Posts Tagged ‘God’

Children of God, by Theresa Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

February 3, 2012

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The other day one of my students, Jeremiah, asked if I would give him a red pen. I knew he needed it for school, so I gave him one of the many pens that have been donated to the Education Center. He smiled really big and said, “Auntie, thank you!! You always give me the things that I ask for”. I don’t really know what I asked this, but immediately I asked him, “Why do you think I give you those things?”. Without flinching he answered, “Because you are my Auntie.”

His response got me thinking. He claimed his relationship to me to be the reason why I give him things. I started to think about how much more a father desires to provide for his children and give them good things when they ask. A father longs to provide for the needs of his children. If we believe in God and have proclaimed him to be Lord of our lives, we are His sons (and daughters). Romans 8:15 says, “But you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.””

I just finished reading a book called, “The Birthright” by John Sheasby. The book discusses the concept of being a child of God and what that allows us access to in Him. In the book, John Sheasby discusses the story of the prodigal son, but talks about it from the viewpoint of the older brother. He quotes Luke 15:29, which says, “But he answered his father, “All these years I’ve worked like a slave for you. I’ve never disobeyed one of your commands. Yet, you’ve never given me so much as a little goat for a celebration with my friends.”” The author goes on to explain how sad it is that the older son never knew the power of what he had access to through his father. All he had to do over all the years was ask his father- and whatever he wanted would have been his. He had total access to his father’s riches, but never thought to ask for it- he just did his work and went on with this daily life.

Think about this for a second- we are children of God. We have access to everything that is His. All that we have to do is ask. Just as I gave Jeremiah a red pen because I am his Auntie, God wants to give us good things because we are His children. My point in all of this is that I desire for us as Christians to see the power that we have as children of God. We have total access God’s abundance. He desires to provide for us because we are His children. The best part of all of this is that He knows what we need. It is a good thing that I do not have to figure out what I need and don’t need because I don’t know the whole picture – but God does and He gives what He knows that we need. Praise the Lord for our closeness in relationship with Him!

Back2Back Nigeria provides academic assistance and tutoring to children in the Kisayhip Village outside Jos. Last fall, we opened our doors to the Oasis Education Center to expand educational opportunities for the local orphans and impoverished children.  By improving education and providing sponsorship, the children of Jos will have a brighter future.

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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.

His Unflagging Love, by Ally Horine, Back2Back Mexico Trip Participant from Northstar Vineyard Youth Group

June 21, 2010

Playing with a new friend

Our trip started out with the group arriving on campus to discover that Back2Back was bussing kids from the children’s home, Imperio de Amor, to their campus so that we could have a pool party and cookout with them. We were all tired from traveling, but excited to play with the children. We played with the girls then the boys got in the pool. Instantly, I bonded with a boy named Alejandro. We played and spent time together until it was time for them to leave. I was sad to see them go, but excited to know that we would be seeing them again soon.

On the last day, we took the same kids on a field trip to ride bikes. When they arrived at the park, they all chose “Americanos” to partner with for the bike-ride. Instantly, Alejandro chose me. We didn’t get the bikes until about an hour after we got to the park, so until then we played together. From running around, to throwing water on each other, we had a blast. At one point, this little trolley bus came around to give tours of the park. Alejandro saw the trolley and instantly ran ahead to catch it and grab a seat. I jogged behind him, due to the selfishness in me that would not run in the heat.

I was one of the last to get on the bus, but when I got on I looked around and spotted Alejandro with his hand on the seat next to him, saving it for me. At that moment, I knew why I was in Mexico. Not to do service projects, not to bond with my youth group, but to be a friend to Alejandro. God sent me all the way from Cincinnati, Ohio to Monterrey, Mexico just to spend time with this boy and be his friend. He loves the orphan child. His unflagging love continues to amaze me every minute I spend with Him. Experiencing and sharing His love was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

After our bike ride, our group stopped for a photo with the kids we'd paired with. I'm the second person in from the left, posing with Alejandro.

We Want Him, by Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

June 1, 2010

“No! You can’t take him. WE WANT HIM,” were the words that came from the back of the bus.

Three of the guys from the short-term mission group that we had taken to the Rio, had their arms around him and weren’t letting him go. Antonio, one of our Back2Back staff guys, had jumped on our bus to see if Oscar, one of the students in our Hope Education Program, had wanted to ride with him in another vehicle. The guys in the group were not letting him go. They wanted him and it was more than obvious. The smile on Oscar’s face told it all.

This is what our ministry is all about- advocating for these kids and teens in Monterrey, Mexico; in Jos, Nigeria; and in Hyderbad, India. We as a staff feel called to give these kids and teens the message that we want them, Jesus wants them. When groups, supporters and advocates join us in saying WE WANT YOU, its God’s way of screaming their value from the mountaintops! I hear the echos of Isaiah 41 :9-10 “I took you from the ends of the earth from its farthest corners I called you, I said, ‘You are my servant’ I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you;do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Have you heard God saying this to you? He is yelling, ” I want you.” ” I have chosen you and have not rejected you.” Sometimes in life it doesn’t seem this way. Its difficult to understand why things happen to us. But we need to know that like those three guys, God embraces us and says ” I want you and will not let you go.” Have you heard Him?

Seventh Grade Girls to the Rescue, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

May 7, 2010

I have been praying to the Lord as to how ministry will be accomplished this summer since Back2Back made the decision to postpone summer internships/short-term groups.  How will His promises be fulfilled without the hands and feet of His body?  How will we as Back2Back Nigeria staff be able to meet all the needs of the Fatherless around us?  Well, I want you to meet the seventh grade girls discipleship group at Hillcrest school.  There are about fourteen of them who have chosen to use their Tuesday afternoons to help us care for the orphans that Back2Back Nigeria serves!

They are full of spunk, energy, excitement and desire!  Their leader is a good friend of mine and she asked if she could take her bible study to Our Ladies of Apostles (OLA) orphanage one Tuesday afternoon.  She went on to further explain that she was having some trouble with them: they were bickering between themselves and not interested in things of God.  If there is one thing I have learned being on the mission field is that the moment you take your eyes off of yourselves and pour out, your own vision starts to become a bit more focused and that is when God starts to take over.  Which is of course the answer to my own questions above.

By the end of the day, the children were loved on, protected, held up and played with, and there seemed to be a spirit of hope that filled the room.  A hope for these orphans as each and every one of them, no matter how challenging they might have been physically or emotionally were picked up and loved on.  A hope also for these seventh grade girls who were laughing, finding refuge in each other and asking when they could come again.  And there was a hope in my own heart as well as I realized that God in His providence is answering my prayer by bringing an unlikely group of girls here to serve and that He will fulfill His promises in His own way. I need not fix my eyes on me, but I need to fix my eyes on Him, the author and perfecter of my faith who just wants me to see Him at work.  I guess it is what I said about the seventh grade girls, the moment I stop taking my eyes off of myself and pour out is the moment God starts to take over and work out my vision.

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

A Grand Story, by Jessica Biondo, Back2Back Mexico Staff

February 25, 2010

“We may never leave our native land or travel by air or sea; but, if we love and serve God, our lives will be a great adventure. He’ll never take you anywhere He has not already prepared for your arrival. Keep trusting Him.”
~Beth Moore

One of my favorite things about God is that He sees the big picture and he cares about every little detail that he sees. Even before my arrival in Mexico he was preparing me and leading me down this path. When I think back on each detail that fit together to allow me to come, I am astounded by how brilliant God is! And I am eternally grateful that he continues to work on the big picture, even when I get too caught up in the troubles of one day. It inspires me to know that even as I write this, God is at work in the hearts and lives of people all over the world and leading us to the work that he has prepared in advance for us to do!

