Posts Tagged ‘Beth Guckenberger’

Join us at the Back2Back Family Reunion in Cincinnati!

April 5, 2012

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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!

RSVP here.

First 50 to RSVP will receive a complimentary copy of Beth Guckenberger’s latest book,Tales of the Not Forgotten (one book per family).

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Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Back2Back Ministries!

November 23, 2011

Two orphaned children in Mexico benefit from a nutritious snack thanks to the support of friends of the ministry.

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.

You are Beautiful, by Jen Powers and Jessica Groves, Back2Back Mexico Mission Trip Participants

October 4, 2011

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…

Celebrating right after the recital with a big group shot - beautiful girls relishing in the joy of dancing before their King.

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.

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!

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.

Join us for a Zumbathon!

August 16, 2010

Cincinnati Friends:  Join us on Sunday, August 22nd at 3pm for a Zumbathon fundraiser at the Nisbet Park (amphitheater) by the Loveland bike trail. Bring your friends and family to this fun Latin-inspired workout, led by certified Zumba instructor, Jenna Schroeder.  Special guest speaker, Beth Guckenberger, will share a few thoughts on orphan care.  $10 suggested donation (children can attend for free).

Hurricane Alex Update, by Beth Guckenberger, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 22, 2010

Thank you for your immediate response to our pressing repair and relief needs here in Monterrey, as a result of Hurricane Alex.  As a staff, we have been praying that we would be available in the aftermath of the storm to meet people’s emotional and physical needs.

Thank you for joining us as:
1. We have begun repairs to the Back2Back campus.  We are repairing both existing water damage (to the roads, dorms, walls, etc…), as well as reinforcing existing systems (water drainage, septic systems) so that in the event that we were to have a similar tragedy in the future, our systems would be better able to handle it.



2. We have been providing daily meals to families in Rio 3, an impoverished community that we serve. We have been coming alongside ministry partners in the area, such as Olga and her family, as they have been meeting the needs of the estimated 1,000 homeless individuals in the Rio. This has required both financial and human resources. The rebuilding will be continuing for a while, but with your help, we have been able to offer food, medicine, water and building supplies.

Families line up to receive a meal

A child from the Rio enjoying her lunch

3. In the other Rio communities that we serve (Cadereyta and Meme’s Rio), we have provided meals, clean water, cleaning crews, encouragement and help as they clean out their homes.  The jobs of many in the communities have been impacted by the rain (they collect or recycle garbage for example).  As a result, many have experienced weeks without employment. The staff has been attentive to those needs and grateful for your contributions.

Back2Back staff member, Jim Betscher, shows families in the Rio how to purify their water using Pur water filtration packets

A family receives a food package from Back2Back staff

Connecting with a woman from the Rio during the clothing giveaway

A woman receives a new outfit at a Back2Back clothing giveaway

Clean-up crews salvage damaged items from homes flooded during the hurricane

Hurricane clean-up crews help a family in the Rio pull their car out of the mud

4. Our children’s homes have all been visited by staff and summer groups and most of the clean-up is completed.  The majority of them experienced little physical damage, just water damage and the inconvenience of clean-up.  We have found ourselves continually grateful for God’s protection during the storm.

The hurricane and its effects are still talked about daily in the city.  You can’t drive anywhere without seeing the effect on roads and bridges.  We have been praying and are mindful of our responsibility to speak truth and use this experience to strengthen our own faith, our understanding of the Lord and our relationships with those we serve. Thank you for continually giving us the tools we need to reach out to the community.

Thank You for Your Support!

July 15, 2010

Thank you for your support and prayers in the aftermath of Hurricane Alex.  A few thoughts from Back2Back Directors, Todd & Beth Guckenberger . . .

