Join Us in Honor of Orphan Sunday

September 23, 2011

November 6th is Orphan Sunday, a day created by the Christian Alliance for Orphans to honor the 148 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 claire@back2backministries.org 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.

A Difficult Day, by Cathy Huffer

September 19, 2011

These are the kids with whom Jesus is now staying.

Some of the children at Manantial de Amor with the directors of the home

All names have been changed in the story.

So many emotions went through my head yesterday. You see, I thought I was just going to help out a friend from the Rio and a couple hours later I’d return home. Good deed done and nothing different. Boy was I wrong.

Diana is a girl who must be 26 or 27 years old. She lives with her six year-old daughter and her boyfriend. Truth be told in my three years working at the Rio 1 community (a poor neighborhood of wood, tin and scrape houses that people have built along a riverbed), I maybe have seen him a time or two. And the one time I saw him, he was drunk. Diana is my friend. She is quiet and hardly speaks unless spoken to. In fact, I learned more about her and heard her speak more words yesterday than in the three years combined since I met her.

Meme, a Christian leader in Rio 1, had told me that Diana had a brother who wanted to go to a children’s home and asked if I could help them get to Manantial de Amor. This children’s home is about twenty minutes from their house and is one of the closest to them. I said sure, not really thinking through what I’d experience that day.

When I went to pick them up, I saw a smiley twelve year-old boy who spoke few words. It must run in the family, I thought. Diana was glad to see me and asked Sarah, her daughter, to hurry along as she went with us. As we drove there, I tried to start the conversation with simple questions asking them if they had the paperwork they needed, asking Jesus if he was nervous.

To my surprise, he quickly answered, “no.”

But Diana volunteered, “I am.”

When we arrived at Manantial de Amor, Mama Cony, the director, asked “So are all three of you wanting to enter in the children’s home?”

Twenty-six year old Diana is not even five feet tall so I knew she had asked the question innocently. We explained that Diana was there with her daughter, Sarah, to see if her brother, Jesus, could enter the children’s home. It was then that the hard questions came.

“Do you have custody of your brother?,” said the children’s home worker.

“No, not really, but I’m the one responsible,” answered Diana

“Where’s your Mom?”

“She died 9 years ago?”

“And your Dad?”

“He abandoned us before Mom died,” she explains.

“Where is your Dad now?”

“He does drugs and is an alcoholic. Hard to say for sure.”

“So Jose has been living with you?”

“He’s been living with me sometimes and my other sister sometimes. She’s younger than I am. We can’t afford to continue to raise him and he really wants to go to school.”

The questioning reveals that Diana is not married, and her boyfriend hardly gives her enough to raise her daughter. As we sit there, I realize that he has brought nothing with him except his papers (birth certificate and school papers).

The worker says something that puts a lump in my throat.

“So let me see, his birthday is….tomorrow,” he states, but it almost comes out as a question.

What a 13th birthday memory he will have, I think to myself.

As they finish the interview, he is brought two pairs of pants, two sets of underwear and three shirts. He is shown his bunk bed that will be his new home. The worker does a great job of explaining the responsibilities that the home has to him, including visiting rights that she will have. He explains that they want to maintain a strong relationship with him and his family. The lump comes back in my throat. He also explains that the responsibilities Diana has include signing up Jose for free public health insurance and not taking him off the property for fifteen days, etc.

When he finished, she looks to me and says, “Now what?”

Her voice cracked.

I was grateful that the worker answered quickly, “You can stay as long as you’d like but you’ll need to say goodbye sometime.”

When it came time to say goodbye, Jesus seemed strong. Not seeming sad at all. I remembered another child that we work with once tell me that he never gets homesick. The sad feeling that I felt when I heard that swept back over me as I wondered if he no longer gets homesick. Then I looked at Diana, I’ve never seen a lot of emotion on her face before either. But I could see it now.  She didn’t want to show her hurt to her brother. You could see the effort she was putting into being strong for me. As for me, I was crying for them both. I knew Jesus needed this home. I knew Diana was grateful for the opportunity her brother would have to go to school and eat well. Still I also knew that if they could they would trade it all to be together. Today was Jesus’ birthday. I found myself thinking and praying for him all day long.

“Do not be discouraged. Do not be afraid for I the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I pray this promise over Jesus and all the kids that we serve. I have a new appreciation for the workers who don’t just provide clothes and food, but so often are there to wipe away tears, listen, pray with and over children, to teach them that Jesus Christ is the only one that can change lives. Sometimes we experience difficult times with others. I used to try and avoid it, now I see the blessing in being a part of the intimate moments of people lives. Yesterday I thought I was going to run errands for a few hours. But what God had for me changed my life. Lord, help me see what you have for me tomorrow.

Interested in an Internship with Back2Back?

September 16, 2011

Back2Back summer interns gain practical hands-on ministry experience by serving at our sites in Mexico, India and Nigeria.  Interns work alongside Back2Back staff members and assist behind-the-scenes to host summer mission trip groups.  Interns help to facilitate daily work projects at local orphanages and outreaches to impoverished communities, contributing to our mission of providing care for today and hope for tomorrow to orphans. The program includes discipleship and leadership training directed by Back2Back staff members.   Back2Back offers options in terms of length; selected candidates can request to intern for one-month or two-months.

All internship positions are unpaid.

The deadline for Mexico summer 2012 internship applications is October 21, 2011.  The deadline for Nigeria and India internship applications is October 7, 2011.

Interested? Email Chelsie Puterbaugh at chelsie@back2backministries.org to request an application for a Mexico internship.  Contact Chris Ramos at ramos@back2backministries.org to request an application for an India or Nigeria internship.
 
Hannah Cessler (far right), Back2Back India 2009 summer intern

Back2Back India summer intern ministers to local girls.

 
Back2Back 2009 intern spends time with a local girl in Nigeria

Back2Back Nigeria intern spends time with a local girl in Nigeria.

2009 Nigeria intern hanging out with a girl from the village near the Back2Back Nigeria base

A Nigeria intern spends time with a girl in the village near Back2Back Nigeria.

 
During a work project

Interns participate in crucial work projects at the children's homes we serve.

Spending time with the children

Interns make meaningful relationships with the children we serve.

One-on-one time with the children

Interns enjoy one-on-one time with the children we serve.

A Fresh Start: New Students Enter the Hope Education Program

September 1, 2011

This fall, we welcome six new students into the Hope Education Program.

L to R, Top to Bottom: Jonathan, Eliud, Paloma, Kareli, María Luisa, Paty

Through the Hope Education Program, we offer students from children’s homes a way to continue their education when free public school ends at ninth grade. The students stay on the Back­2Back campus in homes with staff families (house parents), experiencing a healthy family life. Students are mentored, provided with an education, and encouraged to pursue their dreams so that they can become self-sustaining individuals.

Already, they are being faced with the challenge of learning how to navigate the public transportation system to and from their new schools. They are attending schools with some of Monterrey’s wealthiest families and are being challenged to compete academically and blend in socially with this new crowd. Additionally, they are learning to manage new jobs on and off campus to help pay for their transportation. We are excited to say that the seasoned veteran students in the Hope Program have extended a warm welcome to the new kids on campus and are showing them the ropes. We are full of anticipation, eager to see how the Lord will use us and the teens who we have already invested in to shape and mold the new students. We are hopeful that with the start of an education, the love of a family environment, and the encouragement of other believers, that these seeds have landed on fertile soil ready to grow.