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Have you ever really thought about everything that goes into “preparing” for your arrival at a certain task that God has lead you to? I am so excited to get to Heaven one day and hear all about the countless times that God prepared the way for me or made details fall into place in my life so that I can be where I am today and wherever I will be next!

God is in control, he sees the big picture and I don’t have to worry about the future because he has it covered! Praise the Lord for caring so much about our stories! Life is such a wonderful adventure and such a grand story. It is freeing to know that my life is not about me. That we are all living in a story that is so much bigger than we are.

It is the story that began in the Garden of Eden,
the story of Eve eating the fruit,
the story of Abraham,
the story of Isaac,
the story of Jacob,
the stories of Joseph and the birth of the Nation of Israel,
the story of Jesus Christ,
the story of the First Church.
It is your story,
it is my story.
It is all the stories that are yet to be lived.
It is not a story about great men or women, but about the constant faithfulness, goodness and provision of our Heavenly Father!

How blessed we are to be a part of the story! And that God cares enough about our roles that he prepares them in advance!

Spiritual Sons, by Matt Cooper, Back2Back Mexico Staff

February 23, 2010

One day in late September we were sitting in church listening to our pastor give his sermon, when out of nowhere he stopped, turned toward me and said, “Matt, God is going to give you Spiritual Sons.”

Of course I somewhat in shock that he was taking the time to share this word from the Lord with me right in the middle of his sermon, but I nodded in agreement, and then he just turned and went on with his sermon.

I found myself in wonder at a man that has the ability to listen to God so intently that during his sermon he could actually discern a word of encouragement (or prophecy) for me, stop and take the time to share it with me, and then go on with his sermon without skipping a beat. I loved it. I loved that my pastor could be so in tune to God’s voice, and I loved the promise that God had for me in the message he delivered to me through the pastor. From that day forward I began to think on those words, and imagine what exactly it might look like when they would come to pass.

Later in the fall, a handful of the boys that live with my wife and I made decisions for Christ from a church drama, and during an altar call at church.  So of course I began to think that that was the fulfillment of the pastor’s words. I just assumed, because in my simple mind I couldn’t imagine what else it could be.  Little did I know that there was more, and that in a sense it had more to do with me than it did with our boys.

In November, a sister church of our church was holding a youth retreat about three hours outside of Monterrey in a tiny little town called La Chona. The youth pastor from our church was invited to lead worship for the weekend, and he had invited me to sing with the worship band. At first I saw the invitation to sing in the worship band as being way outside of my bull’s eye of responsibilities. However, then it occurred to me that perhaps I could make it work if I took my boys along with me!  So I made the decision that we would go together as a house. Although in the end only four of the eight ended up being able to go, it later was clear to me that they were exactly the four that God wanted to be there.

For me, the weekend was three unforgettable days of meeting with God, being renewed in my spirit, challenged by the Lord, and used for his glory as we ministered through music and prayer. Early on in the weekend I began to feel that the Lord wanted me to “let go” in the way I worshiped Him.  I knew that I sometimes held back, too concerned for what others thought of me.  I felt personally challenged to begin to worship the Lord as King David did, as if I was all alone and to no longer worry about what others thought about me.  I realized that at times I was particularly worried what my teenage boys might think of me. Then God began to bring something to mind. When we raise our children from a young age they watch us, and model us, and learn what is normal and acceptable by our example. Then God began to impress upon me that it was exactly the same with my “big boys” and my example to them in how I pursue God and how I worship him. And so, I took the step of faith with God, and decided to “let go”. I decided that if while in the presence of the Lord I felt led to raise my hands, or sing a new song, or jump, or dance, or whatever. . . that I would not worry about what others were thinking, and I would not hold back. In the end I realized that whatever I do in the Lord’s presence is ALL for Him anyway!

As I began to let go, and worship as the Holy Spirit led, something amazing happened. First of all, I found a brand new level of freedom in my worship of God; and second, my boys, in following my lead, began to worship the Lord freely as well. In that exact moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks…the Lord had given me “Spiritual Sons”! I took great joy in sharing with them that although I do not have the honor of being their earthly father, that I feel all of the pride of a dad in seeing my “sons” seek the Lord with all of the heart, soul, and strength!

Embracing Marcos, one of the teens that lives in our home through Back2Back's Hope Education Program

It Can Be Bitter Cold in God’s Shelter, by Greg Huffer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 13, 2010

I just posted on my Facebook page (yeah, I do FB!) that it is “cold- not so much outside as inside.”  I just returned from visiting family and friends in Cincinnati where the temperature was in the teens with wind chills at who knows what, but at least in Cincinnati there was good heat inside.  A few minutes by the fireplace with a warm blanket wrapped around my legs and I was snug as a bug in a rug!  Not so here.  We have cinder block buildings and space heaters here and there.  And for someone like me, who always argues with his wife about wanting things cooler inside, I am always a bit surprised that it gets too cold inside our home even for me.

In seasons like this, my thoughts more often than not are about the people in Meme’s Rio or in the Cadereyta (two of the impoverished shanytowns that Back2Back works with).  My mind drifts to the 70% of the population of Mexico that live in poverty.  It considers that the majority of the world lives more like someone at Cadereyta than say someone living in the suburbs of Chicago or Cincinnati (where I grew up).   What do they do on nights like tonight when the temperature is supposed to get down around freezing?  How many blankets can they throw on to keep themselves warm throughout the night?  Do they ever feel snug as a bug in a rug?  Somehow, I doubt it.

The past two winters, I’ve been able to work at Cadereyta with a group of men from Columbus.  Each time we’ve gone, not only has it been cold but it has also been rainy, leaving the dirt roads nothing more than a sloppy mess.  Several times, just walking through the six-inch deep slop, my shoe has almost been pulled from my feet.  As we get on the bus and head to the Back2Back campus and relative warmth, the hour-long bus ride home is often more quiet as we think of the people I am leaving behind in the elements: the little kid with a runny nose and hacking cough or the grandmother who is nothing but skin and bones.  How will they fare over the night as the temperature drops even more?

I think in America we tend to think that because we have warm homes and comfy beds that we are experiencing the shelter of God.  So, if that is true, then what does that say about the people at Meme’s Rio?  Do they experience the shelter of God any less because they have a tin roof over their heads?  Or let’s turn it around.  If the person at Meme’s Rio that is fortunate enough to have a space heater (that runs off pirated electricity) is experiencing God’s shelter, does that mean that we experience it more because we have a thermostat we can set to a comfortable temperature?

I am coming to believe more and more that God’s shelter has little or nothing at all to do with this kind of thing.  I’m not so sure He cares how comfortable I am – He just promises to give me comfort through the Comforter.  I don’t think that God is pulling for me to have lots of money, but He is desperate that I would be rich in faith.

God does bless people materially.  We see that in the Scriptures, but not as much as some people may think or want.  What we see more is the promise that we will struggle and have trouble in this world.  God’s shelter comes to us regardless of where we live, or how we live (economically, comfortably, etc).  God’s shelter is ours because we believe in Him and follow Him and trust HIM- not what He may have given us.

