Posts Tagged ‘orphans’

Merry Christmas from Back2Back Ministries!

December 24, 2011

Ephesians 4:4-7 says, “We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future.” This Christmas season, we are grateful for you and your commitment to joining us in providing care for today and hope for tomorrow to orphans around the world. We rejoice that we serve a God who is in passionate pursuit of the orphan child. As you gather with family and friends to celebrate, thank you for continuing to remember the orphans we serve. On behalf of all of us at Back2Back, thank you for being a part of the Back2Back family and for serving alongside us!

 

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Bringing Medical Care to those in Need, by Courtney Ewing, Back2Back Mexico Staff

December 19, 2011

As a medical team of forty-six people invaded our campus for three short days, we witnessed a new meaning for our mission of bringing “care for today, hope for tomorrow” or orphans and children in need.  These doctors and nurses met immediate needs, such as prescribing medicine for runny noses and sore throats, while also providing comfort and reassurance to those with fear of a future with diabetes. It was a marathon of a weekend, but it allowed many individuals who had never seen a doctor in their lifetime to receive answers and medicine, making tomorrow seem more hopeful. It was a blast to have an entire “medical army”! I loved witnessing them use their talents as they furthered the Kingdom – one runny nose at a time.

Checking-in at the Back2Back medical clinic


The waiting area quickly filled with families in need of medical care. Volunteers engaged with the children who were waiting.


Aaron, a nurse from Akron, checked vitals


Chrissy, a recent nursing graduate from Malone, was eager to use her nursing skills to give back to those in need.


Patients visited the make-shift pharmacy at the end of their visit.


Thank you to the medical team from Ohio and Florida, sponsored by tjhe Juniper Tree Foundation!

The Juniper Tree Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to assisting orphans and widows in need. In October 2008, through a grant from the Juniper Tree Foundation, the Juniper Tree Clinic was established on the campus of Back2Back Ministries in Monterrey, Mexico in order to meet the physical needs of the children served by Back2Back. Back2Back Ministries is an international Christian non-profit organization that provides care for orphan children and impoverished people across the globe, serving over 1,000 orphans and families in Monterrey alone.

The orphanages that Back2Back and the Juniper Tree Foundation serve lack funding to offer the children basic medical care, such as routine check-ups and dental visits. Most illnesses are left untreated unless they are extremely critical. For many of the children, their only access to medical care is through the Juniper Tree Clinic.

The Juniper Tree Foundation facilitates opportunities for American medical professionals to meet this practical need, by participating in short-term medical mission trips, providing vital services to orphans, as well as impoverished families in surrounding communities.

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.

Kisayhip Youth Development Update, by Will Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

November 20, 2011

The last few months have been busy for the Kisayhip Youth Development (KYD), a community youth outreach program sponsored by Back2Back.  The KYD has sought the best way to give back to their community.  Our hope is to guide the discussion for their own discovery of how they can best give back. So far these discussions have led to several ideas for the group.

One idea they are working towards is raising chickens. This work can quickly become profitable and is easy for a group to manage. KYD has been looking for ways to make money to begin this project and is currently molding mud blocks to sell with plans to use the profits to benefit the community.

Children in the Kisayhip Youth Development Program volunteer to benefit their community.

The second idea they have is one Back2Back hopes to partner much more with them on. Back2Back and KYD want to use dry season farming in community development. Dry season farming is very profitable here but not done very much do to lack of resources. We hope to provide some of the missing resources so KYD can reap the full benefits of the project. The goal is to help the individual youth in the project eventually be able to break off on their own and farm for a living.

KYD has three things they want to do with the profit of these projects. One third of the profit would go to community development projects such as paying school fees for children, providing food for widows and helping to bring electricity to the village, among others. Another third would be individual sustainability for the youth who work the specific project, so the work not only benefits the community but also the youth by providing jobs. The final third is for project sustainability where money would be used for maintenance and further project development such as increasing the number of chickens or amount of land they farm.

Back2Back realizes as KYD moves forward with these projects the individuals in the group need to progress in their personal development as well. One area of greatest need for development is biblical character and integrity. Because of the rampant corruption that has spilled it’s way into every area of life in Nigeria the youth have very few good examples of character and integrity. To combat this, Back2Back staff member and national, Daniel Asama, is leading weekly talks about biblical character and integrity with KYD. He uses practical examples to call them to a higher standard of living. We hope this higher standard becomes the example and eventual “status quo” in the village.

