Posts Tagged ‘Claire Rogers’

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

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Celebrating Milestones, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

September 29, 2010

Saul, Marcos, and Omar on graduation day

Congratulations to our recent high school and college graduates! Through the Hope Education Program, Saul and Omar recently graduated from college, with Saul earning a law degree and Omar receiving a degree in Computer Systems.  Marcos, Katya and Perla graduated from high school.  Many of these students are the first in their family to attend and graduate from high school and college.

Last weekend, Back2Back staff cheered them on as they stood alongside their classmates to receive their diplomas.  We are so proud of their success and are eager to continue to support them as they pursue their career goals. Thank you for joining with us by investing in their future through the Hope Education Program!

Through the Hope Education Program, Back2Back offers students from Mexican 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, experiencing a healthy family life, perhaps for the very first time. Students are mentored, provided with an education, and encouraged to pursue their dreams so that they can become self-sustaining individuals who give back to their community. Only 4% of Mexicans complete college; those who do will become the leaders of tomorrow, forever shaping the direction of their country.

For more information on contributing to the Hope Program, please contact the Back2Back US office at 513-754-0300.

A Birthday Surprise, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

September 27, 2010

Last week, Oziel , a toddler at Douglas Children’s Home, turned four years old.  His sponsor family donated money to purchase him a birthday gift, through the Shelter Sponsorship Gift Catalog.  They specified that the money was to be used to buy him a gift of an action figure and toy car. Little did they know that just a few days prior, when asked what he wanted for his birthday, Oziel had told Back2Back staff members that he was hoping for a Hulk action figure.  Needless to say, when he received the exact gift he had been hoping for from his sponsors in Ohio, he was elated.

Oziel receives a birthday gift from his sponsor

Child sponsorship is helping children like Oziel in a multitude of ways. Prior to the launch of the Shelter Child Sponsorship Program (last June), many of the homes were underfunded, operating on a fraction of the needed operating budget.  Through this program, Back2Back has been able to come alongside the homes and help support them with resources to provide the children with a higher level of care.

For example, the children are now eating more nutritious and balanced meals with meat and produce (versus just rice and beans as was the norm before).  Thanks to sponsorship, Oziel and the twelve other children his age are now attending an excellent pre-school, whereas before they were attending a public pre-school with a ratio of one teacher per every three classes of children.  This would not have been possible without sponsorships. These are just a few of the practical ways in which sponsors help to improve the quality of care at the children’s homes.

Interested in sponsoring a child like Oziel? Contact Claire Rogers at the Back2Back US office at claire@ back2backministries.org.

Shelter Child Sponsorship Program Expands, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

May 4, 2010

Eternal Joy Children’s Home (EJH) near Hyderabad, India was founded in 2008 by a Christian couple whose vision was to care for physically and mentally challenged children living in poverty. The home that began with six children has since grown to provide for up to twenty-five children ranging in age from two to twelve years. Several of the children have special needs, including Down Syndrome, polio and birth defects. Eternal Joy Home provides a loving family environment for these children, many of whom would otherwise be outcasts in Indian society. Thanks to the care of the directors of the home and Back2Back staff, these disadvantaged children are able to receive an education and pursue their dreams, securing a brighter future for themselves.

Last month, we expanded the Back2Back Shelter Child Sponsorship Program by launching the program in India, in order to give the children at EJH an opportunity to receive the benefit of sponsorship.  Through the program, sponsors can make a lasting difference in the life of a child at Eternal Joy Home. By contributing toward the expense of providing nutrition, housing, clothing, health care and educational opportunities, as well as spiritual training and personal development, child sponsors are helping a child to receive the resources they need to thrive and grow. Similar to the sponsorship program in Mexico, families will have the opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with their child through update letters, prayers and even visits to their children’s home, should they choose to take part in a future Back2Back mission trip.

