2012 ♦ Saddleback Church ♦ Southern California
JOIN organization leaders, grassroots advocates, pastors, and ministry entrepreneurs sharing your passion.
ENCOUNTER the gathering hub of orphan ministry partnership, networking and inspiration for service.
BUILD knowledge, resources and practical skills via more than 75 workshops & unforgettable speakers and music, including Francis Chan, Rick Warren, Steven Curtis Chapman and Crawford Loritts.
Join us for a free, festive celebration – a fun afternoon of games, food, music, children’s activities, and community with guest speakers Back2Back Directors, Todd & Beth Guckenberger who will be sharing ministry updates from our Back2Back sites! Hope Education Program graduates, Chef Angel & Chef Sebastian will prepare authentic Mexican appetizers, fresh salsa, guacamole and chips.
Cookout style dinner served from 5:30pm – 7:00pm hamburgers, hot dogs and churros.
Please feel free to invite friends and family to this fun event!
First 50 to RSVP will receive a complimentary copy of Beth Guckenberger’s latest book,Tales of the Not Forgotten (one book per family).
In the past couple weeks some of the youth have made comments that have left me completely humbled by their perspective on life. These have reminded me of others said long ago. I want to share a few with you.
At the end of Bible study each week we take “prayer points” as they’re called here. Each week one youth will inevitably ask for prayer to pay school fees. Never in my life have I had to worry about paying school fee’s, especially in middle school or high school. In fact, I’m sure I would have thought it was great if I didn’t have to go to school in middle school, but here there are 18 year olds asking for prayer so they can pay school fee’s to attend our equivalent of 8th grade.
I would have given up.
Another comment I often hear from youth is that they only want to have what they need, which is something I’m sure I’ve said but they prove it. If they get something they almost always share it only taking enough for themselves. There is no doubt great selfishness is in the village, however, these youth seem to have not caught the bug as greatly as I have. One youth was willing to go as far as sell his mattress to help pay a medical bill for another youth they knew. Read that line again and realize he would have been left sleeping on a mud/concrete floor. He wouldn’t have just gone out and bought another, he would have gone without.
I would have thought I had nothing to give.
Just last week I could tell Emmanuel Asiko, Back2Back Staff Member, was having a bad day. He lives in the Kisayhip Village, the same village he is working to develop. I asked him what had happened and he informed me a four-year-old boy had passed away early that morning. I asked more questions about it and inquired on how he was really doing. He assured me he was fine. I then asked if he was able to visit a person he was supposed to visit that morning for work. He answered, “No, I was digging the grave.”
I wouldn’t have known what to do.
I’m humbled by these youth. I’m humbled by not only their thoughts towards life but also how they are seeking to live. I’m humbled by youth who would sell their mattress to pay a medical bill for another while I have two beds in my house. I’m humbled by youth who know how to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)
I’m learning to never give up, I always have something to give and there is always something I can do.
Join Brent & Anna Fudge at their upcoming fundraiser, March 31st, for their mission in Haiti.
What: Indoor Soccer Fundraiser for Back2Back Haiti
When: March 31st, 1-4pm
Where: Grace Chapel Indoor Soccer Field, 406 4th Avenue, Mason, OH 45040
RSVP to participate in a game here.
1pm: Adult & Child Soccer Games
3:15pm: Beth Guckenburger/Brent & Anna Fudge to share about our new ministry site in Haiti
4pm: Children’s Soccer Clinic, hosted by Jed Zayner, soccer player
We have been on the ground in Mazatlan for two days now and as always words can’t adequately express the work Back2Back is doing and the ways God is showing up. One of my greatest joys is watching God move on the team and I’m just thankful …I’m able to be a part of it.
Today, we worked at a children’s home at The Salvation Army and we witnessed a young girl get dropped off. She never came outside to enter act with us, but she was extremely emotional. I can’t imagine what was and is going on in her mind… Did she get kicked out? Did her parents split up? Did she have nowhere else to go? What will she be thinking tonight sleeping in a strange place where she doesn’t know anyone? How long will it take her to start to open up to someone? How will this affect the rest of her life? Is this something she get over? Then the I wonder how this will affect her relationship with God… Does she even know God? How will God redeem this? So many questions and so many thoughts run in through my mind and I can’t imagine the thoughts running through hers.
