Posts Tagged ‘church’

Following God’s Whispers: A Week in Mexico with Back2Back, by Mariel Beausejour, Back2Back Mission Trip Guest

February 2, 2010

A bus of American high schoolers pulls up to a church in one the darkest most impoverished neighborhoods of Monterrey, Mexico. Boys playing fútbol pause, well-worked women drop their conversation to observe, and little girls holding hands skip to find new friends. But beyond the many people standing all around us-some with shy smiles, others with hard stares- are shacks built from boxes. Packaging material for various foods I eat on a regular basis is the shelter that these people call home. We huddle into the sunlight, our knees shaking beneath our many layers of clothes, and see children dressed in well-used jackets and pants filled with holes. They are the very people behind the statistics I have heard for so many years. The poorest of the poor. Here was my chance to answer the call I had felt God so firmly press on my heart- a chance to spread his love to those society does not love, to bring freedom to those in bondage, and to feed the hungry and clothe the needy.

With some of my new friends in Mexico

After handing out hamburgers in a church packed with babies, children, older sisters, mothers, and grandmothers, and trying to use my limited Spanish to create an instant relationship with several of them, I was feeling a little awkward and extremely inadequate. Just then, a little girl, who I hadn’t seen yet, came and grabbed my hand. She said a few things really fast and then led me outside. She took me down, into an unfinished/barely started cinderblock building. I asked her what the building was and she said “una casa.” I asked whose house it was and she replied “No se.” For anyone reading this who doesn’t speak Spanish, this means “I don’t know.” Although this was a little unsettling, she seemed sure of herself, so I continued to follow her up onto the roof, which was lined with re-bar, and completely empty, other than an old wooden bench. She led me to it, and I took out a pack of UNO cards- which ended up being the most valuable thing I packed. Kids kept coming as I taught her how to play it, circles of kids around us, just watching, and hoping to get in on the game.

Later, I found out that this building was the new addition the church was building, with the help of organizations like Back2Back. The vision of the pastor and the dozens of women who volunteer at the church is amazing. They truly understand how God intended that the church should function- as a light in a dark world. Our decision to follow Christ is not a selfish one. It has great implications for us and our lives, but it takes a great deal of sacrifice. We must count the cost of being His disciple before we follow Him, because we can’t have an amazing relationship with Him if we continue to live our life as we wish. We have to surrender our own agenda, and pick up the lifestyle of the kingdom. We are the church. We should be living for God and others- feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick- bringing the riches of our compassionate God to the ones He longs to hold, talk to, and provide for. The pastor who planted this church in the Rio could have easily planted a church in a nice neighborhood, with an economically stable congregation, and a nice thick tithe. But he didn’t, he laid down all worldly desires in order to follow His whispers, and meet God where He has always been, and come along side Him in the workings and desires of His heart.

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Power Outage, by Jim Betscher

September 7, 2009

It was Sunday.  I arrived at Casa Hogar Douglas, a children’s home we serve, around 9:30 AM to prepare for church. When I got there, I discovered that the home had been without electric for twenty-four hours. All of the food in their refrigerators was spoiled and because their water well works on an electric pump, they were also without water. We began to determine the exact cause of the problem. Soon, we discovered that the transformer was shorted out and would need to be repaired.

It was the third week of July and the temperature during that time of year is over 100 degrees every afternoon.  Since it was Sunday, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to do anything about the electric until Monday, at the earliest. So, we immediately began hauling drinking water from our property to the children’s home. We also brought the kids to the swimming pool on our property to cool down.  Afterwards, we had a cookout for them.

Getting ready to cool off in the pool

Getting ready to cool off in the pool

Pool party at Back2Back with the kids from Casa Hogar Douglas

Pool games

Alejandro loves playing in the baby pool

Alejandro loves playing in the baby pool

On Monday, we learned it would cost $3,000 to fix the transformer and it would be Tuesday before it would be ready. So we hauled more drinking water, fed them again and invited them to cool down in our pool once more.

It was a rough week. But that is why we are here. Without Back2Back’s help I’m not sure where the children’s home would get help in times like this. Those of you who support this ministry, make it possible for us to help the children’s homes when they have a crisis.  And for that we are extremely grateful. Events such as the power outage enable us to have a platform to share the Gospel. Today, the kids at Casa Hogar Douglas know that God loves them and will provide for their needs.

One of the dorms on the Casa Hogar Douglas property (Douglas Children's Home)

One of the dorms on the Casa Hogar Douglas property (Douglas Children's Home)

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.

A Change, by Caroline Burns

July 8, 2009

School is out for summer!  As summer vacation begins, some of the orphans we serve leave their children’s home to temporarily stay with any living relative who may be willing to take them in for a few weeks during the break.

I hardly know how to wrap my mind around this reality.  It’s difficult to understand how someone can provide food and shelter for them for several weeks but not all year.  Similarly, in the past few weeks we have learned that a few other children from various homes have been reunited with a parent (for what we have been told will be a permanent change).  Orphan children returning to their families for good is supposed to be my dream come true.  But if I’m honest, in my core, I’m not there yet emotionally or mentally.  I find myself doubting that these moms, many of whom are prostitutes, have turned their lives around and are now able to provide for their children.