Are we prepared to accept that God’s shelter may not keep us warm?  It may not help me purchase those extra Christmas presents for the kiddos.  It doesn’t mean that I can finally sell that heap of metal I’ve been driving and nursing along for three years and get a new car like the guy across the street.

But it does mean that as I stand on the side of the road because that bucket of bolts has finally died, I have the assurance of knowing that Someone is standing next to me.  It does mean that there may be fewer presents under the tree, but a deeper understanding of Christmas than ever before.  It does mean that there is peace in my heart as my bones shiver when the sun goes down, because the truth of the matter is that sometimes, it can be bitter cold in God’s Shelter.

All in All, by Jessica Biondo, Back2Back Mexico Staff

December 18, 2009

Days like today, when I have had a lot of time for reflection, I feel a pull in my spirit to do more. The need is so great and there are so many kids out there that need to be loved- showered with the love of their Heavenly Father! While I feel confident that I am where the Lord wants me to be right now, I also believe that he is using this time in mighty ways to prepare my heart for what is yet to come.

I sit here in the glow of my Christmas tree and sip a glass of punche (a delightfully warm and delicious Mexican holiday drink) and I am struck by how gentle God is with me! He knows my struggle of a love for creature comforts and he is ever so gently pruning me of the selfish desires of my heart. Even as I sit here in a time of prayer, I am being changed. Strengthened.  Prepared. The things of this world are losing their shine and my heart feels like it could burst with joy as my vision becomes free of worldly distractions. As much as I love the soft flicker of a candle and my cozy down comforter and my colorful mixing bowls, I am no longer afraid to live without these kinds of things.

How kind God is to give me this time to learn these lessons before I am living in a situation where creature comforts are not even an option. How kind God is to draw me to him and show me that without the things of this world I still have strength, courage, hope, joy and peace. But that without Him I would have nothing, I would be nothing. Without the things of this world I am still the woman that I was created to be, I still have a purpose, a passion and a calling. Without God I would have nothing. No passion. No purpose greater than myself. No joy. No hope. Praise God for teaching me this! This is one of those lessons that my mind has always known, but my heart has finally understood the depth of meaning behind these words. The song “All in All” has come to my mind…

You were my strength when I was weak

You are the treasure that I seek

You are my all in all

When I am down you pick me up

When I am dry you fill my cup

You are my all in all

Seeking you as a precious jewel

Lord to give up I’d be a fool

You are my ALL IN ALL

I have sung those words hundreds of times and yet today I am struck anew by the meaning of them. These words define me because God defines me. People and things will come and go in my life but that will never chance who God is and who I am in Him!

I came here to try and change the world one orphan at a time and I am the one who is being changed.  Praise the Lord!

With a few of the children we serve in the Rio community

Selene, Karely, and Shirley’s Quincenera, by Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico

December 14, 2009

As the three girls celebrating their quinceneras walked into the room, the words of Connie (a director at their children’s home, Manatial de Amor) rang in my ears.

“These three girls have been with us for a long time.  They grew up in this children’s home.  As I was praying today God reminded me that we all are daughter’s of the KING.  He wants us to know that.  In a very special way, God is showing that to these three girls tonight,” Cony shared.

Cony’s words are true for all of us.  And in a very tangible way God was showing these girls what they mean to Him.  This December we had another opportunity to provide a quincenera for three girls Back2Back serves at a local children’s home, girls who don’t have families to make this special event happen.

Shirley, Karely and Selene all have little to no family involvement.  Usually, we (Back2Back) are able to provide a dress, a few humble gifts, a few flowers and a meal for their children’s home and any family that can attend.  But, with the help of a group of women that came to serve with Back2Back, we provided a nice meal, cake and symbolic presents that are traditional for this special birthday signifying the maturing of a girl in Mexican culture.

Thanks to the women’s group, the quincenera was held in a warm reception room.  They all wore the gown of their dreams.  The girls received free hair styling and makeup by a relative of a Back2Back staff member and donations from folks through a Facebook and email petition allowed the girls to receive royal treatment.

Selene, Karely, and Shirley

Thursday night was in the low 50’s/high 40’s and rainy.   So, the room inside a Mexican buffet restaurant was a huge blessing.  Edgar, another Manatial de Amor director, gave the message and the woman’s group that was serving with us that week shared in the ceremony giving the symbolic gifts a girl receives (like a watch, bible, ring and pillow).  Dancing and dinner followed the ceremony to round out a perfect evening.

Edgar sharing a message during the quincenera

Edgar sharing a message during the quincenera

On behalf of these girls and the Back2Back staff, thank you to all those who gave to give them the night of their lives.

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

Celebrating Thanksgiving at Rio I, by Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico staff

November 30, 2009

To me, Thanksgiving is about being with family and giving thanks. I was unable to be with family from the States and even my own family here in Monterrey because I was scheduled to work. In a way I was able to be with “family” as the people of the Rio (a squatter’s village that I serve with Back2Back) have become my second family.

Hope Maglich, another Back2Back staff member, had a great idea to celebrate our Thanksgiving with them by sharing a meal and doing an activity to reflect on the meaning of the day.

Sharing a meal from Pollo Loco with a few families at the Rio

I tried with my Spanish to explain about the first Thanksgiving and that in addition to joining together for a meal, the pilgrims and Native Americans also took time out to give thanks for all that God had given them.  Hope then asked everyone to participate in a Thanksgiving tree activity. Everyone was asked to take a leaf and write what they were thankful for.  I’d love to share a few with you.  One said, “I give you thanks for creating me.”

Another one read, “I give thanks to God for this life.”

As each leaf went on the tree, Meme, a local who partners with us in serving at the Rio, read them off.  With each leaf, I was reminded how big God is and how much He cares for us. Lord, I thank you for my family, the food you give us each day, for the sunsets and all the beauty in your creation. I think I need to make a Thanksgiving tree every day.

Meme and Hope leading the Thanksgiving activity

Christopher’s Shoes, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

November 13, 2009

The sound of many little hands applauding echoed throughout the bus. The bus driver turned around in surprise. I too was taken back. The smiling faces kept grinning, the hands kept giving praise. Mama Connie, one of the caretakers at Casa Hogar Villa de Juarez, nodded her head saying, “Thank you God!”

The twenty children from the children’s home knew why they were giving thanks… Christopher especially was thankful that day… God had heard his specific prayer and sitting on the bus that day were a pair of brand new shoes just for him.

A church group from Cincinnati came to Monterrey with money specifically set-aside to buy new shoes for the children at Casa Hogar Villa de Juarez (VDJ), a children’s home that Back2Back serves. We loaded up twenty kids on a bus and headed to Wal-Mart. Each child was allowed to pick out a pair of gym shoes. We were pinching toes to make sure there was room to grow, searching for Barbie and Spiderman designs, helping the teen girls find something fashionable.  Finally, we all loaded on the bus with shopping bags full of shoe boxes.

Back on the bus, Christopher tapped Mama Connie, a VDJ caretaker, on the shoulder. “Look!” he said, pointing to his feet. The entire sole was falling off of his old shoe! Mama Connie looked Christopher in the face and said, “God has answered your prayers Christopher.”

She turned to me and explained that Christopher had been asking God for new shoes and that Jesus had heard that prayer and provided for him. Mama Connie stood up and told the rest of the children on the bus that God had met them and answered their prayers that day through these people who had heard God and come to take them shoe shopping. The kids smiled. Mama Connie asked the kids to applaud the Lord and thank Him for answering their prayers and providing for their needs. The bus echoed with the sound of grateful hearts that day, not just for the new shoes, but for the physical reminder that God cares for His children.