A Brighter Future, Back2Back Nigeria

August 26, 2011

Last fall, we opened the Oasis Education Center in Nigeria, to expand the educational opportunities of the local orphans and underprivileged children like Happy. New Back2Back staff member, Theresa Reed, and a local teacher hold classes each day, leading a supplemental tutoring program, enabling children to learn the basics in reading, writing and math during after-school hours.

This summer, we launched our child sponsorship program in Nigeria, giving the children at the Education Center an opportunity to benefit from the support of a sponsor.  Thanks to the generosity of Back2Back supporters who believe in our mission, within weeks, almost all of the children had sponsors within weeks of launching the program in Nigeria.  Through the care of Back2Back and the support of loving sponsors, each child has health care, balanced meals, a safe place to learn, and ultimately a brighter future.

Children at Back2Back's Education Center are now benefiting from child sponsorship.

This week, several new children joined the Education Center.  If you could like information about sponsoring one of these children, please email claire@ back2backministries.org

A Singing Shepherd, by Theresa Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

August 19, 2011

The shepherd boy watches his sheep outside the Nigerian village where Back2Back serves. He is on the far left of the photo in a white shirt.

A few weeks ago, I was on the rocks that overlook the village with a few of the interns. We broke off and had time on the rocks alone for a while. During this time, we were serenaded by a little shepherd boy. He was joyfully singing to his herd on the grass below us for a couple hours. He was so happy and his singing endlessly with pure joy! I was reading in my devotional book today about how God is our shepherd and it reminded me of this little boy.

“We are… the sheep of His pasture,” Psalm 100:3

“My sheep hear my voice,” John 21:17

I have always thought of The Lord as my shepherd, but it was not until I saw this cheerful young shepherd singing to his flock that I realized how joyful shepherds can be. Why have I not thought before that my God, the Great Shepherd not only speaks to his sheep, but it does it joyfully… singing even!? What a joy it is to hear the melodious voice of my great Shepherd!

The shepherd boy lays next to his sheep singing to them (far left).

The image of the little boy laying on the ground peacefully, singing loudly and trusting his flock to enjoy the green pastures  has given me a new view of how The Shepherd tends to His flock of children. He trusted the flock. He knew that they would stay where he was because they knew and were familiar with his voice. This is our God. Our God loves his flock and them (us) to follow His beautiful voice and know that it is good. Praise the Great Shepherd for this great reminder!

Lola, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Monterrey, Mexico Staff

August 5, 2011

Lola had lived at the government children’s home for close to a year before I met her. She had been removed from her home as a teenager due to abuse from her mother. Now Lola is 17. Despite her background, she smiles and laughs and engages with others.

While I was at Back2Back’s site in Cancun, we took Lola and others from her children’s home to the beach for a fieldtrip! These kids are not able to get out much, so for them a trip to the beach was quite the adventure.  While we were smearing sun block on one another at the beach I fell into an amazing conversation with Lola and don’t know if I will ever be quite the same…

A beach field trip is a rare treat for this children's home in Cancun

While we slathered on the SPF 30, Lola began to tell me that the director of the children’s home was thinking of placing her once again with her mom. When I asked how she felt about that she told me that she was nervous. After suffering abuse at the hands of her mother, she didn’t have much confidence that it wouldn’t happen again.
“However,” she told me, “I know that wherever I am God will never leave me. He is always with me.” I looked at Lola a bit surprised. She was not living in a Christian facility, how did she know this?
“Wow!” I said, “You are absolutely right. The Lord will never leave you nor forsake you, but how do you know that? Have you been to church before?”
“No,” she answered, slathering the sun block on her shoulders, “I’ve never been to church.” Lola glanced around as though making sure no one would overhear.  “You see,” she said, “I have dreams.”
I stopped rubbing in the sun block on my nose. My curiosity was immediately peaked. What did she mean by ‘dreams’?
“When I go to sleep at night I dream about God,” she told me. “I know that He is my Father, that He loves me. I know that He created me and that He loves me more than anything else He created.”
“You are so right on,” I said, so surprised by all she was saying that a large glob of sun block dropped from my hand to the sand. “Has anyone ever told you about the Lord?”
“No, nobody ever has.”
Shocked, I put the sun block bottle down altogether. I asked if Lola she had ever dreamt about a man named Jesus Christ.
“Oh yes,” she said, filled with joy. “I know that He died for me and because He died I am alive. He lives in me.”
Really shocked this time at how Sunday-school-perfect her answers sounded, I asked again, “Are you sure no one has ever told you this?”
“No,” she said. “I have dreams.”
“Okay Lord,” I prayed. “I’m going to stop doubting now. Why couldn’t you speak to Lola with dreams?”
For some reason, my limited brain only allowed space for this sort of thing to happen with unreached tribes in Africa, but here He was showing Himself in a very personal way to His beloved in a children’s home in Cancun. We talked all through the salvation story. Lola tracked with me the whole time, agreeing with what I was saying like she had known it all her life.
“The story doesn’t stop here,” I said, “There is someone called the Holy Spirit who had come to help us. Have you ever had dreams about the Holy Spirit?”
“Oh yes!” replied Lola with joy in her voice, “not long ago I was laying down in my bed in the dorm at the children’s home. It was night and we had a fan blowing in our room. I felt the breeze blow around me and it felt like huge arms that were embracing me. Then I saw a white dove and I heard a voice that said, ‘I am the Holy Spirit. I want you to invite me to live in you and be your guide. You need to listen to my voice and follow me. Don’t follow any other voice. I am your guide.’”
I stood there dumbfounded on the beach, in awe of Jesus! He had spoken every part of who He was to Lola. He had revealed Himself to her without anyone else in the middle. This abused teenage girl had an authentic relationship with Jesus and was being led by the Holy Spirit because Jesus cared that much about her. He cares for the orphan and loves them so much more than we do. He revealed everything to this girl and I was there simply to confirm that it was God. I felt my Spirit struck with the revelation that He does not need me at all… but that He has graciously invited me in be a part of His story.
Lola and I spent some time praying together on the beach. I prayed for her continued growth in the Lord and boldness to share Him with the other girls in her dorm. I asked if she had a Bible and she said no I explained that the Bible was an additional way for her to learn about God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and offered to get one for her. I don’t think I have ever seen someone so excited! She was literally jumping up in down in the sand and hugging me.
“You would do that?” she said. “I would love a Bible!” Arrangements were made the next day to purchase one for her.
This was my highlight of the two weeks I spent serving at the Back2Back site in Cancun! God is so big! He is so good! He is fully capable. He takes care of His own.
UPDATE:
Below is a photo of Lola with her new Bible from Back2Back.  She is eager to begin to learn more about her Heavenly Father through study of his Word.

Lola is eager to begin learning more about God through her new Bible

Kisayhip Youth Development, by Will Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

August 2, 2011

children from the Kisayhip Village outside Jos, Nigeria

Recently, I was approached by a small group of young men from the Kisayhip Village who told me they wanted to have a meeting with me. I asked them what it was about and they said it was about a group they had put together. We set a time and place and I left excited at the thought of what it might be about.

Last Monday, I was able to meet with this group and hear what they were thinking and what their group was all about. They said they created the group, “Kisayhip Youth Development”, to serve the community. They said James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” They said they wanted us (B2B) to work with them to create ideas and ways to serve the community. I left thinking, “They are getting it!”