Please continue to pray for the youth in KYD who are stepping out in faith to bring sustainable change to their village.

Introducing Back2Back’s Newest Site: Mazatlan, Mexico, by J.J. Lail, Director of Back2Back Mazatlan

November 18, 2011

Mazatlan, Mexico - Back2Back's Newest Site

The ever-growing statistic of 163 million orphans in the world tells us that there is plenty of work to be done to serve “the least of these.” Back2Back desires to not only be a
voice for orphan children but to also go where God leads to serve them directly. In the last year, God has been leading Back2Back to launch a new site in Mazatlan, Mexico,“The Pearl of the Pacific.”

The opportunity to serve in Mazatlan has come through our ministry partnership with Riverview Church in Lansing, Michigan, who has been supporting and taking trips to children’s homes in Mazatlan for a number of years.  As Back2Back has expanded its ministry sites, we have created a process for new site development, which is a strategic approach to thoroughly researching the site and prayerfully considering our calling there. Back2Back has taken two exploratory trips to the area and we feel like God has orchestrated and ordained our visits there. We know of six children’s homes in the Mazatlan area and have visited and begun relationships with the directors and caretakers in five of the six homes. The directors and caretakers all share a deep love of God and a deep desire for the children in their care to experience a brighter future. We have also made a connection with a social worker from the DIF, Mexico’s Department of Children’s Services.

Executive Director, Todd Guckenberger, JJ Lail and a friend of the ministry with directors of one of the children's homes that Back2Back Mazatlan will serve

On our most recent visit, we spent time with three pastors of local churches in Mazatlan. We are confident that we will be able to partner with these churches to help meet
the needs of orphans in Mazatlan. This fall, two boys from one of the children’s homes there, Rancho de los Niños, will be coming to Monterrey to be a part of the Hope Education Program. This fall, Back2Back is making decisions about staffing for the new site, contacting possible partners to champion the ministry in Mazatlan, taking another trip to Mazatlan to look for staff and mission team housing, and continuing the relationships with the children’s homes. The goal is to have staff on the ground at Back2Back Mazatlan the beginning of 2012 and hosting mission teams of up to twenty-five individuals.

If you have questions or would like to know more about how you can partner with Back2Back Mazatlan, please contact J.J. Lail at jlail@back2backministries.org or 513-250-8296.

Prerequisites to Success, by Caroline Burns, Back2Back Mexico Staff

October 28, 2011

I’m sure that you’ve heard a million times that reading is fundamental to learning. Imagine a 3rd or 5th grader trying to tackle his math word problems for homework but has no idea what the problem is because he can’t read so he waits for you to read it to him and help him set up the math. This scene is far too common place for me to stomach sometimes. But orphans in orphanages don’t always get the amount of individualized attention they need to succeed academically. This is a huge deal when you consider that the ticket out for these kids is their education.

When I was little, my mom took me to the public library every single week to pick out all my favorite books. I recently tried to find my original copies of all my favorite childhood stories and realized that we never actually owned most of them but rather we just checked them out of the library over and over again. My mom read to me before bed. As I got older, she required that me and my siblings read for one hour every summer afternoon – like it or not. She was onto something here…

Day after day here at the institution I work at, seeing the night and day difference between my academic upbringing and the snip its of time orphans receive for reading instruction – if at all – got me thinking. Add to the situation the fact that public libraries in Mexico are a foreign concept for the kids.

I am in charge of different dorms of kids on different days so I decided about a year ago to start incorporating reading into my day with the boys. It was easy with the little guys because they love sitting in your lap and hearing a story read out loud but I was nervous about the 9 to 12 year old bunch. They have surprised me because they actually love it. They laugh as they comprehend funny parts of the stories. They smile. They don’t hate reading like I thought they would. We read out loud for 20 minutes. These 20 minutes which can sometimes go on for an hour when certain boys want to take their 20 minutes of reading individually by reading out loud to me is honestly my favorite part of my entire day with this dorm.