Giving Thanks, by Todd Guckenberger, Back2Back Executive Director

March 19, 2010

I have been bombarded with questions of safety for the sites we serve.  Many know that it has not been smooth sailing in India, Nigeria, and Mexico and the press does not make it any easier.   I do not have all the answers and the older I get the more and more I realize that there are no guarantees, so I can not promise safety. I can only promise that Back2Back stands by the orphan whether it is easy or difficult. In my lack of having the answers, I am certain that we must pray.  I am not ready to walk away.  I am not ready to let fear win.  I believe in the impact that we have on the orphan around the world, and Back2Back will be relentless no matter how we choose to serve.

Beth and I have been talking about an article by Steward Brisco that encourages people to give thanks in the midst of fear.  This practice works for my 11-year old daughter who can sometimes work herself up with worry.

Join with me in giving thanks for what God has done in the ministry areas in which He has lead us to serve.

Mexico:

Jesus, I give thanks for Your provision for the 500 orphans we serve in Mexico.  I give thanks that regardless of whether or not people go and serve that they will not be forgotten.  You know each of them and that You have counted each and every hair on their beautiful brown heads.  I give thanks that You will “defend their cause”.   I give thanks for restoration of the hearts of the children that we have ministered to over years.  I give thanks that there are men and women on our staff who build into the teens and children we serve.  We are seeing fruit after years of investment.  It is not overnight, but rather through thousands of hours of friction against what the enemy has stolen from them.  I give thanks that some of those teens are now leading Bible studies, raising the bar spiritually for their “brothers and sisters” in the Hope Houses in which they live.  I give thanks for how You have used individuals to support the ministry as child sponsors, offer physical labor, and financially sustain entire orphanages, projects, provide birthday and Christmas gifts.   I give thanks that we have hosted thousands of servants, who have always been safe.  I give thanks that You have always protected our staff, both nationals and Americans.  I give thanks that our staff would only want to be where God has called them.  I give thanks that You have raised them up.  I give thanks to You, Jesus, that You have led us to understand that “sustainability” is what we are about.  I give thanks that we are able to be a part of seeing children get an education and stand on their own, breaking the cycle of poverty.

Nigeria:

I give thanks that in Nigeria You have raised up great nationals and Americans to serve in Nigeria.  I give thanks that You have quadrupled our staff team in less than three years. I give thanks that You have called our team to be there to serve the community of the Rekuba tribe.  I give thanks that You will provide for the neglected abandoned and abused in Nigeria.   I give thanks for the friction we have encountered in our commitment to go “deep not wide”.  I give thanks that You have brought us to serve in the most densely populated nation in Africa. I give thanks that You have led us to be about community development.  I give thanks that You have clarified that there are times when we need to say “no”.  I give thanks that You have provided a large boost of capital to get started.  I give thanks that You are in control and that we do not have to live in fear.

India:

In India, I give thanks that You relentlessly love the orphan child. I give thanks that even in a society that labels the orphan as the least of these that the least of these will come to You and be protected by You.  I give thanks that You are providing free private education for the orphans at EJH hostel (children’s home).  I give thanks that You are not dependent on us to provide for the orphan in India, but still choose to use us.  I give thanks that You have provided money for food from donors who have never even been to India.  I give thanks to You for great stewardship of Your resources. I give thanks for Brent and Lisa who have stepped out to serve You.  I give thanks that You have brought us to a country that has more than 35 million orphans that You call by name.

In India at one of the children's homes Back2Back serves

God’s Story of Redemption, by Beth Guckenberger, Back2Back Staff

March 3, 2010

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at Cincinnati’s Teen Challenge Ranch, where I shared about God’s promise to come after us and pursue a relationship with us, no matter who we are or what we have done.  At one point, I was so impressed by these promises, I lost my composure, and could sense the Spirit’s movement and comfort in the room.  Afterwards, I was deeply moved by the stories and comments I heard from the men and women who are spending the better part of a year there, dedicating themselves to the rebuilding of their lives and breaking their substance abuse addiction.  What courage they demonstrated to me!  I shared a meal with some of the staff after the chapel and we began dreaming about what it would be like for some of the graduates of the program to be able to come on a mission trip.  The obstacle we faced was how to finance such a dream!