Aware of the success of the Shelter Program in Mexico, the Back2Back India Director was eager to launch the program in India.  She shares, “There are an estimated 35 million orphans in India.  The poverty is striking and the caste system puts these orphaned children at a severe disadvantage. We cannot care for all the needy children in India alone, but with your partnership, Back2Back can go deep with the children through the Shelter Child Sponsorship Program.  Sponsorship can make a tangible difference in the lives of the children at EJH, by providing care for today and hope for tomorrow.”

Annual Strategic Planning Retreat, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

October 19, 2009

Recently, the US and Mexico staff gathered at our Mexico campus in Monterrey for our annual strategic planning retreat.  During the daytime sessions, we brainstormed how we might continue to grow and improve as an organization, while staying true to our mission to provide “care for today, hope for tomorrow” to orphans.  We also visited all our ministry sites, both children’s homes and communities such as the Rios and Cadereyta, and participated in team-building activities.

One evening, we attended a chapel service at one of the children’s homes we partner with, Casa Hogar Douglas.  Some of the girls from the children’s home performed a dance to “Lord I Lift Your Name on High.”  It was captured using the video feature on a camera that someone had on hand.  Check it out, along with some photos from the week, below.

Briefing before team building activities

Briefing before team building activities

Team building activity

Team building activity

The staff split into small groups for a series of team-building activities

The staff split into small groups for a series of team-building activities

Brian Bertke at Rio I

Brian Bertke at Rio I

Kristine Hall before a church service at Rio III

Kristine Hall with children from Rio III

Shooting video at Imperio de Amor

Shooting video at Imperio de Amor

A few staff members during a dinner out at El Pollo Loco

A few staff members during a dinner out at El Pollo Loco

Chris Ramos, spending time with the children at Del Norte Children's Home

Chris Ramos, spending time with the children at Del Norte Children's Home

Shooting video footage of Angel, one of our ministry partners at Cadereyta

Shooting video footage of Angel, one of our ministry partners at Cadereyta

A few members of the US staff at Cadereyta, one of the local communities where Back2Back serves

A few members of the US staff at Cadereyta, one of the communities that Back2Back serves

Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico staff, with Meme, a local ministry partner

Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico staff, with Meme, a local ministry partner

Back2Back US Staff

A few Back2Back staff members before heading back to Cincinnati

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving, by Claire Rogers

September 9, 2009

When Wendy Kuremsky’s  thirteen-year old daughter, Caroline, decided to participate on a Back2Back mission trip with her school, Wendy had no idea just how much that one-week in Mexico would change her daughter.

Wendy remembers the day she picked up Caroline from the airport.  “When she landed in Dayton, OH, after the trip, we got in the car and before I even had my keys out, she had the light on and was showing me the things she did on her digital camera screen and telling me about the kids.  It clearly had an impact on her,” she recalls.  “About a week later she was in another’s mom’s car on the way to dance lessons.  The mom called me afterward and told me how Caroline was so articulate about the trip and that it was obvious she had changed.”

Caroline serving in Mexico on a Back2Back Ministries mission trip

Caroline serving in Mexico on a Back2Back Ministries mission trip

Caroline had been touched by the suffering and poverty she had witnessed.  She felt compelled to do something practical to help the orphans that she had met at the children’s homes where Back2Back serves.  As her birthday approached, Caroline began planning a big party, as she had every year before.  But this time, her celebration would be different.  Instead of accepting traditional birthday presents, Caroline made a special request to attendees, asking that they bring an item to be donated to the children’s homes in Mexico.  On the invitations, she suggested a few specific items that were most needed in the orphanages:  socks, shoes, flip flops, and blankets.

The Kuremsky’s were amazed by the response.  Almost everyone who was invited to the party attended.

“It was literally overwhelming how everyone responded,” Wendy says. “We purposely set up a long table right near the entrance to our yard and put some buckets on it.  When people brought their donations, we’d sort them into the buckets.  It was so exciting to see what families had chosen. In no time at all, the buckets were overflowing.  Another little table was added and we started putting stuff on the ground under the table.  It was very fun the next day for Caroline to look through and see all the things she knew the kids could use.”