The youth are beginning to catch a vision for their community that is bigger than themselves, one that requires they come together to pile ideas and resources to go into their community and serve. This is community development in its very beginning stages. They are starting to catch a vision as a community and start moving toward making it a reality together with Christ as the focus.

I told the young men we would be with them every step of the way. I told them as they start something we would come and stand with them in support. Whether that means physically doing work with them, providing part of a financial need, teaching or praying we will stand with them to serve their community.

Of all that I said this one thing made the biggest impact: people in the United States are praying for you and the work you are beginning. They found great joy in knowing they are not alone, that people whom they’ve never met care enough about them and their community to pray. Our time ended with a few on the interns who were present and myself gathering around the young men to pray for them and their community.

Please join me in praying for the Kisayhip Youth Development and its leaders Joe, Ayuba, Nehemiah, Gideon, Samuel and Marcos.

Working with “the Beautiful”, by Matt Cooper, Back2Back Cancun Staff

July 29, 2011

With each visiting missions team over the summer we had the privledge of partnered with Pastor Victor in his ministry out in Tres Reyes. The name of Vicotor’s church is “La Hermosa”, which means Beautiful – and for us it has been the beginning of a beautiful friendship with the pastor, with his church, and with the neighborhood.

Over the course of the summer we were able to tear out the hold floor, to back-fill the necessary areas, to pour a new concrete floor, to assist with resources for a temporary roof, and to help begin a new bathroom at the church. Each week we were there we also had a chance to visit with neighbors and invite kids back for the church’s children’s program. When we invited kids back we had a chance to do songs, games, some skits, and provide them with an afternoon meal.
What I think I loved most about the summer was getting to see more of pastor Victor’s heart and passion for the Lord, and for the lost of Tres Reyes. I loved seeing that God encouraged him through the support, and through the relationship. And I love that God is smiling upon this little place called Beautiful!

A Balanced Meal, by Mindy Webster, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 15, 2011

Enjoying fresh grapes with lunch

Many of the children’s homes that we serve lack the funds to purchase fruits and vegetables. A normal lunch or dinner in a children’s home consists of rice, a tortilla, and eggs, beans, or ground beef.  These foods are inexpensive and easy to make in the large quantities three times a day.  As a result, the children’s diets lack essential vitamins and nutrients that are found in produce. However, the Shelter Child Sponsorship Program is enabling the children’s homes to begin to provide more balanced meals, supporting the growth, health, and development of the children.  The children’s homes are now purchasing fruits and vegetables on a regular basis.

At Casa Hogar Del Norte, the children had grapes, watermelon, and a salad to go with their lunch.  The children were especially excited to have fruit with their meal.   They view it as being a special treat, since until recently, they rarely had it. The caretakers didn’t have to ask the children to eat their fruit. In fact, after finishing their portion, they were all asking for more!

Neighborly Love, by Nate Gangwer, Back2Back Nigeria Intern

July 11, 2011

 

A few weeks ago we began our first project with another team.  We spent the entire day doing projects at the Oasis Community Center in the Kisayhip Village of Jos, Nigeria.  The majority of the team painted the community center with a primer coat to get ready for the Back2Back team next week.  The rest of the group split in two and some worked on clearing the roadside gutter to prevent flooding during the rains and the rest of the group moved a significant amount of gravel, rock, and sand for concrete mixing an building to the other side of the compound to make it easier for future deliveries and a more central location for work. In the midst of the pounding heat we were able to completely prime the building, move all but a handful of the big rocks, and dig out a majority of the roadside.  Feelings of accomplishment ran high as we finished out the day sitting on the porches watching a thunderstorm roll by.  These types of achievements not only help boost our moral, but really help to show the community the importance of taking care of facilities and thinking a few steps ahead of the current problem.

Nigerians are a wonderful people with a tremendous sense of community and perseverance, but have been trampled and pushed down by exploitation, which turns into a terrible foundation of traditions.  A large part of community development lays in finding pride not only in your neighbors and family, but also in the actual land and buildings.  Loving your neighbor does not always entail saving them from a horrible plight or devastating circumstance, but more frequently, and perhaps more importantly, loving your neighbor means literally doing the small things that you desire for yourself for them.  If I want my yard or my house to be clean then how I love my neighbor is also desiring (and acting upon) their yard or house to be clean.  The motivation moves from being self-centered to community centered and Biblically obedient.  By partnering together and serving those around us who are incapable, either by a lack of resources or a lack of know-how, we are not only serving them we are serving Christ and following the model of love He exhibited for us and commanded of us. Oh, how wonderful it is to worship in work and service!

Becoming President, by Gabo Velasco, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 7, 2011

When ten-year old Adrian was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he responded with “the president of Mexico.”  Martha, the director of Del Norte Children’s Home who posed the question, was impressed but knew what this would require of Adrian: the ability to read.  Martha made it clear to Adrian, that if he was really interested in being the president, he would have to read a lot.  From that moment on, you could count on finding Adrian tucked away in a nook somewhere in the Del Norte library reading one of the many books the library has to offer him. In fact, even a year after this conversation,Adriancan still be found in the library preparing for his presidency.

Adrian, enjoys a book at the library

With each visitor that arrives at Del Norte, we are certain to give them a tour of the library, emphasizing the importance of reading, encouraging each guest to spend an hour or so of their visit reading with a child.  Through this initiative we have seen the children’s reading skills improve, even finding their interest in reading growing as they now enjoy reading on their own.  Other local groups, individuals from churches and universities in the city who visit Del Norte are joining in these efforts, coming alongside the children as they develop their reading skills.  As we strive to improve the reading skills of the children, we are hopeful this will plant a seed, assisting in developing them to become successful youth and eventually successful adults.

Play with Purpose, by Mindy Webster, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 1, 2011

This summer, the Back2Back Child Development Team rolled out a new program for groups from the US to participate in at our Monterrey, Mexico site.  We spent the year studying child development in institutions like children’s homes, looking at what the Bible says our response to the poor and orphan should be, and how we can make a deeper and lasting impact in the lives of the kids we serve.  We did a lot of staff training and read a lot of books.  Now, we are finally ready for some action steps!

The first thing we’re doing is to request that groups no longer bring candy and dollar store presents (like silly bands or little trinkets) to hand out to the kids.  Most people do this because they want to connect with a kid and make a difference in their lives but don’t always know how or don’t know Spanish.  So, instead of candy and gifts we’re doing Play With Purpose!  These are planned out activities and games that bring the group members and children together and develop a variety of skills.  Some are just physical because our kids need regular exercise.  Some are to work on social skills, some are educational, and some are Bible lessons.  After four weeks we’ve seen  great success!  Yesterday, a group took nail polish and all the goodies to do a big spa day for the girls in a children’s home.  They got the royal treatment soaking their feet in warm soapy water, foot and hand massages, and pretty nail polish.  Those girls felt like princesses, which is exactly who God says they are: beautiful and valuable princesses of His kingdom.

Group members read with children at a children's home library, thanks to the generosity of ministry supporters.

Working on puzzles teaches spacial awareness and problem solving skills.

Alonna plays jump rope with children at Manantial de Amor. Physical exercise is a huge piece of child development that kids in children's homes are often missing.