Now we are back at the house and all the way back I couldn’t help but think about my kids and my family. I’m so thankful and grateful for what God has given me. I pray I live my life as the best possible steward of what God has entrusted me with.
God come and pour Yourself out on the team during our remaining time here.
Imagine walking over a mile to school everyday. When you get home from school, imagine walking everywhere you need to go. Now think about what that would do for the shoes that you wear. If you are a child in the Kissahyip Village outside Jos, Nigeria, you are wearing sandals everyday and the shoes that you are wearing constantly are worn with the straps coming off.
Through donations from Back2Back’s Gift Catalog, we were able to purchase new shoes for all of the students at Back2Back’s Education Center through a local shoemaker. You can imagine the excitement among the students when we announced that all of them would be receiving new shoes!
Everybody loves the feeling of new shoes. No matter how many pairs of shoes someone owns, no one can deny the excitement of putting on new shoes for the first time. For the students, new shoes means the ability to stop wearing the old, tattered shoes and know that they will not have to worry about getting their sandals fixed before school in the morning so that they can attend that day.
Something I love about serving here is seeing when ministry areas overlap. SSE (Self-Sustaining Enterprises) works with a Max, a man who lives outside the Kisahyip Village. SSE has come alongside Max as he has started a shoe business. He makes different types of shoes completely by hand. He gives one pair of shoes to a child in the village for every ten pairs of shoes he sells. We love his vision.
Max measured all of the students’ feet and then came with the completed shoes a few days later. They students were thrilled to receive the shoes and run happily home from the Education Center in their new shoes.
The Christian Alliance for Orphans’ annual Summit has become the national hub for what Christianity Today recently called, “the burgeoning Christian orphan care movement.” Summit VIII on May 3-4, 2012 at Saddleback Church in Southern California is expected to draw 1,800 to 2,000 pastors, grassroots advocates, organizational and church ministry leaders. Alongside more than seventy workshops, the unforgettable plenary sessions will include Francis Chan, Rick and Kay Warren, Crawford Lorritts, Dennis Rainey, Steven Curtis Chapman, and other global leaders. Summit inspires, equips and connects for adoption, foster care and global orphan ministry.
Register here and join Back2Back staff at this important event.
The other day one of my students, Jeremiah, asked if I would give him a red pen. I knew he needed it for school, so I gave him one of the many pens that have been donated to the Education Center. He smiled really big and said, “Auntie, thank you!! You always give me the things that I ask for”. I don’t really know what I asked this, but immediately I asked him, “Why do you think I give you those things?”. Without flinching he answered, “Because you are my Auntie.”
His response got me thinking. He claimed his relationship to me to be the reason why I give him things. I started to think about how much more a father desires to provide for his children and give them good things when they ask. A father longs to provide for the needs of his children. If we believe in God and have proclaimed him to be Lord of our lives, we are His sons (and daughters). Romans 8:15 says, “But you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.””
I just finished reading a book called, “The Birthright” by John Sheasby. The book discusses the concept of being a child of God and what that allows us access to in Him. In the book, John Sheasby discusses the story of the prodigal son, but talks about it from the viewpoint of the older brother. He quotes Luke 15:29, which says, “But he answered his father, “All these years I’ve worked like a slave for you. I’ve never disobeyed one of your commands. Yet, you’ve never given me so much as a little goat for a celebration with my friends.”” The author goes on to explain how sad it is that the older son never knew the power of what he had access to through his father. All he had to do over all the years was ask his father- and whatever he wanted would have been his. He had total access to his father’s riches, but never thought to ask for it- he just did his work and went on with this daily life.
Think about this for a second- we are children of God. We have access to everything that is His. All that we have to do is ask. Just as I gave Jeremiah a red pen because I am his Auntie, God wants to give us good things because we are His children. My point in all of this is that I desire for us as Christians to see the power that we have as children of God. We have total access God’s abundance. He desires to provide for us because we are His children. The best part of all of this is that He knows what we need. It is a good thing that I do not have to figure out what I need and don’t need because I don’t know the whole picture – but God does and He gives what He knows that we need. Praise the Lord for our closeness in relationship with Him!