Then, this Sunday I spoke at The Next Chapter Church in Southate, Kentucky. They take up, in addition to their regular tithes and offerings, a dollar offering, where they ask the members of their congregation to donate a dollar in a separate bucket to a local charity.  They asked me if I knew of some way they could donate to Back2Back in a way that would allow it to help here locally.  I immediately thought of Teen Challenge, and on that Sunday, we raised enough money to provide a mission trip scholarship for a Teen Challenge graduate to serve alongside us in Monterrey for a week!

I don’t know who it will be, but God does. He is writing a story for one of those men or women that includes a chapter ministering to orphans in Mexico.  I am so looking forward to meeting that person and seeing what that chapter stirs in their hearts.   He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and will easily sell a cow in Kentucky to send a redeemed heart in Cincinnati to minister to one of his children in Mexico.  What a God we serve!

Join the Back2Back Flying Pig Marathon Team or Sponsor a Runner!

February 26, 2010

The Flying Pig Marathon is a city-wide race held annually in Cincinnati, Ohio.  This year, the race is scheduled for May 2, 2010 at 6:30 a.m. and this year, for the first time ever, Back2Back Ministries is organizing a team of runners to raise funds for the needs in our three ministry sites by asking people to sponsor, or “adopt” a runner!  To date, the team consists of Todd & Beth Guckenberger, Matt & Julie Cooper, Tim Couch, Kurt Kersey, and Antonio Garcia Espinosa.  Click here to find out how to join the team and become a Back2Back Pig!  Not a runner?  Sign-up to sponsor a runner here.

Update on the Jepsons, by Beth Guckenberger, B2B Staff

February 19, 2010

Todd and I had the privilege of spending this last weekend in San Francisco, as guests of former Back2Back executive director, Dain Jepson, and his wife Terry.  The Jepsons are serving on the church staff of Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City, California and we were able to spend time with them in fellowship and ministry. I offered a class to the staff wives, we hosted a meeting for those interested in traveling to Monterrey this summer, and then I spoke at three church services on Sunday.

Janet Miclean, Peninsula Covenant Church Pastor to Student and Families, introduces Beth before she speaks to the congregation

Speaking at the Jepson's new church, Peninsula Covenant Church

It was sweet in many ways, for Todd and I to recognize that Dain and Terry have moved “home”, they are close to family and in the same area they met and married twenty-five years ago.

We continue to miss them at Back2Back, but see many opportunities in the future for our ministry lives to intertwine.

Bringing Light to the Issue of Orphan Care, by Beth Guckenberger, Back2Back Staff

February 10, 2010

Todd and I just returned from the K-LOVE radio station’s annual Friends and Family Cruise on Premier Christian Cruises.  We were invited again this year to talk about orphan care on the cruise and join Family Christian Stores’ non-profit organization, the James Fund.  It was an amazing couple of days, as we heard fantastic Christian bands (David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, MercyMe, etc…), held seminars for the guests on orphan care and adoption, and raised thousands of dollars for one of our children’s homes, El Retiro Juvenil.   We met hundreds of people who have a heart for orphans and who are inviting them into their families and traveling to serve them in a way that evidences God’s pursuit of these children.

Like networking goes, we are hoping one door opens another and all the reasons why we were there last week we won’t totally see for some time.  We sure invited a lot of people to come visit one of our ministry sites.  We sent home papers explaining to all 2,600 passengers how they could continue to be involved financially with our ministry.   We fellowshipped with our partners in the James Fund in such a way that work didn’t seem so much like work at the end of the day…  isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?  Colossians 1:10 says “As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work.”  Join us in praying for the seeds we planted…

Steve Biondo, President of the James Fund, and I sharing about orphan care at a seminar

Vision for Nigeria Land of Hope Campaign, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria

December 10, 2009

Back2Back is partnering with Self-Sustaining Enterprises (SSE) in Nigeria.  SSE  has given Back2Back fifteen acres outside of Jos, Nigeria to develop as a Back2Back ministry site with a community center, enabling us to expand our ministry to local children and families in need. If you would like more information about our campaign to raise funds for the development of the land, please contact landofhope@back2backministries.org

It was so encouraging to see more than 100 people show up on a cold rainy evening to hear what God is doing through Back2Back in Jos, Nigeria.  We had our first capital campaign on December 8th in Cincinnati and it felt a bit as if I was attending a family reunion.  I think that is my favorite character trait about serving in this ministry.  Thousands of people have gone to serve at different sites, different times, and for different purposes, but many came together that evening and there was an underlying reality that even if I haven’t met you, I know you and a sliver of your heart.

Corrie Guckenberger, relaying the vision for the Land of Hope Campaign at the Nigeria Open House

Beth & Todd Guckenberger, sharing their heart for Back2Back's ministry in Nigeria

John Guckenberger at the Nigeria Open House

I was just reminded that ten years ago, Todd and Beth had their first fundraiser for Back2Back’s Mexico ministry site at Snyder Farm, the same location where the Nigeria Open House was located. Back2Back has been on quite a journey since then, following the Lord’s calling.  He has done so much that it can be overwhelming to think that He is still at work, moving and stirring and leading us now in Africa as well.

The vision of where we feel the Lord is asking us to go was shared by everyone and it was daunting seeing it unveiled to others.  As we unfold the desire to develop relationships in the Kisayhip Village near Jos and build a host village next door for us as a staff to live, I am too aware that it is too big a project for mere man.  For that reason, I get excited to see God work out the details in His time and in His way.  Our desire is to just be obedient to Him.  We are so grateful for everyone who came to the event, encouraging us, supporting us, and cheering us on.  That is truly what family should feel like.

Back2Back Nigeria Property, "Land of Hope"

A few of the children we serve in Nigeria

Village children saying hello from the Back2Back Nigeria property to be developed

Concert for the Children’s Homes, by Beth Guckenberger & Becca Gantz, Back2Back Mexico Staff

October 26, 2009

Thoughts from Beth Guckenberger:

pureNRG, a music group from Word Entertainment was our guest this past month in Monterrey.

pureNRG

They partnered with the James Fund and Payless Shoes in a marketing co-venture that resulted in thousands of donated shoes for orphans around the world.  Hundreds of those were sent to Mexico with b2b and we were able to do a giant footwashing event that placed new shoes on literally hundreds of children in one of our squatters’ villages. The three members of the group served alongside their James fund counterparts and record executives and reached out to two of our childrens homes during work days and then all of the homes one afternoon for a giant concert.  We began the concert with various children’s homes performing for each other and then culminated in a long set of pureNRG songs and their testimonies.  The children loved the concert, singing and dancing and enjoying the time altogether.  What a treat to labor beside our James Fund friends and Word Entertainment who has brought gifted artists like Mark Schultz and pureNRG to speak out with their voices for the children we serve.  It was a fantastic week and we are all new and loyal fans of this great band!

Thoughts from Becca Gantz:

Has anyone heard of the Christian music group pureNRG?

pureNRG’s mission is to entertain, educate and promote Christian values for young people by using wholesome, uplifting lyrics, along with music and dance, in order to provide a positive role model. pureNRG has been a favorite on Radio Disney and has a top selling album out on Fervent Records. They recently toured with MercyMe, BarlowGirl and Skillet.  Their mission is to entertain, educate and promote Christian values for young people by using wholesome, uplifting lyrics, along with music and dance, in order to provide a positive role model.

The members of the band, JORDAN, CAROLYNE, AND CAROLINE, were just here on a mission trip with Back2Back. We had such a blast with them!  They are super fun, energetic, and eager to serve.