Hope Program Students Explore their Heritage, by Juan Porto, Back2Back Hope Program Director, Monterrey, Mexico

June 27, 2011

Our Hope Program students recently traveled on a five-day field trip to Mexico City.  This trip was intended to serve as an opportunity to expose the students to the historical and cultural background of Mexico. We visited the anthropology museum, the historical center, the National Palace, the ruins of the Templo Mayor, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Palace of Fine Arts, the Paseo de la Reforma, the Pyramids of Teotihuacan and the New Museum Soumaya, which has recently opened and is already considered one of the best art museums in the world, with over 16,000 works of art. The museum has works comparable to Dali, Degass, Van Gogh, Picasso, Tamayo, Diego Rivera and many others.

On our way back from Mexico City, we stopped in Galeana. This town is home to three of the boys from the Joseph House, a Hope Program home on the Back2Back campus. It was exciting to let them show off their town and some of their relatives in that town.

We were able to thank God for the opportunity to travel together and discover more about Mexico. I also enjoyed watching them try different foods and adapt to new experiences. They had great attitudes even when they were hot or tired and gained a tremendous amount of appreciation for their heritage.

I was very happy to share the history of our country with the boys and to collectively learn how to create a better society for our future.

Through the Hope Education Program, Back2Back offers students from children’s homes a way to continue their education when free public school ends at ninth grade. The students stay on the Back­2Back campus in homes with staff families (house parents), experiencing a healthy family life. Students are mentored, provided with an education, and encouraged to pursue their dreams so that they can become self-sustaining individuals. To learn more about contributing to Back2Back’s Hope Program, please contact our US office at 513-754-0300, ext 1707.

A Heart for the Widow, by Nate Gangwer, Back2Back Nigeria Summer Intern

June 20, 2011

Today marked a more substantial beginning to the activities we will be doing in Nigeria. Anna, Reed, and Emily observed and helped in the OCC (Oasis Community Center) Education classes to help prepare them for the next few weeks of helping teach and tutor a handful of kids from the village. The rest of the team split off into two groups and walked through the village informing widows on an outreach we will be doing on Saturday. The outreach will consist of giving and installing mosquito nets on the beds for the widows and any children they care for in their homes.

Personally, it was a very humbling yet joyful experience to get to meet with the widows and interact even for a brief time and limited communication. Thankfully each group had a translator to help with effective communication. Throughout the time walking I could not help but think of God’s immense heart for the poor, widowed and orphaned . Throughout the Old and New Testament, God’s desire is that the underprivileged and socially forgotten be taken care of in the same way that He loves us. Paul writes so eloquently of this fact in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 when he discusses the generosity of Corinth in comparison to Christ. Paul discusses how Jesus gave up the majesty of heaven and made Himself poor for our sake.  Chapter 9 instructs believers how to respond in similar ways with cheerful hearts and willing sacrifice.

I have spent a lot of my time praying Ephesian 3:14-21 for my time in Nigeria and that the power of the Holy Spirit would give me understanding of knowledge that surpasses understanding so that God can reveal the depth of His love for us. When I think about these two passages I cannot help but feel a swelling of joy in my heart when I remember the time spent today meeting the widows and other members of the village. I pray that God would continue to mold hearts into a deeper understanding of His love so that He would receive all the glory for our good.

NASCAR Driver, Michael McDowell, and Back2Back Ministries Team Up to Promote Orphan Care on July 7

June 10, 2011

Join NASCAR driver, Michael McDowell and Back2Back director, Beth Guckenberger, Thursday, July 7 at 7pm at Crossroads Community Church in Cincinnati. McDowell will be sharing his passion for NASCAR and the orphan child at this special event. Beth Guckenberger will be sharing stories from her new book, Relentless Hope, which will be advertised on McDowell’s race car.

Pre-registration is required for this free, limited seating event.  To register, send an email to NASCAR@back2backministries.org with your name and phone number.  Those guests who register by June 27 have a chance to win two NASCAR Garage and Pit Passes for the Nationwide Series Feed the Children 300 on July 8th and the Sprint Cup Series debut with the Quaker State 400 on July 9th at the 107,000 seat  Kentucky Speedway.  You must be 18 years of age or older to be eligible to win.

Glendale, Arizona native Michael McDowell has emerged as one of NASCAR’s top young drivers, as he competes in his third full season of NASCAR. In December 2010, McDowell joined Trevor Bayne, Daytona 500 Champion, on a Back2Back Ministries mission trip in Monterrey, Mexico. On his trip, they visited orphanages and a squatter’s village. He saw people living in shacks and many of the children didn’t have shoes – some were completely naked – and he couldn’t help but wonder if he was supposed to be on the mission field. After serving orphans with Back2Back, Michael McDowell and his wife were inspired to pursue an international adoption.

“Seeing such hardship firsthand makes you want to be pro-active,” McDowell told the Christian Post. “How do you get involved? How do you save the world? You don’t, but you can make the difference in somebody’s life.”

By losing himself in the arms of orphans, McDowell found perspective in his own life. He’d seen real hardship and it broke his heart.

Hope Program Student Outreach, by Ruby Moyer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

June 6, 2011

A few weekends ago, a few staff members took the Hope Education Program students who live on our campus on a mission trip to an orphanage about 1 ½ hours away in the desert. We loaded up two Back2Back vehicles with food, luggage, work supplies, and teens to try a new adventure. None of the teens were sure what to expect but we wanted them to experience what our work teams experience when they come to Back2Back.

The teens took turns helping prepare meals and clean up and they all were very willing to help! The morning started with breakfast, quiet time, a small group time, and then prep to leave.

We headed out Saturday to the nearby pueblo (small town) to do a work/outreach project. The clinic needed repair and we painted, did electrical work, and repaired doors, etc. There were lots of children hanging around watching. We handed out lunches to these same children and ate together. After a day of work, our teen girls had prepared a kind of Bible School for the local children. They had a Bible story of David and Goliath and an art project, and games. I loved watched our teens faces as they played and helped the children. There were so many smiles everywhere!

Meanwhile, we also gave out sheets, towels and food to the women of the village.

The day ended with us circling around and praying for the people who had come out. I watched as our teens lay hands on the children and prayed over everyone and my heart was full of joy!

That evening in debriefing almost everyone of our group said they hadn’t been sure about this trip and didn’t really want to come, but their minds had been changed and they loved it!

Sunday we visited a local church and went back to hang out a little more with our new friends at the children’s home. I know I saw some tears as we pulled away to head back to Monterrey.

What an amazing opportunity for these teens who have mission groups coming to them and serving them, to go out and do the very same thing! God is moving in them and they are learning to serve Him. They are ready to go again!

Through the Hope Education Program, Back2Back offers students from children’s homes a way to continue their education when free public school ends at ninth grade. The students stay on the Back­2Back campus in homes with staff families (house parents), experiencing a healthy family life. Students are mentored, provided with an education, and encouraged to pursue their dreams so that they can become self-sustaining individuals. To learn more about contributing to Back2Back’s Hope Program, please contact our US office at 513-754-0300, ext 1707.

Root Issues, by Will Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

June 3, 2011

I have been spending a lot more time in the Kisayhip Village, near our home in Nigeria. I’m slowly becoming more and more accepted in the community as I become a more regular visitor. The other day I walked in to find several children playing Red Rover and not one of them stopped to come over, they just continued to play and acknowledged my presence by smiling and waving. I enjoyed knowing that as I’ve become more familiar, they don’t feel the need to drop what they are doing to come greet me.