Christopher's Shoes

Christopher on the bus, holding his old shoes

Mercy Living, by Antonio Garcia, Back2Back Mexico House Parent

October 5, 2009

Through the role of my wife and I as house parents to teens in Back2Back’s Hope Program, God is teaching us to see through His eyes and to understand how to accept those who are unacceptable to society. He is teaching us that his mercy and love is able to transform.

We have experienced God’s mercy in our lives when we receive God’s forgiveness when we do not deserve it. What he has given us is a desire to work with eight young girls who live in the Esther House. We have to be tolerant, firm, patient and extend mercy. We are enjoying God’s work and that he has given us the opportunity through the Back2Back Hope Program to be instruments for the process of sanctification in the girls’ lives. We are understanding that in some areas we are not going to achieve fruit immediately.

The girls leave with the concept that a life full of values is important. We have the mission to achieve in each girl the values of mercy that God has had for them.

Some of the Hope Program girls that live in the Esther House

Six of the eight Hope Program girls that live in the Esther House

2009 Hope Program students, including the girls that live in the Garcia's home through the program

2009 Hope Program students, including the girls that live in the Garcia's home through the program

Border Issues, by Kathy Couch

September 16, 2009

Living in a foreign country can have its drawbacks.  Especially one – the difficulty of crossing the border!  This experience is enough to make a grown man beg…. for papers… for entry…. for mercy.  Because, at that moment, the border immigration officers have ALL the power.  It seems there are rules, but no one really knows the rules.  This just makes it more fun.  My last experience with the border was fairly painless.  I thank the Lord for that.  But, it did make me think about border issues in my life.

After being in the states awhile and gazing into the television for way too many hours (because it “talked to me” in English), I thought of the border issues of my mind.  What am I allowing in without a fight?  What are my rules?  What do I give limited access too so that I can keep the pure mind that God called me to maintain?

It also reminded me of border issues in my mind.  If I am trying to die to myself daily, then I can’t be having conversations in my mind about my rights.  Rights to my own time, space, or wants.  I need to look outward instead of inward.  When people need my time or attention, my first thought should not be ‘me’!  It kind of spoiled me going home and having everyone think I was so great.  It filtered in through my brain and made me think I truly was something and some how deserved certain things.  So, there is another border issue.  To die or not to die.  To have the courage to die to myself, I have to stay plugged into the Word.  So that in dying to self, I am living in my spirit with Christ.

So with all the frustration of the border, I do have to thank them for making me think about the borders in my life.  I want to maintain the borders that keep me different from the world so that I can live my life as a witness to Jesus.  I had an interesting conversation with one of my boys who lives in our home through the Hope Program.  He shared with me that he thinks his teacher is a Christian.  His only proof is the man’s attitudes and actions.  What a testimony for an eighteen-year-old kid to notice there is a difference in your life! I want people to see that difference in me.  I want to talk about Jesus, but I also want to walk in a way that people see the difference and wonder why it is there!

Pleading for Prayer, by Cathy Huffer

September 14, 2009

Meet baby Melissa.

Baby Melissa

She is two months old and yet her due date has not yet passed.  She was born prematurely at six months.  Janet, her mom, was experiencing a normal pregnancy until at a routine doctor’s visit she learned she was losing fluid.  The doctor advised her to admit herself into the hospital so they could monitor her.  She chose to stay home because of the cost.  Four days later, Janet woke up with blood on her sheets and a puddle on the floor.  Scared and worried, she and her mom went to the emergency room.  She was taken away to a room and her mom was told to wait.  After nearly three hours, the hospital staff returned with a bag of Janet’s clothes and told her mother to speak to someone about how they were to pay for Janet’s hospital stay.

That morning word got out and Meme, a Back2Back partner, came to me and asked if I wanted to go with her to the hospital to visit Janet and pray for her.  When we arrived, she had been waiting three and a half hours with still no word.  Soon after we arrived, they called Janet’s mom inside a tiny office.  It was apparent that the news wasn’t good, as she began to cry.  They had told her that Janet had given birth to a baby girl who couldn’t breathe on her own and she should prepare for the worst.  Then she was escorted out to wait for futher news.

When Meme and I surrounded her, she told us the news about baby Melissa.  We hugged and cried.

Then Meme turned to me and said, “Cathy would you lead us in prayer?”

In that little hallway, we huddled together and prayed for the health of the baby, for the strength of her lungs, for Janet and her mom and other family.  We prayed for who knows how long.  When we finished we convinced Janet’s mom that she had to eat something.  We stayed with her part of the afternoon before finally returning home.  Later when her mom got to see Janet, they shared experiences.

Janet recalled her initial reaction to the news. “When they told me about my baby, I thought God please let Meme and Cathy be praying for my little girl.”

What Janet didn’t know then was that at the exact same time that she was pleading to God for us to pray, we were gathered in the hallway of the hospital interceding on behalf of her little girl.  When I visited Janet later she shared this with me and I was able to tell her how she can have a personal relationship with God.  She too can have a direct line to the Almighty Physician.  She was intrigued and I prayerfully anticipate more conversations about what Jesus offers us all.  It is obvious to me that God is using this little girl already and I’m convinced that He has great things in store for her life.  Would you continue to pray for Melissa’s health?  The doctor’s gave Janet oxygen for Melissa however she has yet to need it, praise God.  Also pray for the faith of Janet and the rest of her family.

Janet with baby Melissa

Janet with baby Melissa

Marathon, by Mandy Lail

September 4, 2009

This summer, I was often asked by mission trip guests, “What does a typical day look like in a Teen Home of the Hope Program?”

Wow, the best answer is actually…  “There is no typical day – each one is a new adventure!” As you can imagine, it’s semi-controlled chaos in a teen home on our Back2Back Mexico campus.  Days are full with households ranging in size from seven to sixteen! There are endless responsibilities and conversations for managing meals, chores, curfews, school enrollment, studying for exams, school supplies, friends, jobs and everything else that comes with raising teens (and staff kiddos, as well).

Cooking dinner with the boys

Cooking dinner with the boys

As a Teen Home parent, I often feel winded, like I just finished a sprint, but in reality it’s more of a marathon.  Many days will not hold a visible pivotal ministry moment.  Many days feel more like a chaotic dash of the never ending “stuff” to be done. But the precious reality of this ministry is the invested time – living life together.  Because we are here day in and day out, because we can be found in the kitchen or upstairs at all hours, because we sit and eat with them, because we are here…over time many of these students will allow us entrance into their tangle.

The lives of our teens are a tangle of old wounds, dysfunctional family connections, hopes and dreams for the future, and worries about the present.  It’s a mighty tangle.  But the beauty is that when we choose to entangle ourselves into their daily tangle, many begin to allow us more and more entrance into their lives.  And then, in those unplanned and unpredictable moments of living life together, God just might allow us to speak His truth to them and they just might listen.

This summer felt like a daily sprint with our summer schedule of visiting short-term mission groups and end-of-the-year activity at school for our boys.  I ended each day exhausted and often overwhelmed.  But now that it has passed, God has graciously reminded me that He was at work the whole time.  In the midst of that constant dash, I shared the gospel with Pablo late one night.  I spoke truth to Marcos about who he is and what God wants for him, after an issue at school.  I had a difficult but necessary conversation with Mario about his behavior and choices in life. I had multiple conversations with Homero about his decisions and who God has made him to be.  And I was able to answer Gabriel that yes, indeed, I would love to be the mother he never had.