One of the nights they were here, they put on a mini concert for ALL the casa hogars (children’s homes) we serve here in Monterrey. Instead of it being just a concert from them, all the homes had something prepared as a little present to them.  The Douglas girls performed a tambourine routine and the rest of the homes sang a couple of songs.

Performing for pureNRG

I am pretty sure it was all of the children’s homes first time to see anything remotely like a concert. There were a lot of kids, LOTS OF SMILING FACES, lots of food for dinner, and most of all LOTS OF FUN.

Dinner before PureNRG concert

Enjoying the concert

PureNRG concert

I also had the privilege of debriefing them one night after serving at the children’s homes.  These three teenagers blew my mind. Their focus is completely devoted to God and there was no doubt in my mind that God has specifically chosen them, to share the Gospel in such a unique and fun way, for a reason.

pureNRG with children from one of the children's homes we serve

Carolyne and Caroline from pureNRG with children from one of the children's homes we serve

With Jordan, Caroline and Carolyne from pureNRG

With Jordan, Caroline and Carolyne from pureNRG

Hear from the members of PureNRG on their experience in Mexico here, here, and here!

Beth Guckenberger’s Speaking Schedule

August 26, 2009

Beth speaking

This fall, Beth Guckenberger, one of the directors of Back2Back Mexico, will be speaking at several US venues, while she and her family are temporarily living in Cincinnati (through December).  If you’re in the area, please feel free to join us!

October 2-4: NASCAR and Nationwide chapels, Kansas City

October 10: Monterrey, MX with FCS and PureNRG

October 16-17: Intimacy Retreat, Vineyard Community Church, Cincinnati, OH

October 25: Northstar Vineyard Community Church, Cincinnati, OH

October 30: North Cincinnati Community Church, Cincinnati, OH

November 12: Campus Crusade for Christ, Indiana University, Bloomington

December 13: Northstar Vineyard Community Church, Cincinnati

December 15: Hope Church MOPS, Cincinnati

Check back often – the schedule below will be updated as new speaking engagements are booked!  If you are interested in scheduling Beth for a speaking engagement, event or retreat at your church or organization, please contact kate@back2backministries.org to check Beth’s availability and receive additional information.

Wait for the Story, by Beth Guckenberger

August 10, 2009

Last Saturday, when the final week of summer short-term groups arrived, someone handed me a bank envelope of $800 and said it was a gift to the ministry to be used however it was needed.

I immediately pressed, “Would you like this spent on a teen in our program? At one of the Rio squatters’ villages?  For a children’s home?  A medical need?”

The donor responded, “I know it was to be this amount and there are no strings attached.”

When I hear that, I know there is a story coming.  There are instantly a dozen ways I could spend $800 well.  Needs abound in our organization; it’s the nature of what we do and who we serve.  But, I decided to wait on the Lord on this one, so I put the money in our safe, and just prayed for wisdom on how to use it.  Days passed and on Wednesday, I prayed, “God, I know you don’t work this way, but how cool if the donor could see this week where their money was spent.  Just tell me what need you raised this money for.”

Silence.

Later that evening, I was talking to Meme, who serves here with us in one of the squatter’s villages.  She was an orphan as a child and last year became a widow.  She ministers to the families of her community with a grace and resolve that is widely admired.  I finish our conversation and walk away.

“Beth! Come quick!” she yelled.  I turned around to her and gasped.  Her front two teeth had fallen out completely.  She sat there, devastated.

I learn that evening that she hasn’t ever received regular dental care and it had been years since she had her teeth professionally cleaned.  The next morning, I took her to a local dentist office and told them to temporarily fix the problem and then to call me with the estimate of how much it would cost to fix them permanently.  I knew that we would have to raise those funds for her.  An hour later I got a call from the dentist, who reviews with me the lengthy process and multiple other outstanding dental needs.

I responded, “She is a giver of good news to highly unreceptive people.  She needs to be able to open her mouth and speak the truth to them.  Tell me the damages… how much will all of that cost?”

The dentist paused, knowing I would have sticker shock.  “Eight-hundred dollars,” he said.