Many of the books that we read on a weekly basis have been donated my several of you. Thank you for shopping online or in bookstores for children’s books in Spanish. Thank you for donating to these childrens’ future.

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

June 20, 2011

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

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

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

Back to School, by Mindy Webster, Back2Back Mexico Staff

April 29, 2011

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

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

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

High, Low, Thankful, by The Whited Family, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 8, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  This Christmas was very interesting.  We had never realized how dependant we were on the mental stimulus for the holidays that comes from the weather, fireplaces, stores playing music (in English) and the constant reminder from the upcoming ABC Family Christmas shows.   But rest assured with all of those things gone we still had four amazing and very real reminders of exactly what time of year it was!

Most of the kids we work with have somewhere to go for Christmas:  mom or dad, aunt or uncle, grandparent, someone that will step in and at least help them avoid the pain of waking up alone in a children’s home on Christmas morning; but a few don’t.

We had the opportunity to have a family of four at our house for the Christmas Holiday.   In the midst of our very limited Spanish and their non existent English, these 14, 12, 11, and 10 year olds gave us a crash course on what Christmas was all about. We had such a great time.  We played Wii, fed them sugar cereal, and took them out for hamburgers. (All of which was a first for them) There was money donated from a few people that had been on mission trips to Back2Back for their Christmas gifts.  It was a real joy watching them open their gifts and have stockings with their names on them.  One of the boys loves music and playing the guitar.  A B2B supporter from the United States bought him a used acoustic guitar and sent it down, he was ecstatic when he saw it!

For those of you that know us well or have had dinner with us as a family, you have probably experienced the Whited mealtime tradition of “High, Low, and Thankful”.  The point is to create conversation, purposeful rabbit trails, and a structured format to share your day with the others around the table.  A day or two before Christmas a good friend of mine named Rodolfo was also a guest for dinner and since he is fluent in five languages I thought this would be the perfect night for high low and thankful.

As we went around the table I was completely shocked and caught off guard by what these kids had to say.  I thought for sure the rare break from beans and tortillas would be a big hit.  Maybe the Carmel corn and amazing line up of movies we picked out would be on the list. Based on the kind of “lows” I have some days, I was even a little nervous to include that part of the game knowing it could get ugly or negative pretty quick.  After all was said and done there was one common theme with each one of these kids.  Each and everyone, above all else, were thankful to have a family to be with for Christmas!  No gifts, no snacks, no movie, just time and attention…love.  The part that really threw me off was that in spite of being asked the same question in different ways not even one of the four could come up with a single “low”.

I have had a lot of Christmas’s, but even with no snow and no TV, I have never felt like I was more in the center of what the season is all about than at that table looking at four lonely kids loving being loved.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support, we miss you all!

The Whited Family

Reflections from My Time in Mexico, by Nate Gangwer, Back2Back Mission Trip Participant

September 13, 2010

It remains extremely difficult to articulate my time in Monterrey, Mexico.  Most of what affected me and changed me and challenged my faith and broke my heart cannot be expressed with words and what can be expressed with words is still too much for a brief paragraph that someone might read.  I could write pages and talk for hours and show dozens of pictures and tell dozens of stories and read Bible verses and share songs and still what I feel in my heart and know down in my soul would be inexpressible.  And if I were asked to comment on my time cutting up tree stumps and loving orphans and serving the kingdom of Christ in Mexico five years from now I would still have great difficulty in sharing my convictions.  So I will limit my writing to one story.

Photo by Nate Gangwer

Throughout the week I had the privilege of removing stumps and trees, serving in a few different orphanages and a Rio.  This task was completed with a tremendous amount of labor and my shirts were often caked with dirt and soaked through with sweat so that mud developed along the front of my clothes.  I spent time fixing a chainsaw which repeatedly broke leaving me and my friends no other choice but to use machetes, pick-axes, and a regular ax which unfortunately broke after only an hour of use.  I tell you this background not for your sympathy or gratitude or approval, but to simply let you know that by the afternoon of our last day serving the beautiful children of Monterrey I was very tired.  I felt like someone had taken metal rods and glued them to my joints so that normal movement was nearly impossible and the word stiffness was a great understatement.