None of these were planned moments. They happened in the car, at the kitchen table, and sitting at the lake, all because we have chosen to entangle ourselves in their tangles.  Up close, it feels like a sprint.  It’s tiring; it’s intense; and sometimes, even maddening.  But when we can step back and look at it like a marathon, it’s nothing short of miraculous.

Meeting the Parents, by Kelly Velasco

August 28, 2009

Our foster daughters through the Hope Program were not allowed to date during their first year living in our house. Of course, they all quickly agreed to this rule back in August 2008 and then fought for their “right to date” all year long. These beautiful girls, who range in age from thirteen to eighteen, are constantly being chased by boys.

Yessica, the oldest girl in Casa Esperanza, a Hope Program home on the Back2Back campus

Yessica, the oldest girl in Casa Esperanza, our Hope Program home on the Back2Back campus

Yessica is the oldest girl in our house and has been “getting to know” a certain “friend boy,” (who we have met and scrutinized). He invited Yessica to a family gathering, which would require us to meet his parents.  We put on our most “adult looking attire” and nervously left for our meeting. I asked my husband, Gabo, to please not embarrass her, reminding him that it wasn’t too many years ago that he was meeting my parents for the first time.  As we drove to their house, we prayed that they would understand our intentions. This was, after all, a first for us.

Yessica understands that we love her and want to protect her. We want to know that the people she hangs out with have her best interests in mind. We want Yessica to make good decisions, and honor the Lord. We want to do so much for her, and yet are reminded how limited we are. We can teach our children in the short time they are with us, but then we must trust their future to the Lord.

Meeting his family was great and we had peace that we had done the right thing. We left knowing that Yessica felt valued and special. As parents-to-be to Baby Velasco, we are learning how tough it is to let go of the future and of people we love. We want to hold them as tight as we can, and never let anything bad happen. We are grateful that our baby will have a jumpstart on knowing God’s love. Unfortunately, abandonment and abuse have robbed many of the girls in the Hope Program from feeling the security of God’s plan for them. We trust their hearts will heal and they will get in step with the amazing plan God has before them.

Bringing Light to Darkness, by Jim Betscher

August 19, 2009

Many times when we take a group of Americans to serve at Rio III, an impoverished community in Monterrey, Mexico, I tell them that we are bringing Light to the Darkness. As soon as we get off the bus, we can see the darkness that is associated with sin. If we only look at the shanty community, we could be depressed by the conditions that the people live in. I know that unthinkable things happen to the children that live there. Many suffer from abuse and neglect at the hands of those who should love and care for them.

Children outside their home at Rio III

Children outside their home at Rio III - © DSL Images

In the gospel of Luke, Jesus says, “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be brought out in the open.” (Luke 8:16,17 NIV) We know that a light shines brightest in total darkness. We want to put the Light on a stand so that all can see it!

Realistically, I know that the hundreds of kids who live in Rio III may never own a car or eat three meals a day or live in a house like I do. But, I will feed them and clothe them and work to meet their needs of health care and shelter in the name of Christ.  By meeting these needs, I gain a platform to share with them the eternal salvation God offers them, through His son Jesus. My ultimate desire is that they will be able to spend eternity in a place that knows no pain or suffering.

Darkness, like the streets of Rio III can be pretty scary sometimes. But darkness always disappears when light confronts it. We simply want to be that Light!

Well Worth the Investment, by Matt Cooper

August 17, 2009

An Afternoon with Edgar

I know what people are thinking.  Starbucks? What a waste of money.  Ok, not everyone.  Those who love cold coffee drinks would argue that it’s worth it.  The truth is a trip to Starbucks is not something that I make a habit of.  An opportunity to connect with one of our Hope Program students, however, is something that’s worth the investment.

A couple of weeks ago Edgar moved into our home.  He is seventeen and just two weeks into his college career.  He’s new to our program and is filled with questions.  The thing about most seventeen-year-old boys though is that it can be like pulling teeth to get them to verbalize their questions, and much more so their thoughts.

We’ve just come out of a very busy season here in Monterrey, and Edgar unfortunately moved in during the last couple weeks of that season.  The great news is that today Edgar and I had the chance to hang out together one-on-one.  I needed to drop off a student at school so that they could turn-in a summer project.  As I was about to run out the door, I shouted to Edgar, “Come on, I’m taking you out!”  He quickly grabbed his shoes and we were off.

After we dropped the other student at school, my only intention was to find some place for Edgar and I to sit and chat.  It had crossed my mind to find a café to grab a coke, or an ice cream shop, but we just happened across a quaint little Starbucks.  It was Edgar’s first visit and of course his first Venti Caramel Frappucino.  More importantly it was ninety minutes to connect on a personal level.  It was a chance to have a great conversation.  We talked about school and personal growth; we talked about my expectations for Edgar and about his aspirations; we talked about his adjustment to someplace new; and in the end we talked about God’s provision, God’s plan, and Edgar’s understanding of who God is.  I could not have been more pleased with the time.

The money spent at Starbucks was well worth the investment.  The fruit from that hour and a half invested in Edgar may not be fully realized this side of eternity, but I have a feeling that our conversation was a start to a great relationship.  I have a feeling it was a conversation and investment that is going to bring many great returns.

Edgar, the newest addition to the Hope Program's James House

Edgar, the newest addition to the Hope Program's James House

Ribbons and Bows, by Claire Rogers

August 5, 2009

Last year, Casey Ochs attended the 7th grade at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. Her world studies’ teacher, Steve McCollum, leads a mission trip to Back2Back’s Monterrey, Mexico base every year.  During class, Casey saw a picture of a little girl that Steve had taken during an outreach to Rio III, a squatter’s village that Back2Back serves.  The little girl in the photograph had a chicken bone in her hair.  Steve explained to Casey that the bone was the only thing the girl’s mother had to put in her daughter’s hair.

Upon hearing that, Casey felt called to do something, so she took action, inviting the girls in her class, as well as her teachers, to bring in ribbon and barrettes to make hair pieces for the girls in Mexico.  She called her outreach “Ribbons & Bows.” Casey worked tirelessly collecting donations and hosting bow-making parties, where she and her friends assembled hundreds of hair pieces.  Last spring, over Easter break, Casey was able to see the fruit of her labors.  Steve McCollum led a group to Back2Back Mexico.  While there, Steve’s group traveled to the Rio with Back2Back staff members to hand-deliver beautiful new hair bows to the girls in the Rio.

God desires to use each of us, like Casey, to make a difference by responding to the call He has put on our heart –we must just be willing.  Casey’s story is a wonderful example of the impact we can make when we become attentive to the needs of others and respond with action.

The girls collected bows, ribbons and barrettes to assemble into beautiful hair pieces

The girls collected bows, ribbons and barrettes to assemble into beautiful hair pieces

Casey and her friends at a bow making party

Casey with her friends at a bow making party

A few of the finished products

A few of the finished products

Casey and her friends distributing bows to girls at the Rio

Distributing bows to girls at the Rio in Monterrey, Mexico

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.

Lola, by Brian Hubers, B2B Mission Trip Guest

July 27, 2009

Last week I traveled with a group from Northstar Vineyard to Monterrey, Mexico for a week-long mission trip with Back2Back.  It was my first time there and it was nothing short of incredible.