But God spoke to me today and encouraged me through two women at Rio III, a squatter’s village that we serve.  Olga and her husband live near Manantial de Amor.  Olga’s vision is to be a light for God to the people of Rio III.  A strong supporter of Back2Back, she often partners with us through her church, as together we serve the community.  After a day of outreach, Olga stood up to thank the American team for serving and encouraging her in providing for the community.  Afterwards, two women from the neighborhood shared their testimonies with the group. They explained that they used to be hated in their community by everyone.  They had lived lives full of anger and bitterness. Often they would abandon their families for weeks at a time.  Their children would beg them to come home and only then would they briefly return before leaving again.

At first, they hated Olga’s church.  But that started to change when their children began attending the church and they saw God’s goodness manifest in their lives.  Eventually, they got involved with the church and Bible study Olga facilitates.  Since then, these two women have changed dramatically.  They are growing in the Lord, serving in the church, and striving to be loving mothers.

Two Women from Rio III share how God has transformed their lives

Two women from Rio III share how God has transformed their lives

I immediately realized that if God can change two of the most despised women in the community, He is more than able to radically transform the lives of the moms who have taken their children out of an orphanage and are trying to do what is right.

Absolutely nothing is impossible for God!  I want to invite you to pray with me for the children who will get to go home for a few weeks this summer and for those who might get to return home for good.  Would you join me in praying for their safety and that God would do a mighty work in their families?

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

Father’s Day with the Fatherless, by Matt Cooper

June 26, 2009

This past Sunday morning, I accompanied a visiting team from Cincinnati to Casa Hogar Douglas in the morning for church.  This is the seventh Father’s Day that I have lived here in Mexico, but for some reason it really began to dawn on me throughout the morning what a depressing day this must be for the children we serve.  How sad must it be to acknowledge a day separated out to celebrate fathers for a child who doesn’t live with their father, for a child who most likely can’t remember the last time they saw him, or for a child who quite possibly never had the chance to known him at all?

So we arrived at the Casa Hogar and I pointed the group in the direction of the chapel.  As I began walking up the hill towards the chapel I was almost holding my breath.  I could not help but wonder if Father’s Day would even be mentioned, if it would be the proverbial elephant in the room, or if we would just go about our business serving them as if it were any old day of the year?

We filled the seats in and around the children from Douglas and the worship leader began with his normal Sunday greetings.  Shortly after saying “Good morning” he popped the question that I had feared he might.  I literally felt myself hold my breath as he asked, “Who knows what today is?”  Of course they likely knew the answer to the question, but I couldn’t help but wonder what must be going through the minds of the seventy abandoned children that filled the chapel that morning.

Were they feeling sad?  Was some part of them angry? Did they feel like that got ripped off in the Dad Department?  How could they begin to wrap their minds around something that I as an adult barely understand myself?  What exactly is there to celebrate on Father’s Day when you don’t have a dad?

Then the unexpected happened as the worship leader instructed those seventy children to look around them, to locate a dad in the room, and to go and give them a big hug.  I couldn’t believe what I began to witness.  On tip toes and with wide eyes the children began to look around, and then they dispersed themselves throughout the crowd.  All of a sudden it wasn’t about them, or what they were missing out on so to speak, but it was about them wanting to bless someone else in the room.  And let me tell you – I was blessed that morning.  As more than half a dozen kids made their way to the corner where I was standing.  One by one they embraced me, and wished me a Happy Father’s Day – and the same thing was happening to other dads all across the congregation.

What an amazing Father’s Day it was.  I’m not sure why I should be surprised – it is just like God, really.  He used a room full of fatherless children to bless a handful of Fathers in a way that none of us will soon forget.

After the church service, we had a Father's Day cookout for the children.

After the church service, we had a Father's Day cookout for the children.

Two Boys at Casa Hogar Douglas

Two boys at Casa Hogar Douglas

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?

Church at Casa Hogar Douglas, by Mandy Lail

June 4, 2009

Recently, some Back2Back staff members organized Sunday morning church services at Casa Hogar Douglas (CHD), one of our children’s homes in the Monterrey, Mexico area.  God has blessed this new venture with an awesome worship leader; extremely talented, gifted with the children and such an obvious heart for the Lord.  The old chapel is pretty run down and through some generous supporters they have repaired the roof and modified the walls for better air flow.  It’s such a blessing to the CHD workers to have a place to worship where they feel comfortable and the kids too.

The greatest blessing for me is worshiping among the kids from CHD.  There is such power in the concert of voices, such power in the prayer and praises being offered by the B2B staff, the CHD staff, adults from the community and even the kids as well.  The Lord’s presence is obvious.  Every time I am there, each time we praise His Holy Name as we sing, I feel His pleasure so strong it feels as if we have supernaturally carried the children right to His throne room and laid them at His feet.  Now I’ve been to a lot of good churches, even worked at two great ones, but nothing has compared to worshiping among the least of these…

Thanks to Caroline Burns for capturing the service on video.  Click below to view:

Worshiping during a Sunday service at Casa Hogar Douglas