“No problem. Get started,” I answered with a smile. “Our Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He sold some for her benefit last week…”

I knew the dentist didn’t understand my reference, but Meme sure did, as did the donor when we shared the story with him later that night. Respond to the prompting; pray when unsure; and then wait for the story.

Meme with her new teeth

Meme, after receiving dental care

Trust, by Beth Guckenberger

July 31, 2009

Last week I was at one of our squatter village sites, walking with an unbelievably gifted professional photographer (check out his pictures), helping him capture some images that could translate their world into ours.

During our outreach, a B2B staff member spends one-on-one time with a boy from the Rio - © DSL Images

During our outreach, a B2B staff member spends one-on-one time with a boy from Rio III - © DSL Images

A little girl plays outside her home in Rio III - Photo courtesy of DSL Images

A little girl plays outside her home in Rio III - © DSL Images

Outside their home at Rio III

Outside their home at Rio III

I was struck by the poverty, which I have walked among for a decade now, but some days it can still make the breath in me escape.  Another friend who was with me challenged me to always articulate a theology that reflects the reality of what I am seeing.  Since our theme this year is shelter the question begs How is He sheltering these forgotten people? How am I inserting my ideas of shelter into the Psalm 91 passage? How can shelter be metaphorical, even metaphysical?

We walked a little farther and I saw a little girl, around eight years old, kneeling outside of her shack, filling up an old Coke bottle with water. “Can we take your picture?” I kneel down and ask her. At that moment, I see her eyes for the first time.  Haunted. Hunted. Empty. Lonely.

“That’s the unmistakable look of a sexual abuse victim,” I whisper to my friend.  She was shaking her head quietly, signaling to us to move on.  We honor her and pass by.

A 100 yards later, I turn my head and see a man beside her, big, angry, with a stick in his hand, swinging it, looking at us. “God!” I just cry out in my spirit, wondering what I can or should do.

Shelter. What does it look like? For her? For me?

I come home and search for answers. I want the wisdom to handle myself well when confronted with those situations.  I read promises in Proverbs about searching out wisdom like a hidden treasure.  I am on the hunt.

My friend, Jenny sends me this quote from Brennan Manning’s book, Ruthless Trust.

“The theological arguments that support an interventionary God are many and varied. Frequently people report that they have experienced a physical cure or inner healing. And they have. “Yet” as John Shea writes, “one brutal historical fact remains-Jesus is mercilessly nailed to the cross and despite legions of angels, God did not save him from that hour… This side of the grave Jesus is left totally invalidated by the Lord of heaven and earth. Trust in God does not presume that God will intervene.”  Often trust begins on the far side of despair. When all human resources are exhausted, when the craving for reassurances is stifled, when we forgo control, when we cease trying to manipulate God and demystify Mystery, then, at our wits end, trust happens within us, and the untainted cry, “Abba, into your hands I commend my spirit,” surges from the heart.”

I am there. Even as I write this, I feel the trust swell within me, there are answers to my questions, there is hope for that little girl, there is a theology that understands the injustice in the world.  I don’t have to know all the answers to the when, the why or the where.  I just have to believe in the Who.

The Lost Sheep, by Beth Guckenberger

July 3, 2009

What a great opportunity we had as a ministry to address the enthusiastic crowd of students gathered at the Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati for the Summer of Service Conference. Over 900 teenagers from 14 states came for a week of showing God’s tangible love to the city through outreach and service projects like helping build homes with Habitat for Humanity.  Each evening, the students attended a service with a time of worship and teaching from a speaker.

The evening program that I participated in was full of stories of how God intersected the body with the world.   I spoke that night about the story of Jesus leaving the 99 sheep and going after the one that had been separated.  That he was not satisfied to have almost everyone… his heart was for those that live outside of the flock.  I challenged the students to be a generation not willing to just “party” among the 99, grateful you aren’t lost anymore, but to be willing to go wherever the road takes you in pursuit of that one.  It was a powerful evening and I pray there was interest sowed in their hearts for the fatherless children of the world.