Back2Back Nigeria provides academic assistance and tutoring to children in the Kisayhip Village outside Jos. Last fall, we opened our doors to the Oasis Education Center to expand educational opportunities for the local orphans and impoverished children. By improving education and providing sponsorship, the children of Jos will have a brighter future.
Last December I wrote about a boy named David. Fifteen, no desire to work, or study, or follow rules…and you can guess where that got him. David had a lot of things going on – both inside and out. He has lived at the children’s home since before he could walk. The only family he has ever known is his older brother, and the directors of that home. For lots of reasons, it is no wonder that his life might look a little messy, yet even in the midst of all that, God was giving me just a glimpse of the potential that was inside this boy. I knew that God had a lot more up his sleeve for this young man.
As the months went by we knew little of David. But thanks to the modern wonder that facebook is to all of us, from time to time I was able to shoot him a message, and let him know we were praying…but that was about it. But rarely would I hear anything back. And then, all of a sudden, in mid to late November David initiated chatting with me via Facebook one evening.
In the morning I remember waking up and thinking. Yep, it’s true, it’s not a dream. David showed up at our house last night, and he’s sleeping on the couch. Why now God? We have 20-some women here for the rest of the week, don’t I have enough going on right now? How will I have the time necessary to devote to him today. Silly me, I should have known that God already had that all figured out.
A few months ago, I was hanging out with a few girls in the Rio, an impoverished Mexican community that Back2Back serves. We serve these families, mostly single moms, because they are literally at the cusp of making the difficult decision of whether or not they will choose to place their child in one of the children’s homes. Our goal is to help them to provide for their children’s basic needs, preventing them from reaching the point where they need to drop off their children at one of the homes.
At one point, my conversation with the girls turned to the topic of reading. I asked them if they ever get read to at home. They both said no. I knew both the girls had several books in their home, because I had brought them out in a donation. I asked the girls where they books were and they said “on the shelf.” I praised them for this, because taking care of items in the Rio is not always a priority. We had a conversation when I first brought the books out about where to keep them and how to care for them. So I was pleased to see that they had done this. However, when I asked how many books the girls had read that week the answer was, zero. When I asked why, they reported that they weren’t allowed to take them down from the shelf because their grandmother knew I was going to come by and she didn’t want to take a chance that the books would be ruined before my next visit.
I sighed internally as I realized that this family didn’t understand the reason for the books. I remembered the library programs that I participated in as a child growing up in Oxford, Ohio. Almost every summer we would set reading goals and earn prizes for the books that we read… I wondered if Sara and Monse needed a little motivation like I did when I was little. I asked for a scrap of paper and scrawled out a one week reading chart for the girls. “Try to see if you can read one book a day or if your grandmother can read one book a day to you for the next week,” I said. For added motivation I let the girls borrow some of the children’s books I had with me in my car. “Next week when I come, show me what you have read and you can borrow some more books.” I then talked to their grandmother to make sure she understood that the books were for the girls to read, regardless of whether or not they got messed up.
The next week I drove up to Sara and Monse’s house and was greeted by the girls proudly standing outside holding up their reading charts. “We did it every day!” They shouted. Each girl got to pick a lollypop as a prize then we sat down to talk about the experience and to read a book out loud together. It was wonderful!
The next week even more kids showed up and the same thing happened the week after. I now have about six consistent students every week! I set up a very basic library system, where the kids can check out and return books. The best part is that the kids are reading or being read to and that there are books entering their homes. I’ve even noticed some of the teenage boys standing at a distance where they can hear the story I’m reading to the children yet still look cool! They were only given away when they too started laughing at the funny parts.
I have several Christian books and some children’s Bibles that I let the kids borrow. Sara told me one day that her grandmother loves the Children’s Bible best of all.She reads it everyday to her granddaughters. Yajiara borrowed a Max Lucado book one week that illustrated the story of our Heavenly Father’s love for us. She said that her mom started reading it and loved the story. Her mother read it over and over several times that week.