As I’ve spent more time in the village, I’ve begun to see more and more issues that I think need to be addressed…everything from marriages and childcare to medicine and personal hygiene. Each time I’m made aware of an issue I think, “If we could just help that, it will help everything.”

For example, of the approximate ten young men who come to bible study, five of them can’t read or write. I’m not talking about reading and writing in English, they can’t read or write at all, in any language. So, I start thinking…if they can’t read, they can’t study the bible on their own. If they can’t study the bible on their own and don’t go to church on Sunday because of work, when do they ever get any sort of teaching? If they don’t get any teaching, how do they apply it to their lives and take it back into their village? The cycle continues to spiral down.

What the Lord brought to my attention recently is that all of the issues the village is facing are “fruit” issues. They are what we see, taste and smell as we walk through the village. They need to be addressed, but addressing only the fruit is an endless task. If you don’t treat the root of a tree the fruit will always remain the same or simply be absent.

What is the root issue? How do we “treat” the roots?

Luke 13:6-9 is a parable Jesus tells in which the owner of a vineyard demands a tree to be cut down because it has not produced any fruit in 3 years. In verse 8 the vinedresser (man in charge of taking care of the tree) says, “…leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.”

I believe the root issue of the village, as with every community, is spiritual. The people need Jesus. They need to know who He is and what He did for them. They need to know what it means to be sons and daughters of God.

How do I figuratively dig around a village and fertilize it? All I know to do is pray and love. Please join me in praying for direction in this.

Introducing Back2Back’s 2011-2012 Theme

May 31, 2011

This year, Back2Back is exploring the idea that God is the true Source of Living Water. We’re asking ourselves and our visiting short-term groups, “What source do we tap into when we have come to the end of ourselves?”  Join us as we discover what it means to draw from Living Water in our own lives and offer it those around us in our communities. Take a peek at our new Bible Study here.

Standing Back2Back with Nationals, by Matt & Julie Cooper, Back2Back Cancun

May 27, 2011

Through a series of God-events, we have met a pastor by the name of Victor.

Pastor Victor

Pastor Victor has a small church in a neighborhood named Tres Reyes. Tres Reyes is the same neighborhood where we have been helping Noehmi’s family build a house.

Victor has a desire to reach the people Tres Reyes for Christ. He has a desire to see the Kingdome of God grow. He has a desire to begin to feed children in the neighborhood but he needs someone to stand in the gap with him.

We believe that God has led us to Pastor Victor for this season. God has opened a door – and once again we’re walking through it.

With the visiting missions teams we will have over the next couple of months we are going to be helping Pastor Victor with some projects on his church, and assisting him in outreach to the children and families that live in this extremely poor neighborhood. We look forward to working together as we feed the hungry, love the needy, and bring hope to the hopeless!

A Back2Back staff member surveys the property with Pastor Victor

Showing Some Love, by Caroline Burns, Back2Back Mexico Staff

May 23, 2011

Bathtime with more than one child can often get a little crazy. Imagine trying to shower and dress ten boys ages 3 to 8 at one time by yourself. I like to think of it as organized chaos.

It didn’t take me too many weeks of this to figure out that if I don’t have tear-free kids shampoo, about half of the boys would refuse shampoo with violent tears oddly enough. So now I’ve made it a mission to make sure that every week these boys have kids shampoo and kids toothpaste.

After bath time, one of my boys saw me putting one a day’s worth of shampoo for ten boys from the full size bottle into a small bottle that we leave within their reach. If you leave the big bottle down there, inevitably one boy will knock it over on accident or pour the whole thing out for his pleasure.

So this boy said, “Why are you doing that? Why are you pouring just a little into that bottle?”

I told him very directly that to me it’s very important that they have tear-free shampoo everyday and that they bathe everyday just like it’s important to me that they have “non-spicy” toothpaste. But if the whole bottle is down there, someone might waste it and then they won’t have kids shampoo anymore.

He said, “Love is when someone takes care of you. That’s God’s love.”

I was floored.

I stopped my mopping of the soaking wet bathroom and looked at him and said, “Do you know that God is trying to demonstrate his love for you by sending people to take care of you? That’s why I’m here. God sent me here to love you. That’s why your full-time care-giver is here. That’s why Sammy loves you (his favorite Back2Back intern).

I told him again for the 100th time that day that I love him very much.

Then, I asked him Sammy’s favorite question, “But, do you remember who loves you more than all of us?”

And he replied without hesitation, “The Lord.”

We then went on to dialogue as I mopped that God will never leave him alone and that there will always be someone to take care of him. This particular child has severe fear issues. He’s always afraid that one of his brothers will leave him or that his mom will never come back. But this child is learning that God isn’t going to go anywhere.

It was a beautiful end to a chaotic daily event.

The Privilege of an Education, by Matt & Julie Cooper

May 16, 2011

Chave (Isabel), Mari and Sofia sitting in their classroom at school

The privilege of going to school seems like a given, especially to attend kindergarten. But what if you can’t afford to send your child to kindergarten? For the kindergarten age children who live at Casa Hogar San Jose, they have to pay $10 USD a week to attend school. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you multiply it by four children, and all of the weeks they attend school, it starts to add up!

Mari, Chave, Sofia and Alexa are four little girls from Casa Hogar San Jose who are all in kindergarten. Thanks to some individuals who gave money at Christmastime through the Back2Back Christmas Catalog, and through families who are sponsoring children through Back2Back’s Shelter Program we were able to cover the majority of this bill for these four girls this year.

Last week, I accompanied the director of the home to the school to make a payment because they had gotten behind a few weeks. When I suggested we just go ahead and pay what they would owe for the rest of this school year the director was speechless. She was both overjoyed, and overwhelmed. Thank you to those of you who have given! Thank you for making it possible to bless this children’s home in this way, and thank you for blessing four little girls, whose education is one of the most important things we can give them.

Partner with us through Prayer

May 13, 2011

Children at El Limon Children's Home spend time in prayer

We invite you to partner with us by joining us in prayer for our ministry.  Find a list of current prayer needs by ministry location below.

CANCUN, MEXICO

-God’s grace and great things to happen here for our first summer of ministry ever!

-For revival in the city of Cancun.

-For changed hearts in us, in those we serve, and in those who come alongside us over the next few months.

-For continued guidance as we move into some partnerships with local pastors in their areas of outreach.

-For God’s provision for the right volunteers, the right staff, the right facilities, and the financial resources to make it all happen!

 MONTERREY, MEXICO

-Pray for God’s continued protection and provision for Back2Back staff and ministry sites as we draw on His wisdom, continuing to exercise safety precautions that reflect the conditions around us. Pray for God’s wisdom to fill government leaders in Mexico who are working to end drug trafficking and further improve the safety of its guests and citizenry.

-Pray for God to meet the groups that are coming this summer in every aspect of their trip, from fund raising to their time in Monterrey. Pray for every moment to be fruitful in their lives and in the lives of those they will serve.

-Pray for all the focus areas of our ministry, specifically as we work for the development of each child holistically and for our local partnerships that are key in what we do.

-Pray for the staff in Monterrey. Pray for the families moving back to the States, and for the staff that will be reporting soon.

– Pray for all the house parents in the Hope Education Program to have wisdom and new ways to connect with their teens in order to lead them to freedom in Christ.