Sharing with the Students at SOS - © Photos by CRT

Sharing with the Students at SOS - © Photos by CRT

Beth Telling the Story of the Lost Sheep from Luke 15 - © Photos by CRT

Telling the Story of the Lost Sheep from Luke 15 - © Photos by CRT

Praying for Students - © Photos by CRT

Praying for Students - © Photos by CRT

After the talk, students were invited to receive prayer - © Photos by CRT

After the talk, students were invited to receive prayer - © Photos by CRT

Vessel, by Beth Guckenberger

June 22, 2009

This week we are being visited by Calumet Christian School out of Columbus.  One of their teachers, Chris, has been coming here for a couple of years and now comes twice a year, once with his school and once with his church. They are a group of men who have decided to focus on one area of our ministry, a squatter’s village we call “Cadereyta”  They are choosing to invest deeply in the people and the mission happening there.   He showed me this video his team put together from their trip in January.

There are so many needs in the world, so many good causes, so many people who would benefit from our gifts, or our time, that some days it’s overwhelming to me to decide where and with whom I will spend my energy.  Watching this video was a good reminder for me that we aren’t responsible for taking the gospel anywhere.  God is already working, we just need to go and show up and be the vessel or extension of His already present pursuit of people.  The lives you see in the video are being impacted by a small group of men from Columbus, Ohio.  It begs me to ask the questions:  Where else can we be a reflection of God’s goodness?  And what obstacles can I remove that prevent me from leaning into an area, relationship or need God might be calling me to serve?

Intercession, by Beth Guckenberger

June 10, 2009

This week I have been reminded of the power of prayer… something that I can overlook as I am busy “making things happen”.

There is a guest here from North Cincinnati Community Church, whose mother, Barbara Shaw passed away this last year. In the final few years of her life, she had a painting hanging in her home of two girls from Mexico. It was purchased at a Back2Back banquet, from a young artist who painted it from a photograph. Barbara didn’t know these girls, had never traveled to Mexico, but saw a role she might play in intercession for them.

The painting was acquired three years ago. Within six months of her intercession, these two girls’ lives drastically changed.

Todd and I have known them our entire stint here in Mexico. When I first met Lupita, she was not even walking. Carolina was a spitfire toddler that caught my attention and heart right away. That was in 1997. Ten years later, in 2007, the girls were in a difficult position (due to the behavior of the oldest) and needed to leave the children’s home. They were without any other family or resources, so Todd and I took them in. They began to live for the first time in a family.

These last couple of years, as they have become our foster daughters, we have all grown in our understanding of family. There have been steps forward of growth and grace, and steps backwards. I am trying to understand what ‘shelter’ really means – God’s shelter over our family, our extension of that shelter over the girls, the rest He promises for us there.

This week, Mark, Barbara’s son, showed me a picture of his mom, opening up the painting for Christmas. I couldn’t stop the tears. Carolina and Lupita love Jesus. They love our family. They love each other. They love the community here. Their lives today are radically different than the day she opened up that painting.

What role do I think her prayers played in that? I honestly don’t know exactly, but the evidence stares me in the face every night across the dinner table.
I displayed the picture Mark gave me on our fridge and last night I told the girls this story. Carolina immediately had tears in her eyes, still stunned by a God who has left the 99 to go after her in such a relentless way. Lupita’s eyes got really big, and she spoke first, “God has always loved us, hasn’t he? Even before we loved Him back.”

Barbara with the Painting of Carolina & Lupita

Barbara with the Painting of Carolina & Lupita

Welcome from Todd & Beth Guckenberger!

June 1, 2009

Welcome to Back2Back Ministries Official Blog!  Staff from Mexico, Nigeria, India and the home office in the US will be sharing their thoughts on life, God, faith and orphan care.  We invite you to come alongside us in our journey and share your thoughts and comments!