I’m excited to see where this literacy program goes! Two months later and the kids are still excited about reading. I can already see that he kids are enjoying reading and that their parents are being influenced too. Compared to when we first started, the children are now very engaged in the stories I read aloud. They are making their own predictions and making connections to the text… two very important skills for readers to know. I also love to see them being responsible for the books they check out. We have only misplaced a few! They have read most of the books in my collection and I am in need of more!
Please keep us in your prayers! Pray for the kids’ enthusiasm to continue to grow as they discover the joy of reading. Pray for the ones who struggle with reading to continue learning. Pray for parents to continue to be on my team with this. Pray for more children’s books in Spanish. Pray for me to have wisdom to know how to teach and encourage these kids.
Ephesians 4:4-7 says, “We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future.” This Christmas season, we are grateful for you and your commitment to joining us in providing care for today and hope for tomorrow to orphans around the world. We rejoice that we serve a God who is in passionate pursuit of the orphan child. As you gather with family and friends to celebrate, thank you for continuing to remember the orphans we serve. On behalf of all of us at Back2Back, thank you for being a part of the Back2Back family and for serving alongside us!
As a medical team of forty-six people invaded our campus for three short days, we witnessed a new meaning for our mission of bringing “care for today, hope for tomorrow” or orphans and children in need. These doctors and nurses met immediate needs, such as prescribing medicine for runny noses and sore throats, while also providing comfort and reassurance to those with fear of a future with diabetes. It was a marathon of a weekend, but it allowed many individuals who had never seen a doctor in their lifetime to receive answers and medicine, making tomorrow seem more hopeful. It was a blast to have an entire “medical army”! I loved witnessing them use their talents as they furthered the Kingdom – one runny nose at a time.
The Juniper Tree Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to assisting orphans and widows in need. In October 2008, through a grant from the Juniper Tree Foundation, the Juniper Tree Clinic was established on the campus of Back2Back Ministries in Monterrey, Mexico in order to meet the physical needs of the children served by Back2Back. Back2Back Ministries is an international Christian non-profit organization that provides care for orphan children and impoverished people across the globe, serving over 1,000 orphans and families in Monterrey alone.
The orphanages that Back2Back and the Juniper Tree Foundation serve lack funding to offer the children basic medical care, such as routine check-ups and dental visits. Most illnesses are left untreated unless they are extremely critical. For many of the children, their only access to medical care is through the Juniper Tree Clinic.
The Juniper Tree Foundation facilitates opportunities for American medical professionals to meet this practical need, by participating in short-term medical mission trips, providing vital services to orphans, as well as impoverished families in surrounding communities.
A short while ago, we had the privilege to help out in a child rescue case.
Actually, there were tbree siblings under the age of 8 years old that were brought to us by their mother, through a friend of ours. For privacy reasons, I won’t go into all the details but I can say that all three of these kids were in physical danger. They had no home and were living on the streets. But I am so thankful that ever since they were brought to us, they have been safe, well fed, cared for and loved daily.
I remember what my friend who brought them to us told me on the day that we met them. He said, “Jim, I was made for days like today!” As every paramedic or fireman knows, there is a rush when you assist in a real live rescue! There are many aspects to orphan care ministry. There is education, physical, spiritual and emotional development. All of these things are part of what Back2Back does as a whole. But when you are able to be there in that moment of a young child’s life and be a part of changing their destiny, there is contentment. I know for sure, that on that fall day in 2011, we saw the future change for those three young children. They were literally snatched from the hands of Satan and placed in a place where they are not only protected but are free to grow in their knowledge of Christ as their True Savior.
Yesterday, I was reminded of this as I was worshiping in the church at Casa Hogar Douglas, a children’s home that Back2Back supports. I turned to my side and there was the oldest child singing out loud the songs of the redeemed. He was singing them as one who knows!
This Christmas, give a gift of hope to an orphan in need. Choose from dozens of items in our gift catalog to help the children that Back2Back serves in Mexico, Nigeria and India! Your gift will bring hope to an orphan this Christmas.
View it here.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Back2Back Ministries!