On Sunday, our first day in Monterrey, we served at Casa Hogar Douglas (CHD), a local orphanage. Some of us started working on leveling uneven terrain to prepare for the concrete that would be poured there starting on Monday.  It was hard physical labor but there is something therapeutic and satisfying about a project that a team can sink its teeth into and see results.  When I stopped for a water break, I noticed a young lady sitting on the cement floor of the palapa, or outdoor shelter area.  She was tired and unable to stay awake.  It was apparent that she had some type of disability.  I filled up my water bottle and headed back to my digging.  We made great progress with our project.  As we wrapped up for the day, I was looking forward to the concrete work on Monday and seeing the area transformed.

Each evening, there is a time of worship and debriefing about the day.  On Sunday night a Back2Back staff member, challenged us to get out of our comfort zone and try something different on Monday.  She said, “If you naturally gravitate toward working on the concrete project, maybe you should paint or spend time with the children.”  That hit me.  I knew that was for me.  I love working with children, but I have to admit I was feeling anxious about the language barrier.  I wanted to see the concrete project completed and I felt like being with the kids all day would be more challenging.  But God had something else in mind.

Monday morning we returned to CHD.  I decided to step-out of my comfort zone and join the team that was playing with the children. As I headed to the palapa, where some of the children were congregating, I noticed the same young lady from Sunday.  I took her hand and together we walked to a picnic bench and sat down.  I learned that her name was Lola.  As we began to interact I couldn’t tell if she could hear me or see me.  I said a few words in Spanish and English but she didn’t react.  Someone gave her a lollipop and she held it a couple of inches from her face to see what it was.  Lola then handed it to me to open.  I glance to my left and notice a line of wheelbarrows at the work site and question if I should really be playing with the children, rather than helping with the concrete.

Just then, the Lord quieted my heart and in that moment, I knew that I was exactly where I needed to be.  Although I didn’t know if Lola could hear or see me I talked to her.  We patted hands a lot and every once in a while she smiled.  She only had a few teeth but nonetheless her smile was beautiful.  It hits me that I should start praying for her.  Once I started praying blessing and protection over her, I just couldn’t stop.  The words kept flowing and before I knew it I had been praying for twenty minutes.  Then, my prayer turned into song and I began singing praises.  Simply put, it was “a God thing”.  I had never done that before; it’s all I can do to stay focused in prayer for five minutes.

One of the other older kids from the home came over to take her somewhere.  Maybe she was trying to rescue me or perhaps she was jealous of all the time and attention someone else was receiving.  But Lola wouldn’t budge.  She held my hand, refusing to stand up.  I tried to communicate to the other girl that it was okay for Lola to stay with me, but I couldn’t tell if she understood.  We continued spending time together, her face beaming as she started to pat my face, first gently and then more aggressively until she was almost smacking my cheeks.  It hurt, but she was enjoying it so I smiled all the more.  By that point, Lola and I had spent over an hour together.  It was a sweet time in His presence.  I had seen her as God saw her and I couldn’t get over her true beauty.

Then, it was time for lunch and that did get her attention.  After she left to eat, I talked with a Back2Back staff member, who explained to me that Lola has severe Down’s Syndrome and is actually 38 years old!  After lunch, Lola and some of the other children took a rest.  I didn’t see her for the remainder of the day.

That night I couldn’t stop thinking about her or talking about my time with her. I shared with the team that although I didn’t think Lola could see or hear me, the hour we spent together was truly wonderful.

On Tuesday morning, a group of men from our team had the privilege of serving breakfast to the kids at CHD.  The kids had no idea we were coming.  Not only do they treasure extra time with the visiting teams, but most of the homes can’t afford to serve the children breakfast, so the meal itself is a special treat.

The kids were still asleep as we prepared breakfast.  When we finished, we rang a bell to wake them.  All twenty of us created a receiving line.  As sleepy little ones with eyes half open headed our way, we cheered to greet them.  Their excitement was visible.  I saw Lola coming toward us.  I was excited, but at the same time I didn’t know what to expect.  She walked straight to me and grabbed my hand.  I escorted her in to breakfast and served her.  And what an honor it was! The guys decided to sing and dance for the children. Lola watched, smiling her near toothless smile.  It was the most beautiful thing I saw the entire trip.

Spending time with Lola

Spending time with Lola

Back to School, by Back2Back India Staff

July 24, 2009

Ahhh, those familiar words…..Have you even thought about “Back to School” yet?

The children in India returned to school in mid-June. Their “summer holiday” is during May when the temperatures reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit. You can imagine how hot a classroom is that doesn’t even have a ceiling fan, let alone A/C, because the school building doesn’t have electricity.

In the state where Back2Back India operates, the local language is Telugu. There are Telugu medium government and private schools in which all instruction is done in Telugu. There are also private English medium schools in which all instruction is in English. Since English is the preferred language of commerce, English medium schools are highly desirable.

Eternal Joy Home is one of the children’s homes that B2B India works with. Last year the children went to a government Telugu medium school that was several kilometers from the children’s home.  There was no transportation provided. The directors and children fervently prayed for a better situation. In June, this home received a huge blessing. The principal of a nearby Catholic English medium school came by and offered to enroll the children in his school and provide bus transportation. What an answer to prayers!

During English class at their new school

During English class at their new school

With this blessing come several challenges. The children, who are up to age twelve, speak only Telugu. They know a few English phrases – “How are you?” “What is your name?” “Praise the Lord!” and sing one or two Bible songs in English. But for the most part, they do not read or comprehend English very well. So all the children were placed in the kindergarten classes to see how they would do. In just a few short weeks, several of them were moved up one or two class levels.

This week I learned that one of the girls is 1st rank (has the highest scores in the class) in Telugu subject. Her brother is 1st rank in Social Studies. And another boy is 1st rank in English! God is so good.

This young boy recently ranked 1st in his class in English

This young boy recently ranked 1st in his class in English

These children have a long way to go in their education but what an awesome opportunity God has provided them! This is a great example of B2B’s vision to break the cycle of poverty with education.  Please pray with us and the children that they continue to do well in school and live out the amazing plan God has for their lives.

Shelter in Unexpected Forms, by Mandy Lail

July 22, 2009

This week I have been thinking about shelter in unexpected forms.  Take one of my boys, Homero, for example.  When Homero was twelve years old, he came to live at Manantial de Amor, one of the children’s homes in Monterrey.  He had gotten into a lot of trouble at various schools and even with the police.  His mother was at a loss at how to handle him.  A family member lived near Manantial de Amor, so his mother decided to take him there even though she lives two hours south by bus.  After three years at Manantial de Amor, Homero moved in with us to participate in the Hope Program with Back2Back.

Most of us find it difficult to understand how a mother can take her child to a children’s home.  And even more, we find it difficult to understand how God can shelter a child there.  How a life without their family, a life in a group home can be a form of shelter.  The reality is that for many of these kids a children’s home is a safer place than they came from.  It’s not perfect, sometimes not even pretty, but for many much safer. This can be a hard concept for us to understand.

But for me when I look at Homero . . . it is so clear how God has not only sheltered him but continues to pursue him.  Living at Manantial de Amor removed him from a dangerous path he was on.  He was making bad decision after bad decision and thankfully his mother intervened.  If she hadn’t, I think he would likely be in jail. God provided not only physical shelter, not only removed him from a dangerous path but provided Homero spiritual shelter.  Through the spiritual influence of the director Edgar, Homero started a relationship with Jesus while living at Manantial.  And now he lives with us where he has the opportunity to receive a solid education and spiritual influence, while experiencing family life.