Wendy ‘s heart was touched by Caroline’s zeal.  It was inspiring for her to see her daughter’s deep compassion for the children she had met and her determination to do something to make a difference, even after the trip was over.  “God can indeed teach valuable lessons to us through our children,” she says.

Caroline’s older brother, Tanner, has also served on a Back2Back Mexico mission trip.  Impacted by the experiences of Caroline and Tanner, Wendy and her husband, Michael, decided to take a family trip to Mexico to serve at the children’s homes together.  This November, they are joining several other families, for Back2Back’s annual Thanksgiving week mission trip.  They will be taking several extra suitcases, stuffed with socks, shoes and blankets, all of which were donated at Caroline’s birthday party.  While there, they will deliver the items to the local orphanages.

The Kuremskys think that serving children in need is the perfect way to spend Thanksgiving together as a family.  When asked what prompted them to forgo a traditional Thanksgiving celebration, Michael responded, “There is no better way to express our gratitude for how we’ve been blessed as a family than to serve people who haven’t been as blessed as us.”

Interested in participating in the Back2Back Thanksgiving mission trip, Nov 25-29?  There are still a few remaining spots open for families or individuals.  If you would like to join the Kuremskys in Monterrey, Mexico this Thanksgiving, please email the trip leader, Brian Bertke, at brian@back2backministries.org

Crazy Love, by Claire Rogers

July 15, 2009

This summer the Back2Back staff is reading Crazy Love, by Francis Chan.  Chan urges readers to resist the temptation to be satisfied with the status quo and instead respond to God’s invitation into a passionate love relationship.  He challenges readers with a call to forsake complacency and apathy and follow God wholeheartedly.

Crazy Love

Here is an excerpt from Chan’s book that I found to be particularly impactful (pages 93-94):

“As Tim Zizziar said, “Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”  . . . God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward.  He measures our lives by how we love.  In our culture, even if a pastor doesn’t actually love people, he can still be considered successful as long as he is a gifted speaker, makes his congregation laugh, or prays for “all those poor, suffering people in the world” on Sunday.

But Paul writes that even if “I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2-3 ESV).  Wow.  Those are strong and unmistakable words.  According to God, we are here to love.  Not much else really matters.

So God assesses our lives based on how we love. But the word love is so overused and worn out.  What does God mean by love?  He tells us,

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends . . . faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

–   1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 ESV

But even those words have grown tired and overly familiar, haven’t they?  I was challenged to do a little exercise with these verses, one that was profoundly convicting.  Take the phrase Love is patient and substitute your name for the word love.  (For me, “Francis is patient . . . “) Do it for every phrase in the passage.  By the end, don’t you feel like a liar?  If I am meant to represent what love is, then I often fail to love people well.

Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side.  It is not a label we can display when it is useful.  It must be central to everything we do and are.”

As a staff, that is our challenge as we provide care to orphans.  Our call is to not just offer clothing and shelter to children in need.  Our mission is to meet the needs of the orphan, both spiritual and material, out of the overflow of Christ’s love in our hearts.  Love must be our motivation and at the core of everything we do.

God calls us to wholehearted faith characterized by love.  That is the mark of the Christian faith and our prayer and hope is that it permeates through every fiber of our ministry.  Our organization is rooted in Christ’s mandate to love sacrificially.  In 1 John 3:16-20, we see God’s compassion for the poor through the example of Christ’s love manifesting itself through His willingness to surrender everything, even his very life.

Crazy Love has encouraged us as a ministry, but it has also prompted me to examine my own heart for any areas of my life where I have become complacent.  Chan’s exercise was especially powerful. As I replaced the word love with my name, I was convicted of ways in which I haven’t allowed Christ’s generous love to reveal itself through my actions, often because of fear or complacency.  His kindness and merciful love should compel me to pursue a deeper relationship with Him and likewise love those around me radically, laying at His feet anything that is hindering me.

What attitudes or areas of your life might God be asking you to surrender to Him so that you might love more radically?  What is holding you back?