We truly cannot praise God enough for the ways in which He has blessed and provided for our ministry this year. These successes would not be possible without your commitment to partner with us. As we look toward the future, we are excited about how God is working through Back2Back Ministries and thankful for your willingness to come alongside our work. Please know that you are a part of our Back2Back family and we truly appreciate your love and support of the orphan child. Please keep the children we serve in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.
Recently, Milagros, a young woman in an impoverished community we serve, graduated from beauty school with help from many friends of the ministry who answered a leading of God’s voice.
This journey began about three years ago when an audiologist came to visit the Rio community where Milagros lives. He met her and her mom and was moved by God to help Milagros, who is deaf and has learned to use her own version of sign language. During the course of the three years, God provided her with hearing aids to help her hear sounds for safety. She attended school to learn sign language. After about 1 1/2 years in beauty school, she has graduated and got her degree. She very well may be the only one in her community who has graduated from anything.
Milagros means miracle in Spanish. I know Milagro’s mom has seen her name come true in many times throughout her life, especially so several weeks ago at her graduation. Graduation day was full of presenting her work, judges results, dinner, along with mingling with teachers, friends and family. Milagros was quiet, humble and yet exuded confidence as she presented her model who had makeup, hair, nails, etc. all done by Milagros. Her teacher spoke for her to explain to the judges all Milagros had done. You could see communication had not been a problem between her friends and teachers.
When she went up to accept her diploma, there was not a dry eye at our table. God clearly has a plan for this girl. Now, we are trusting that God will lead her to a trusting employer. Because of her unique style of communication Milagros needs to have a secure place to work, a place where someone won’t take advantage of her. Pray that God will lead her to this place.
The last few months have been busy for the Kisayhip Youth Development (KYD), a community youth outreach program sponsored by Back2Back. The KYD has sought the best way to give back to their community. Our hope is to guide the discussion for their own discovery of how they can best give back. So far these discussions have led to several ideas for the group.
One idea they are working towards is raising chickens. This work can quickly become profitable and is easy for a group to manage. KYD has been looking for ways to make money to begin this project and is currently molding mud blocks to sell with plans to use the profits to benefit the community.
The second idea they have is one Back2Back hopes to partner much more with them on. Back2Back and KYD want to use dry season farming in community development. Dry season farming is very profitable here but not done very much do to lack of resources. We hope to provide some of the missing resources so KYD can reap the full benefits of the project. The goal is to help the individual youth in the project eventually be able to break off on their own and farm for a living.
KYD has three things they want to do with the profit of these projects. One third of the profit would go to community development projects such as paying school fees for children, providing food for widows and helping to bring electricity to the village, among others. Another third would be individual sustainability for the youth who work the specific project, so the work not only benefits the community but also the youth by providing jobs. The final third is for project sustainability where money would be used for maintenance and further project development such as increasing the number of chickens or amount of land they farm.
Back2Back realizes as KYD moves forward with these projects the individuals in the group need to progress in their personal development as well. One area of greatest need for development is biblical character and integrity. Because of the rampant corruption that has spilled it’s way into every area of life in Nigeria the youth have very few good examples of character and integrity. To combat this, Back2Back staff member and national, Daniel Asama, is leading weekly talks about biblical character and integrity with KYD. He uses practical examples to call them to a higher standard of living. We hope this higher standard becomes the example and eventual “status quo” in the village.
Please continue to pray for the youth in KYD who are stepping out in faith to bring sustainable change to their village.
The ever-growing statistic of 163 million orphans in the world tells us that there is plenty of work to be done to serve “the least of these.” Back2Back desires to not only be a
voice for orphan children but to also go where God leads to serve them directly. In the last year, God has been leading Back2Back to launch a new site in Mazatlan, Mexico,“The Pearl of the Pacific.”
The opportunity to serve in Mazatlan has come through our ministry partnership with Riverview Church in Lansing, Michigan, who has been supporting and taking trips to children’s homes in Mazatlan for a number of years. As Back2Back has expanded its ministry sites, we have created a process for new site development, which is a strategic approach to thoroughly researching the site and prayerfully considering our calling there. Back2Back has taken two exploratory trips to the area and we feel like God has orchestrated and ordained our visits there. We know of six children’s homes in the Mazatlan area and have visited and begun relationships with the directors and caretakers in five of the six homes. The directors and caretakers all share a deep love of God and a deep desire for the children in their care to experience a brighter future. We have also made a connection with a social worker from the DIF, Mexico’s Department of Children’s Services.