Recently we had to tell Homero “no” when he asked to visit his hometown over the weekend.  He had been back several times in the previous months and we were becoming more and more concerned with his trips there.  From what information we could gather after the fact, he was making questionable decisions again, hanging out with his old crowd and spending little time with his mother while there.  At his last request we both felt super uneasy about the prospect and decided to not let him go.  He handled it well and even seemed relieved.  Later he told us that he had thought God didn’t want him to go.

About two weeks later, his mother showed up unexpectedly.   When she asked to speak privately with us, we were concerned she was angry we had not let Homero visit.  Instead, through tears, she asked us to not let him visit his hometown any more.  She too was concerned about his visits and decisions.  She knew it meant she would see him less, but she was willing to sacrifice her time with him to ensure he stayed on his current path.  She knows what opportunities he has here at Back2Back and she wants him to compromise them.

To me it’s so clear.  God has sheltered Homero over and over again; through a children’s home, through Back2Back and especially through his mother.  Many would look at her and judge her inability to parent.  I look at her and see a woman who is fighting for her son the only way she knows how. It’s unexpected, it’s not what I would have picked but it is so clearly God’s shelter for my foster son.  And I am thankful.

Homero with his mom at graduation

Homero with his mom at graduation

Mirrors, by Back2Back India Staff

July 17, 2009

How many times a day do you look at yourself in the mirror? Catch a glimpse in the rear view mirror? Check that your tie is straight? Stand sideways to see if you look thinner?

For five months, we lived in an apartment that did not have a mirror. Other basic living needs always seemed to take priority over getting a mirror hung. Interestingly, several things happened without having a mirror – my husband stopped shaving and I didn’t see my increasing number of gray hairs! But why do we look in the mirror? Is it about vanity and self-absorption? If we are always looking at ourselves, what are we missing?

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror…

Mirror Reflection

Windex will shine up a mirror and make the reflection more clear. But I’m still looking at ME. By not looking at myself for those months, I had more time to look at others.

… then we shall see face to face. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

When we see face to face, it’s no longer just about us. When we look at someone instead of fixating on ourselves, we can see them – their hopes, their fears, their dreams. Looking at someone face to face means you have to get close. You have to interact.

Face to Face

Many of the children that we serve are the least and the last in Indian society. They don’t always look so good – their face may be dirty or their clothing torn. But when you spend time with them you realize that they are truly beautiful. Innocent, sweet children who greet you warmly and whose eyes light up when you remember their name.

When we get to heaven, we will see God face to face. But for now, when we look at these precious children, we can see a glimpse of God here on earth. Who are you looking at?

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?

Eyes Wide Open, by Hannah Cesler, Back2Back India Summer Intern

July 10, 2009

My first week interning with Back2Back India has opened my eyes. There is no way I could have been fully prepared for my initial visit to this hostel (children’s home) in rural India. I was a little nervous when we pulled up, but was instantly comforted by familiar verses painted on the walls in English and the native language, Telegu.

One of the girls in the children's home helping with meal prep

One of the girls in the children's home helping with meal prep

Upon arrival, I was given a tour of the girl’s dorm. Each room (equivalent to the size of my bedroom) is meant to house eight girls. Since the children are used to sleeping on the ground, they are somewhat able to fit in these rooms.  Some older girls came to greet us and they asked me to lead them in the song, “If you’re happy and you know it” which the kids knew even better than I did! I was especially amazed by the sanctuary. It was clean, open and bright—it made me happy to know these kids were getting the best when they were worshipping Jesus.

After we explored the girl’s side of the hostel, we went to check out a new project being started to expand the boy’s dorm. Seeing the method of construction blew my mind–hundreds of sticks were used to support the building while construction continued right on! Twice as many men were working on the building than were needed. Due to the low labor wages in India, this is not an unusual occurrence. I was just starting to pick up on the inefficiency behind a lot of what goes on in India!

Construction Workers in India

Construction Project in India

We stumbled into some of the bathrooms on the boy’s side. They looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in years and the smell was something no child should have to face every day. Apparently, this kind of cleaning is meant only for the lowest of workers in India; therefore, a bathroom will be left filthy before anyone would voluntarily take care of these duties. I started to get overwhelmed and frustrated at the reality of how much there was to do and how much I didn’t understand about this country.

It was the first day of the new school year and it seemed a bit strange to only see a couple boys running around. The classrooms were empty, both of people and of any sort of wall décor. We talked with one of the teachers who informed us that the kids take several weeks getting back to school. For those that return on time, the month of June is a bit slow as government schools typically prolong starting school until the majority of kids have returned. We learned of the efforts to fund the teachers and the cost of buying enough books for the children. It astounded me to learn that it would only take about $100/month to finance a teacher and $3/year to provide each student their textbooks!

Following the tour, we were invited into the director’s home where we were served mangoes and authentic Indian food. It was evident the difficulties due to lack of funding are only the beginning. Several factors play a role that are not so easy for the American mind to fully understand. With the majority of India being Hindu, many people find the significance of “fate” very important. In other words, if a child is orphaned or disabled, they believe it is their fate and therefore people do not feel obligated to help them. Poverty is rampant, women face oppression on a daily basis, and the people look to false gods for answers. In the Christian community, however, there is hope.

At this hostel, so many difficulties these children would be facing on the street are being avoided. With a little support these children can receive even more attention–a better education, improved facilities and the spiritual care they need to go on to do great things.

While the poor situation at this hostel was disturbing to me, I am hopeful with the direction and support of Back2Back, paired with the love of Jesus in these workers’ hearts–this place can transform! Once I got past my initial frustrations and focused on the numerous projects on the horizon, it’s easy to understand why Back2Back is called to be in India. I truly cannot wait to see what God has in mind for this hostel, the future of these children, and India!

Making a Difference, by Angela Ramos

July 6, 2009

Being in Nigeria for almost four weeks I have often wondered if we are making a difference here.  Will we ever fully know the answer to that question?  Before coming here our desire was to come to help out where needed and to serve the people here – whatever that looks like.  Now that we are here it seems that what we do is so little because the need here is so great.

A few Fridays ago we handed out a bag of corn and rice along with oil to each family in the Kisayhip Village.  We split up into teams and along with a translator we went into everyone’s homes and gave them the elements.  We also prayed with them.  We told them we were there because we wanted them to know that God loves them.  We also wanted to let them know that Back2Back is building a compound close to their village and that our goal is to help them and the community.  We will use this future Back2Back compound to host our missionaries and groups that come for a mission trip.  We felt it was important to make an impact on the village so they know we are here to serve them.

Chris Ramos praying with a family in the Kisayhip Village

Chris Ramos praying with a family in the Kisayhip Village

We know that we made an impact, but will we ever really understand how much?  As we left the village to return to our house where we have electricity (sometimes), running water and food, I don’t think we can completely understand without being in their shoes.

I was struggling with questions about what it means to make a difference here until God began to show me that this is not about me.  I may never know the extent of our impact but I am to be obedient to the calling on my life.  I may never get the warm fuzzies.  I may never see the benefits of our labor here.  But, that is okay.  God has given me peace and God is right, of course, this isn’t about me.