 HYDERABAD, INDIA

-For more staff in India!

– We are currently in the process of enrolling many of the children we serve in private schools. Pray that they will be granted admission.  Please also pray that we can provide tuition fees, text books, and uniforms and find tutors to help them particularly with their English skills.

-Pray for the directors of the childrens’ homes.

 JOS, NIGERIA

– Pray for the children attending our English Program. They are one parent orphans living in a rural village. Pray they would improve their grammar skills and be ready for learning how to read this summer.

-Pray as we build infrastructure and relationships inside the community center with the youth. We currently have one male Bible study and we are starting a female one this summer. Pray a female leader in the community would be raised up to lead the other women.

-Pray the Lord would provide more staff to join our team! We have big vision and need the manpower to sustain it!

The Joy of Reading, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

May 10, 2011

We recently completed remodeling the library at Casa Hogar Douglas. This children’s home for over seventy kids now has a very nice library made possible by a donation from The Rotary Club International and the tireless efforts of many of our ministry volunteers.

I recently read that 94% of the municipalities of Mexico don’t have a library. The reader index for Mexico is the lowest in Latin America. Back2Back is eager to help each child develop a love for reading and ultimately provide them with opportunities to improve academically. I am so excited that these kids will have an opportunity to benefit from the blessing this library will be!

A New Song, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

May 6, 2011

This spring, we have been teaching the children in the Rio about worship. It has been fantastic! A donor supplied us with money to purchase instruments for the children and thus the idea sprang into action. Our heart was to teach the kids not only how to worship the Lord but reasons we have to worship Him! When we truly know His character there is nothing left to do but worship.

My favorite day of our worship unit with the children was when we taught them about Miriam praising the Lord after he saved the Israelites from the Egyptians. Miriam took up her tambourine and praised the Lord with a new song!

Hope teaches the children about how Miriam praised God

After learning about Miriam, we decided as a class that we would write a new song to the Lord just a Miriam did. Back2Back staff member, Cheque, got out his guitar. I pulled out a dry erase board and we began to write a song of praise to the Lord, worshiping Him for the ways that he loves us. Cheque and I started out the song, but in no time the kids were shouting their ideas as well. It was the children who came up with most of the words and reasons why we praise the Lord.

Children from the Rio wrote the lyrics to the worship song

It was beautiful for me to hear these children, who live with very little, shouting out reasons they have to praise the Lord! Oh how true it is! Within twenty minutes our song was done, Cheque had a tune, and we all began to worship the Lord with a new song! We have now added this song to our collection and sing it each week.

“God saved us from the Egyptians

Let’s sing to the Lord

God loves us very much

Let’s sing to the Lord

God created us

God healed us

God protected and provided for us

Let’s sing to the Lord. ”

– Written by the children Back2Back serves in Rio 1

Peeling an Onion, by Mindy Webster, Back2Back Mexico Staff

May 3, 2011

Last week, in our ongoing staff training, we talked about the connection between anger and fear.  The short of it is that most anger is rooted in fear.  Think of anger as a basket of onions.  Anger is that outer onion skin that makes the onion messy and dull but protects the insides.  When you peel off that onion skin of anger, what’s left are layers of fears, like the layers of an onion.  Often, our anger is rooted in a variety of fears.  But if we go deeper and ask God to help us deal with our real root fears, God can take them away and that onion isn’t there anymore.

Juan, one of our house parents, shared with me the impact this made on one of our teen girls in the Hope Program.  She didn’t want to speak English to a visiting group member, even though her English is actually very good.  She said she felt embarrassed to speak English around people.  Juan, armed with this new knowledge and sensitive to a nudge from God that there was more, asked her what she was afraid of.  She shared that she was afraid to make a mistake.  Juan explained to her the onion analogy and said he felt that was a surface fear.  After more discussion, she discovered that deep down inside she is really afraid of being rejected.

She was dropped off in a children’s home at age two, and felt that she must have done something horribly wrong for her mom to reject her.  All her life she’s worked to make sure she’s not rejected again.  She gets good grades in school and does her chores and tries to make everyone around her feel good.  Juan and his wife took the opportunity to share the truth of the Gospel with her, that Jesus never rejects us.  They prayed together and through lots of tears she expressed that it was the first time she felt like she understood what was going on inside of her.  She could see all of the ways in her life that she was working to not be rejected by people, but what she already has is a Heavenly Father who will never leave her.  What incredible hope!  When she stopped looking at the onion skin and looked inside, God’s truth could be revealed and the process of removing that struggle has begun.

Back to School, by Mindy Webster, Back2Back Mexico Staff

April 29, 2011

I don’t usually associate spring time with “back to school” time, but that’s what it’s been for our Monterrey staff!  We realized a need to be more educated on the psychological and emotional issues that the orphan child faces and had a desire to be more equipped to do something about it.  So this spring we went back to school.  We kicked this off with a PhD student from Ohio who came to our campus and gave a four-day seminar on issues like domestic violence and the poverty cycle.  After that, we launched an eight-week Friday morning training series.  We are going through the material that I used to teach to therapeutic or specialized foster parents in the States, and talking about how to implement what we’re learning into our life and ministry here.

Back2Back Monterrey staff learn about child attachment issues as a part of ongoing development training

One of my favorite sessions to teach is the one on attachment issues.  We talked about how children who are abused, neglected or abandoned don’t develop trust and attachment with their caregivers, and how this leads to many problems later in life.  I was sitting down with one of our Hope Program house parents when she mentioned some issues with one of the boys in her house.  We were able to determine that he was struggling with attachment issues, and she now had a variety of ways to approach the situation.  She felt empowered and excited to really help her teenager instead of discouraged or overwhelmed.  It’s exciting to see how this information is changing the way that many of us do ministry here, and we’re only a few weeks in!

King for a Day, by Caroline Burns

April 26, 2011

Living with the boys at Douglas this past summer opened my eyes to sad reality that birthdays for these orphans are often one of the worst day of their year instead of the best. They are a reminder that they are thrown into a group, not celebrated as individuals, that their mom or dad didn’t make their birthday a priority and that they are not a priority to mom because she didn’t visit on their birthday or bring them anything. I was shocked once I realized this awful truth.

Since then, I’ve tried my best to make sure that each of my boys is celebrated like an individual and treated special on the exact calendar day of their birthday whether it is a special movie we watch with snacks or ice cream just for them on their birthday; we sing happy birthday and make them feel special. Every now and then, one of the boy’s Shelter Child Sponsors gets involved in this celebration.  Witnessing this yesterday, warmed my heart because at least for one day, something was right in this situation.

Adrian turned nine yesterday. But about six weeks ago, his Shelter Sponsor made sure that he’d be celebrated on his birthday with some gifts and a card so that he wouldn’t be forgotten. His mom didn’t come. His full-time caregivers hadn’t checked the calendar to know that it was even his birthday (I don’t blame them – this has happened to me before). But his Shelter Sponsors were right there celebrating him even though they were thousands of miles away through their words on encouragement in a card reminding him that he is loved and important to them and to the Lord.

We sang to him, celebrated him, let him pick the movie that day, and then we ate the biggest cake ever. For one day, he was happy all day and for just one day he felt like a king.