On our most recent visit, we spent time with three pastors of local churches in Mazatlan. We are confident that we will be able to partner with these churches to help meet
the needs of orphans in Mazatlan. This fall, two boys from one of the children’s homes there, Rancho de los Niños, will be coming to Monterrey to be a part of the Hope Education Program. This fall, Back2Back is making decisions about staffing for the new site, contacting possible partners to champion the ministry in Mazatlan, taking another trip to Mazatlan to look for staff and mission team housing, and continuing the relationships with the children’s homes. The goal is to have staff on the ground at Back2Back Mazatlan the beginning of 2012 and hosting mission teams of up to twenty-five individuals.
If you have questions or would like to know more about how you can partner with Back2Back Mazatlan, please contact J.J. Lail at firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-250-8296.
This Christmas, give a gift of hope to an orphan in need. Choose from dozens of items in our gift catalog to help the children that Back2Back serves in Mexico, Nigeria and India! Your gift will bring hope to an orphan this Christmas.
Look for the gift catalog in the mail this month or you can view it here.
MASON, OH – The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) announced today the accreditation of Back2Back Ministries of Mason, OH.
ECFA accreditation is based on the ECFA Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™, including financial accountability, transparency, sound board governance and ethical fundraising.
Back2Back Ministries joins a growing number of Christ-centered churches and ministries across America, supported by over 35 million donors that have earned the right to display the ECFA seal. When an organization is accredited by ECFA, it demonstrates its willingness to follow the model of biblical accountability.
“We are pleased to include in our membership a ministry committed to being a voice for orphans and poverty stricken people,” said Dan Busby, president of ECFA.
Founded in 1996, Back2Back Ministries (www.back2backministries.org) exists to love and care for orphans and impoverished children by focusing on the whole child in meeting their physical, spiritual, educational, social and emotional needs that they may overcome their life circumstances and break free from the cycle of generational poverty, so each one experiences restoration to a life of purpose, becoming fulfilled, mature Christian adults.
To learn more about Back2Back Ministries and their stewardship opportunities, visit ServantMatch®, ECFA’s program that matches God’s servants with the stewardship options of ECFA members based on ministry sectors and categories. It is ECFA’s newest online feature that allows you to quickly and easily find giving opportunities.
ECFA, founded in 1979, provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with the ECFA Standards pertaining to financial accountability, fundraising and board governance. For more information about ECFA, including information about accreditation and a listing of ECFA-accredited members, visit www.ECFA.org or call 1-800-323-9473.
November 6th is Orphan Sunday, a day created by the Christian Alliance for Orphans to honor the 163 million orphans in the world. Below are a few thoughts from the Christian Alliance for Orphans. For more information and resources, visit the Orphan Sunday website.
Back2Back supports the Christian Alliance for Orphans in a shared passion for caring for orphans. The Christian Alliance for Orphans unites orphan-serving organizations and churches to ignite passion and build excellence for Christ-honoring orphan care, foster youth and adoption ministry.
Thoughts on Orphan Sunday from the Christian Alliance for Orphans
Orphan Sunday is November 6th.
On November 6, 2010, Christians will do something we’ve never done before. We’ll stand with a united voice across America and beyond for the orphan. Our prayer is that this Orphan Sunday will be remembered as the day that launched a revolution. Building on the many ways God is already stirring, local events across the country will help catalyze heart change…and action. We anticipate hundreds of events that will touch thousands of lives. Clearly, God is calling many to a revolution in response to the Biblical mandate to care for His precious children. How will you be part of this historic day? An Orphan Sunday activity can be a Sunday morning sermon or prayer…the launch of an orphan initiative…a small group gathered to pray… a Sunday school class or youth group event.