In Isaiah 58 God talks about true fasting.  From that scripture, I am learning that God sees our hearts and true intentions.  He doesn’t just want one day of fasting, a fasting that is like “Okay, I fasted for a day, I did my duty, and now I’m done.”  Our lives are to be lived day in and day out by feeding the hungry, setting free the oppressed, providing shelter for the homeless and clothing the naked.  I love the part of the scripture where it talks about what God will do when we fast in such a way.  I love it that He goes before me and His glory will be my rear guard. He will answer me when I call and when I do cry out to Him He will say “Here I am”.

We are called to resist the urge to live our lives for ourselves.  Yes, God has a plan for my life here and He will grow us personally and as a family. We may never know how much we’re helping, but what I do know is that God is our protector, our healer and he answers us when we call.  That is so much better than a warm fuzzy.

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

Sarahi, by Cathy Huffer

July 1, 2009

There has been a faithful Back2Back supporter, who I’ll call Jill, who has regularly donated money for a little girl named Sarahi.  Sarahi lives in the Rio, which is one of the squatter’s villages that Back2Back serves. Sarahi is eight years old and just finishing 2nd grade.  Jill has helped to fund Sarahi’s education and provide staples for her family when they were without food and other basic necessities.

Sarahi

Sarahi

Recently, I told Meme, who helps with our Rio ministry, that I needed to talk to Sarahi’s mother, to see what they needed as I had just received another donation from Jill on their behalf. Meme informed me that Sarahi’s mother had kicked her out of the house and that her grandmother had taken her in. Sarahi’s mom is currently pregnant with twins and has another daughter who is a few years younger than Sahari who was allowed to stay in the home. I have had many people, Meme, Sarahi and her grandmother, try and explain this to me and yet it’s still difficult for me to understand how this can happen.

I could see the hurt on Sarahi’s face when she asked another woman and myself to pray for her. As I prayed, I told her that this was not a surprise to God and that He had already had placed someone in the states, Jill, to care for her. That was just one way God was showing her that He loves her. I don’t know what a girl that age can understand but her countenance changed drastically after our conversation.

I shared our theme verse of Psalm 91:1-2.  “He that dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress. My God, in whom, I trust.”

As Sarahi learns to trust the Lord, He is showing her how He can shelter her through her grandmother, through Jill and through others like you who are praying for her.  Will you take a moment to lift up Sarahi in prayer today?

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?

No Better Place to Be, by Christy McMurry

June 19, 2009

I have learned that my definition of submitting to authority and God’s definition is oftentimes very different. God’s definition of submission is to voluntarily arrange yourself under authority. When we do that, we cooperate with a leader in order to ultimately accomplish a much larger work than we could ever do on our own.

In the past, I had always viewed submission as being weak or somehow being in bondage to people or situations I did not want to be enslaved by.  I was always an independent person, thinking I knew exactly what I wanted and that I not God was in control. Thank goodness He never gave up on me and put just the right people in my life at key times to speak the truth in love.

For example, I have the great privilege to work with followers of Christ everyday who are submitting to not just God’s authority over their lives but they are also submitting to one another to accomplish the goal of carrying out God’s orders regarding the poor, and children that have been abandoned.  I am in awe of the fine people that I work with every single day and the sacrifices that they make in order for our world to be a better place and to carry out God’s work.

I am learning how to submit to authority every single day and am actively seeking out situations to submit by simply being an active listener to those in need and responding by speaking God’s truth to them, by praying over those that need prayer at any given time, and by not rebelling when God is clearly trying to tell me something.

I have finally begun to realize that when I submit to God and live my life the way He intended, I get the best results and experience life in a way I couldn’t be more thankful for. As I continue to apply God’s truth of submission to the other areas of my life I know I will find peace, excitement, love, joy, and all the things I’ve been wanting for my life all along. When I submit to authority I am under God’s covering.  And there is no better place to be!

Hands Open

The Gift of Hope, by Angela Ramos

June 6, 2009

This week, Chris Ramos, Back2Back Director of Missions, is heading off to Jos, Nigeria with his wife, Angie and their three sons.  For three months, they will be staying at the Back2Back Nigeria base and serving in the local community.  As they prepare to leave, Angie reflects on her first visit to Nigeria, nearly three years ago when she and her husband Chris served alongside Back2Back missionaries, Jason and Emilee Munafo.  Continue reading to discover how Angie experienced hope in a fresh way.

It was October of 2006 and we were mid-way through our stay in Jos, Nigeria.  I sat on the floor of the place where we were staying and I looked at the four of us Americans sitting there.  I was overwhelmed and scared and feeling sick to my stomach.  The need there is so great and so many were depending on us to help them.  I thought to myself, how? How is this all going to fall into place?  How is God going to make this all happen through Chris and me and Jason and Emilee?

I remember feeling so small and powerless and what was before us was so big.  I knew there would be so much work that needed to be done when we got back to the US and in my sense of panic, I felt like there wasn’t much time.  My mind was spinning with so many different thoughts.  I knew right then that God was going to stretch our faith and we were going to grow and learn to depend on the Lord more than we had thought.  With so many people there looking to us for help, part of me wanted to just turn around and go back and say forget it, it’s too much.

Later that week we were at the village telling everyone good-bye and reminding them that we would be back soon.  Word that we were there spread so quickly, that by the time we were getting back into our car to go to the airport, we were informed that Ikira, the “agricultural guy” of the village of 1,000 people, contracted typhoid.  Ikira had showed us the village a few days before.  He walked us around the place.  We had spent several hours with him and many of the villagers that day.  Now, he was very sick and needed money for medicine.  He thought if he could just let us know that he was sick, that we would be able to help.  Not really knowing what we could do at this point, we asked one of the villagers to help us.  Minutes later the three of us were getting into the car and the villager was directing us to the medical facility where Ikira was staying.

We walked into the dirty hut-like building not knowing what to expect.  From the outside, it looked like an old condemned building.  It was dark and very small.  My bathroom medicine cabinet probably had more supplies in it than this place.  There was a women sitting on a cot holding her very sick baby.  Ikira was lying on another cot, hooked up to an IV.  When Ikira saw us he sat up and smiled.  He had hope.  We had felt so helpless, but despite that when Ikira looked at us he had hope.

Looking back at that moment, it all seems so clear to me now.  It’s as if I am experiencing that moment all over again.  HOPE.  That’s what we bring through Christ.  How could I turn back and say “forget it”? God has a plan and that plan involves us.  As we reach out our hand to help others, it’s really God’s hand reaching out.  It was really God’s feet that walked into that medical building to check on Ikira, not mine.  He reaches when we reach out and He steps when we step.  God loves the Nigerians we’re serving (John 3:16) and has a plan of hope that involves Chris and me (and our boys).  It involves everyone who will step up and give to this ministry.  It’s in these moments that we have such an amazing opportunity to tell them how much our Creator in heaven adores them and wants to have a relationship with them.

Ever since that trip Chris and I have been amazed at “how” God is putting all of the pieces together.  As I sat on that floor in Nigeria and wondered how, I sure didn’t know, but God did.  I am so glad He has a plan.  Chris and I are humbled that He has chosen us to be a part of it.  Now we are on the brink of a new experience as we get ready to leave for Nigeria.  This time it’s with my whole family.  It’s a different dynamic.  But we are still offering the same thing:  HOPE through Christ.

Children in the Village

Children in the Village

Handing out soccer balls to children in the village with the Munafos

Handing out soccer balls to children in the village with the Munafos

Chris spending time with a child from the village

Chris spending time with a child from the village

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!