Preventative Medical Care, by Kathy Couch, Back2Back Monterrey Staff

April 18, 2011

Childhood is often intertwined with doctor visits.  If all of those doctor visits can sometimes feel overwhelming to a family, just think how they impact a children’s home with dozens of children.  Sniffles turn to colds which can then lead to ear infections.   When left untreated, ear infections can lead to hearing loss, sometimes permanently.

A Back2Back volunteer provides medical care to a Mexican child

Recently, a short-term mission group, comprised of doctors and nurses, provided medical care to the children we serve in Monterrey, Mexico. The team brought an audiometer machine with them for hearing screenings.  We focused on a children’s home in which five of the children have delayed speech or other speech problems.

A Recent Back2Back Volunteer Medical Team

Families benefiting from the services of a Back2Back Volunteer Medical Team

One of the young boys we tested proved to be a surprise to all of us.  We explained how to do the test and demonstrated the procedure for him. He looked at us blankly.  We explained the procedure again, pushed the buttons and again he didn’t respond to our prompts.  At this point, we assumed the machine was broken so the doctor tested the equipment and confirmed that it was indeed working properly. We discovered that the boy couldn’t hear any of the tones through the machine, which explained why this young man had been having discipline problems.  He was easily distracted and had trouble following directions.  We didn’t know it was due to his hearing impairment! After the team left, we took him to a hearing specialist in Monterrey, who uncovered a long-term middle ear infection.  Now, we are treating the infection.  What a discovery!  If left untreated, he would have surely lost all hearing.

The children receive medical care when needed; however, sometimes they have their ears checked without receiving a full audiological exam.  Since children’s homes have limited budgets, preventative medical care is often delayed in order to provide food or other more immediate needs.  The short-time medical groups that serve the children help to meet that need by supplementing their medical care.  We are grateful for this team’s initiative in bringing the machine to test the hearing.  In a few months, when his infection clears up, we will have a very different boy on our hands!

If interested in serving with us on a medical mission trip, please contact Chelsie Puterbaugh at chelsie@back2backministries.org or 513-754-0300, ext 1701. 

A Back2Back volunteer provides dental care to a Mexican child at the Back2Back medical clinic


Orphan Care Summit

April 14, 2011

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 12-13, 2011 ♦ Southeast Christian Church ♦ Louisville, KY

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.

Register here.

 

A Sponsor for Sofia, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

April 13, 2011

Sofia

Five year-old Sofia, who lives at San Jose Children’s Home, an orphanage that Back2Back Cancun serves, is now benefiting from child sponsorship. Sofia, an imaginative girl, loves to draw. She recently created this masterpiece for her sponsor in Pennsylvania.

Interested in sponsoring a child like Sofia, from one of the orphanages that Back2Back serves? Contact Claire Rogers at Back2Back’s US Office at claire@back2backministries.org

Join the Relentless Hope Online Book Discussion!

April 12, 2011

Join us for an online weekly book discussion of Back2Back Director, Beth Guckenberger’s, latest book, Relentless Hope (Standard Publishing). This story-driven book delivers honest testimonies from unique voices. The discussion will start on Tuesday, April 26th on the Back2Back Facebook Fan Page.  A new video from Beth will be posted each Tuesday. Check the Back2Back Fan Page on April 26th for the first video from Beth in this special series!

A Changed Heart, by Daniel Shores, India Mission Trip Participant

April 12, 2011

This email came from an India Mission Trip participant, Dan. He and Jessica have given their permission to share it:

Hello to all the Back2Back Family,

I participated in the India mission this summer. I wanted to write and extend my many thanks and good wishes to you and all of the amazing work you are doing in the world.

As with most mission trips, I know that myself and many of the participants left with almost a guilty feeling of how much we take away and how much the children give us vs. what we do while we are there. But I wanted to share my personal thanks for the experience and the way it has changed my life, my home life and most importantly the way it has helped my wife to connect to a true calling from God.

This trip was Jessica’s first mission trip. She went with a very tentative attitude about the experience she would have, as she is by nature a very reserved person.  I wanted to share that since her return that God has truly touched her in very special ways and opened her heart to mission in a way that neither she or I would have ever expected. Since returning from the trip Jessica has become a member of the mission committee at our church, and with the associate pastor and others on the committee at our church organized a family mission trip for late July where we will be putting on a VBS as well as doing a number of work projects. I watch as God truly moves through her giving her drive and ambition to do his work in the world, as well as a voice to speak about it. Jessica is generally a very quiet person.  However, since being back she has spoken in front of the congregation, her women’s circle, and at our recent mission meetings. Having been married to her for twelve years and knowing that she has never been someone who enjoys speaking in public, I can only say that it is truly the Holy Spirit working through her, and I thank you for the integral role that your ministry played in connecting her to that.

I wish you all of the blessings and joy possible in this world!

Your Brother in Christ,

Daniel Shores
Braddock Street UMC
India Mission team 2010

Jessica, serving with Back2Back in India

Poorest of the Poor, by Matt Cooper, Back2Back Cancun Staff

April 8, 2011

A few weeks ago we were introduced to a family. The social worker from the DIF (Child & Family Services) here in Cancun said she wanted us to meet a family, and wondered if there was anything we could do for them, as they were in a very rough situation.

Fifteen year-old Noehmi, is lower functioning, perhaps mildly mentally challenged. A few months back Noehmi had a baby, and has been receiving some services through the teenage mom program that we’ve been serving back to back with here. Noehmi lives with her younger sister, who is in sixth grade, and her 17 year-old brother, who is no longer in school. These three teenagers live with their elderly grandparents.

The grandfather is not in good health. Their mother has passed away. And their father, who had always supported the entire family has recently been sentenced to prison. The father’s old employer leant a room to the family to stay in.

When the social worker took us out to see the family, we met them in this tiny back room of a house with a tin roof that was caving in over their heads.

“Every time it rains all of our things get drenched,” they explained.

They family had been making payments on a plot of land, but the income from her grandma selling tamales, and the 17 year-old washing car windows at intersections had been barely enough to feed the family, let alone have anything left to make payments on their land, or to build a home.

“So, do you think there is something Back2Back can do for this family?,” asked the social worker.

For a moment, we sat in silence, and I felt overwhelmed, helpless, wondering what I could do to really make any difference. It all seemed so urgent. Yet, I felt like I had no resources at my fingertips, no solutions to offer. And then God brought something to my mind.

Several weeks earlier, a friend of ours on Back2Back staff in Monterrey shared that someone had given her some money and asked her to use it when she came across a situation of the “Poorest of the Poor”. Our friend had shared with us that she praying about where to use the money in Monterrey, but felt that God might equally want to use the money in Cancun, and that we to should be praying and should let her know if we came up with a need.

I was convinced that this was it, this money was given for Noehmi’s family. I contacted our friend and learned that the money was still available. The social worker contacted the land owner of a plot of land the family had making payments on, and permission was given to begin working on construction of a new home for the family – somewhere they could call their own.

I could not have been more excited for the way God put the pieces together and for the way we’re going to have a chance to bless this family in a very, very real way.

Noehmi with her daughter, Miriam

Noehmi's sister, Blanca, making tamales with their grandmother

God’s Provision for Manantial de Amor, by Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

April 7, 2011

Manantial de Amor (MDA) has three different locations. With three light bills, water bills, and three of everything else, they have often found themselves in need. This children’s home has been based on trusting the Lord on a day-to-day basis and as a result of their trust in God and not man we don’t always know of their need.