Ten Ways Every Christian Can Care for the Orphan and Waiting Child, Thoughts from Hope for Orphans
1. PRAY for them
– Tape a waiting child’s picture to your dashboard and pray for the child every time you’re in a car. Visit AdoptUsKids.org or RainbowKids.com. Organize an evening prayer vigil at your church and pray for children in foster care or an orphanage overseas.
2. SPEAK UP for them
-Carry a waiting child’s picture and show it to other believers. Ask if they, or someone they know, would give this child a home. Become a court appointed special advocate for a child in foster care. Visit NationalCASA.org for details.
3. PROVIDE for their needs
-Give sacrificially to a reputable orphanage. Financial gifts can be designated for specific items and aid needed by orphans. Visit HelpOrphans.org for more information. Organize a drive in your church to collect school supplies for children in foster care or shoes for orphans overseas. Visit GainUSA.org or ShoesForOrphanSouls.org.
4. SUPPORT those who support them
– Mow, baby sit, or organize meals for a week for foster parents. Pray with them and tell them you appreciate what they do. Encourage a family adopting an older child by hosting a shower for them. Partner with an orphan care organization or ministry.
5. PROTECT them from harm
-Become a foster parent or emergency foster parent. Raise money to build a children’s home to help remove children from the streets. Visit WorldOrphans.org for details. Support an existing children’s home. Contact email@example.com to find out how you can help!
6. VISIT them where they are
-Go on a mission trip to an orphanage as an individual or family. Support reputable orphan care organizations on a regular basis.
7. GIVE sacrificially to them
-Contribute generously to an adoptive family to help offset their costs. Visit ShaohannahsHope.org or LifeSongForOrphans.org.
8. ENCOURAGE them to press on
– Sponsor a child, support them financially, and encourage them through your letters. Contact Back2Back Ministries (513-754-0300) if you are interested in sponsoring one of the children that we serve. Become a mentor or tutor to a teenager in a foster group-home.
9. ADOPT them into your family
-Give a child a home through international, domestic, or foster care adoption. Adopt a young adult who has aged out of the system.
10. MOBILIZE your church for them
-Be a catalyst in your church for starting a sustained orphans ministry. Visit HopeForOrphans.org for resources and to learn more about attending a Your Church and the Orphan™ workshop. Organize a church mission trip to serve at an orphange.
I’m sure that you’ve heard a million times that reading is fundamental to learning. Imagine a 3rd or 5th grader trying to tackle his math word problems for homework but has no idea what the problem is because he can’t read so he waits for you to read it to him and help him set up the math. This scene is far too common place for me to stomach sometimes. But orphans in orphanages don’t always get the amount of individualized attention they need to succeed academically. This is a huge deal when you consider that the ticket out for these kids is their education.
When I was little, my mom took me to the public library every single week to pick out all my favorite books. I recently tried to find my original copies of all my favorite childhood stories and realized that we never actually owned most of them but rather we just checked them out of the library over and over again. My mom read to me before bed. As I got older, she required that me and my siblings read for one hour every summer afternoon – like it or not. She was onto something here…
Day after day here at the institution I work at, seeing the night and day difference between my academic upbringing and the snip its of time orphans receive for reading instruction – if at all – got me thinking. Add to the situation the fact that public libraries in Mexico are a foreign concept for the kids.
I am in charge of different dorms of kids on different days so I decided about a year ago to start incorporating reading into my day with the boys. It was easy with the little guys because they love sitting in your lap and hearing a story read out loud but I was nervous about the 9 to 12 year old bunch. They have surprised me because they actually love it. They laugh as they comprehend funny parts of the stories. They smile. They don’t hate reading like I thought they would. We read out loud for 20 minutes. These 20 minutes which can sometimes go on for an hour when certain boys want to take their 20 minutes of reading individually by reading out loud to me is honestly my favorite part of my entire day with this dorm.
Many of the books that we read on a weekly basis have been donated my several of you. Thank you for shopping online or in bookstores for children’s books in Spanish. Thank you for donating to these childrens’ future.
This beautiful little girl is Betty. She is nine years old, and is one of the sweetest girls you’ll ever meet. She is the oldest of three sister who came to live at Casa Hogar San Jose almost a year ago now.
In December of last year, shortly after her arrival, we met a family from Michigan who happened to be in Cancun on vacation – and it just so happened that this family wanted to get to know Back2Back, and see what we were up to in this corner of the world. We picked them up from their hotel and spent a few hours together. Together we spent some time at Casa Hogar San Jose, and they met Betty. That morning God made a special connection between Betty and the family’s young daughter.
Their family decided to sponsor Betty through Back2Back’s Shelter Child Sponsorship Program and then in return we help facilitate on-going communication through letters between Betty and the family. During our trip to the midwest in August, we were able to get together with this family in Michigan who have not only become advocates for the ministry, but friends of our family as well. At the end of our visit their young daughter gave us a little tiny purse with a note attached and asked if we could take it to Betty when we got back to Cancun.
We had the thrill, honor, and privilege to come alongside an incredible ministry, Back2Back, and partner with them to use a free dance camp in the children’s homes to communicate that Jesus is pursuing the heart of every girl, calls them His princess, heroine, daughter, and His beauty. We are back from our trip and awestruck, even still, at how such an incredibly awesome God would allow us three to be a part of sharing His crazy, wildfire love to the orphan girl using dance as the vehicle.
We pray with every fiber in our being that the message we shared has begun to take root in their hearts and that these girls really begin to believe into the truths that there really is a Kingdom, there really is a King, and we really are His princesses. And most of all, that this is no fairytale. Every day in class, the girls prepared for the recital to be held on Thursday night. The evening of the show came, they were both excited and nervous as they walked to the pavilion where they would perform. The space was packed with an audience of children’s home staff, Back2Back staff, and short-term mission workers. As each dancer was introduced, the audience erupted with cheers and held up signs with their names. Then the sweet girls began to dance – from the boisterous two-year-olds, to the shy fifteen-year-olds – spinning, jumping, all joyfully praising their heavenly Father.
They were all lovely, and you could see in their faces as the crowd cheered them on, that they believed it too. They had such confidence in their carriage and in their eyes, just like princesses. After the performance, Beth, Back2Back’s director, murmured through tears, “It was so amazing to see these girls feel beautiful.”
After all, isn’t this how God wants all of his daughters to see themselves -completely captivating, and totally adored? One of the sweetest moments we were able to witness was the girls engaging in an activity to love their friends in a tangible way on day four of camp. They drew names from a hat and made princess crowns for one of the other dancers. We circled up when everyone was finished gluing on the last gem or affixing the last, perfect sticker to their friend’s crown. Then, in that moment, they begin sharing life giving messages and words of encouragement to each other that they thought on while assembling the crown. The girls said things like “You are beautiful”, “You are smart”, “The King is captivated by your beauty” as they placed the crown they made in the hand of their friend. It was such a sweet moment as they learned and were witness to the power of speaking truth into someone else’s life.
There were endless smiles, little girls growing taller with confidence as older princesses of Jesus crowned them and spoke life over them. There’s something beautiful that unfolds as you watch one princess speak to the heart of another…and watch them receive it in full confidence. As much older princesses of Jesus, we as women hesitate to receive compliments or encouraging words. These girls took the gift and allowed it to bless them. If only we allowed the Lord to do the same moment by moment. We might just have that same skip in our step too…
Generous supporters of Back2Back donated backpacks a few months ago. Because the students will be starting school next week, we passed out the bags to them on Thursday. I wish we could have captured their excitement in a bottle! Their grins were ear-to-ear as they received the backpacks. Most of these children have never owned a backpack. Most of them have spent the past few years walking over an hour to school and carrying all of their books in a plastic bag along with them. The fact that they were receiving not only a backpack, but a new one from America made them ecstatic! It is so neat to see how many people God uses to bless these beautiful children from a village in Africa. I have no idea who all was involved in sending these bags, but the students felt loved and blessed because of it. Please continue to pray for the children, as they start their new school year at the Oasis Education Center.
Back2Back Nigeria provides academic assistance and tutoring to children in the Kisayhip Village outside Jos. Last fall, we opened our doors to the Oasis Education Center to expand educational opportunities for the local orphans and impoverished children. By improving education and providing sponsorship, the children of Jos will have a brighter future.