Last week, the directors, Edgar and Cony, knew that two of the three locations were in need of food, so they led the children in prayer. On the day where it seemed that they would have nothing to eat, Cony went to get a bag of carrots to try and make a soup out of them. Upon her return, she came home to a kitchen full of food (you can see the photos above). Because of a prompting from the Lord, a Back2Back donor contributed money specifically requesting that it be used to feed children in our children’s homes. My husband, Greg, had gone to the store and stocked MDA’s shelves and refrigerator with food. Back2Back along with Manantial de Amor were able to give God the glory as we did not know the need only God did. And He orchestrated the timing perfectly to fill the need of the kids.

I love that God could do this by Himself – He is big enough. But He put it on the hearts of someone in the US to donate money.  And He chose to use Back2Back to be the hands to give, so that in the very time of a great need He could come in to provide for these kids. God cares for these kids. He can prove for you too. Are you struggling to trust Him to provide for you? I pray this encourages you.

Pick up your copy of Relentless Hope today!

April 1, 2011

Enjoy hearing Back2Back director, Beth Guckenberger, speak?

Be sure to pick-up a copy of her newly released book, Relentless Hope, today! This story-driven book delivers honest testimonies from unique voices whose stories are living and real. They don’t all have the “happy endings,” but they all carry truth and hope. Available at your local Christian bookstore and online retailers.

Shaken to the Core, by James Bush, Mexico Mission Trip Participant

April 1, 2011

My recent trip to Monterrey, Mexico has messed with me in the deepest way possible.

Majestic.  Beautiful.  Powerful. I was overwhelmed.  It was Sunday morning at Casa Hogar Douglas, an orphanage, in Monterrey. The aforementioned orphanage would have appeared empty to the passerby if it weren’t for the noise coming from a little building atop the hill there. Inside that building, sixty-eight orphans together with fifty other adults were worshipping God in multiple languages. I was holding a little baby girl. She was an orphan. What broke my heart about that moment was that she was so into worship. Here was a child rejected by her parents worshipping God with all of her might. I knew in that moment that I have often taken God for granted. This little child was demonstrating what it means to really worship the living, active and loving God.

There came a point in the service where we were singing “How Great is Our God” in both Spanish and English and it struck me. God is sovereign over all things. It gave me chills to consider how the God of the universe who spoke and there was…that same God also knows the hairs on every orphan’s head as well as mine. Tears formed in my eyes as I considered the day when I would stand next to those orphans around the throne of God, on the sea of glass and worship with all creatures on, under and above the earth in one loud voice proclaiming, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and honor and glory and praise forever and ever!!!”

This trip to Mexico has shaken my faith to the foundation in the best way possible. May I always approach God with the same passion, love and fervency as those orphans.

 

 

 

 

The Carrot Seed, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

March 29, 2011

The Carrot Seed

” A little boy planted a carrot seed… and the whole world said nothing would sprout.” – The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

For the majority of the children I work with in the Rio the whole world has said they won’t succeed, they won’t thrive, they won’t amount to anything,… they won’t sprout. That is sadly the story of two girls, Sarah and Monse. They come from rough situations and unsupportive environments where they have been told, they won’t “sprout.”

I went to the Rio about a week ago with my tutoring supplies in hand. I hadn’t ever tutored kids in Spanish before, but thought it couldn’t be that much different than the experiences I had tutoring in the States. The three of us girls sat down in the comedor and I pulled out a supply of books that I had with me. The girls looked through the stack and then we all decided on The Carrot Seed (La Semilla de Zanahoria). As an early childhood teacher, I am ashamed to say that I had never read this book before! We cracked open the book and began to read about the boy, the seed, and the disbelief of the world around him.

“His mom said, ‘I fear it won’t sprout.’

His dad said, ‘I fear it won’t sprout.’

His older brother said, ‘ I know it won’t sprout.’ ”

I asked the girls how the boy must have felt. They said he felt sad and discouraged. I asked them if they ever felt like that, or if anyone ever said those types of things to them. They both nodded and we kept reading.

“Every day the boy pulled up the weeds that were growing around the seed and sprayed the soil with water. But nothing sprouted… And nothing sprouted… The whole world said that nothing would sprout.”

“Have you ever felt like the whole world is saying you won’t grow and change and that you can’t do the things you want to when you grow up?” I asked. Again there were silent nods.

“But every day he continued to pull up the weeds and spray the soil with water. And then, one day,… a carrot sprouted…. Just as the boy knew it would.”

The girl’s faces were delighted as we got to the last page! “We knew it would sprout!” they said. “and the carrot is HUGE!”

The picture on this page is priceless. The boy in the story has a wheelbarrow and one huge carrot inside. Not only did the carrot sprout, it was much bigger and better than any normal carrot.

We closed the book and began to talk about how we are like carrot seeds. That sometimes people will say to us, “You won’t sprout… you will never be good at math, you will never amount to anything, you can’t be a doctor, you can never leave this place…” But what did the boy do? I asked.

“He kept working hard.” Was the answer. “He didn’t give up because he knew the carrot seed would sprout.”

“Hmm,” I said, “what do you think we can learn from this story?”

Sarita replied, “That if we work hard and don’t give up, one day the seed will sprout.”

“Good,” I replied. “But there is more than that.”  I went on to explain to the girls that God created them with a purpose. That He has a plan for their lives. That it wasn’t an accident that they were born onto this earth. “It may seem like the whole world is against you,” I said. ” Your mom, your dad, or your teacher may be against you, but God is always for you. He know the plans and the purpose and the future that He has for you. You are special. You are unique, you are dearly loved, and you will sprout.”

The truth is that God believes in these girls and supports them. He is pulling up the weeds in their lives and He is faithful to put water on the soil of their hearts. The whole world may say, “they won’t sprout.”  But God says otherwise….

“I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

And when God sprouts a seed….watch out! It is bigger and better than anything we can imagine!

Sarah and Monse drawing pictures of themselves planting a seed and then the seed sprouting.

Sarah and Monse with their finished stories.

Partner with us through Prayer

March 23, 2011

Children at El Limon Children's Home in Mexico spend time in prayer

We invite you to partner with us by joining us in prayer for our ministry.  Find a list of current prayer needs by country below.

India:

– Pray for the Lord to bring us more Godly staff to serve in India.

– Pray for the continued growth and development of the ministry in India

Monterrey:

– Pray for the Lord’s wisdom and guidance as we seek to grow, develop, and go deeper in the ministry in Monterrey.

-Pray for the new students who are being considered for the Hope Education program in the fall.

Cancun:

-For wisdom as we continue building relationships with local children’s homes/ministry partners.

– For God’s continued leading as we desire to zero in on a specific area of outreach.

Nigeria:

– Pray for the village we work with as we seek to use community development as the avenue of reaching the orphan child.

– Pray for the education/tutoring center that was opened in January. Currently ten students are coming to class four days a week to learn the basics of English. The hope is that this will enable them to do better in their English speaking school.

– Pray for more staff to join our ministry here.

US:

-Pray for our US staff as they provide support to the various missions bases and raise awareness and funds for the ministry.

 

Nigeria Partnerships

March 21, 2011

Self-Sustaining Enterprises (SSE), a partner organization with a focus on micro-enterprise and job creation, is serving with Back2Back Nigeria this week. Follow their trip via their blog at http://sseinc.org/blog