Photo by Nate Gangwer

On the last day, our group took orphans from a children’s home on a field trip.  We went to a local play place with a bouncy house and video games and hot dogs that could be washed down with soda and chips. The kids were eating and I finally had time to stop moving and rest.  So, I crawled up to this little stage at the front and flopped down next to some friends.  Then I looked up and saw for the first time in my life the pinnacle of God’s creation: humanity.

Looking back on the Creation story, God’s glory becomes manifested more and more with each day and the intricacy and mastery of His workmanship becomes more evident.  Creation crescendos and God’s uses all of His glory and might and love and power to create humanity after His image.  On that stage as I watched little boys and girls shove their mouths full with hotdogs and quench their thirsts with soda something inside of me shifted. Something inside me broke.  I have a passion for photography and I find myself standing in awe of God’s created sunsets and mountains and raindrops and beautiful colors and shapes.  But at that moment as my tired body lay on that stage I realized that I had been focusing on the wrong beauty.  Like always my heart missed being aligned with Christ’s.  I was focusing on the beginning of creation and neglecting the masterpiece: us.  The power of the Holy Spirit broke my heart in that realization and my perspective altered. People are the purpose of creation.  They are the reason that God’s justice is fulfilled by His grace.  People are God’s top priority, His primary concern.  Jesus Christ died for no other reason than to satisfy the will of God and bring about a supernatural and divinely controlled communion for the most beautiful thing in all creation.

Image by Nate Gangwer

The word compassion comes from the verb ‘pati’ which means ‘to suffer’ and the word ‘cum’ which means ‘with’ giving a literal translation ‘to suffer with.’  So when Jesus has compassion on the multitude in Matthew 9 He shares in their suffering.  In Colossians, we are challenged to be clothed with compassion.  When Jesus is greeted by the grieving soldier whose daughter had died, Jesus in all His glory and humanity and divinity, knowing the Old Testament claim in Jeremiah 29 that God has a plan for prosperity and comfort of His children, Jesus goes and weeps and mourns with the family even though he knows God is sovereign and even has the power to raise her from the dead, which he does.  In that story Jesus’ humanity and divinity are so intertwined that he has compassion and suffers with His creation.

I hope that we as a society will have brokenness like Jesus and be moved as He was moved.  I hope that we pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to come and grant us the ability to give everything we have to the Kingdom of God and the glory of Christ and have eyes that view the beauty of humanity as God sees it and are then moved to compassion.  May we give as the church in Acts gave and live with such a passion and love for God’s people that miraculous revitalization would sweep through our hearts and turn society to the foot of the cross on which Christ died.  I could write pages on what God taught me in Mexico and the weeks that followed, but instead I encourage you whoever you are to join me and so many of the martyrs and followers of Christ into a place that says ‘Yes Lord, I will follow you and love your people no matter the cost.’  The beautiful children of the world in all their innocence and purity in joy can pull a heart closer to Jesus like few things. The world desperately needs compassion and love; it needs the Gospel.

Photo by Nate Gangwer

Waiting for our Return, by Matt Cooper, Back2Back Mexico Staff

September 7, 2010

Months ago, before Back2Back’s  first trip to explore the possibility of expanding into Cancun, I dreamed of meeting a young boy in Cancun. I’m not sure that I could describe much detail from the dream, other than the fact that I remember entering a children’s home and being greeted by ONE boy, a boy who was very happy to see me, and a boy that was very hungry for my attention.

During our first scouting trip here in March, we visited a home just outside of Cancun. It is a very humble children’s home run by Catholic nuns. The home has eleven children in their care, ten of which are girls, and just one boy, Jorgito.

Matt with Jorgito

During our visit in March, we spent the afternoon visiting with the caretakers, sharing some donations with them, and interacting with the children. I spent a good chunk of time coloring and playing frisbee with Jorgito. He was extremely hungry for attention. He stuck to me like glue that afternoon. As we left, and I thought back to my dream it began to click that perhaps Jorgito was the boy from my dream. It wasn’t as if they had the same face or anything, but rather, it was what the boy in my dream represented. He represented the obvious need, and he represented that we would be well received.

So now we fast forward almost six months and it’s late August.  Julie and I, along with the other Back2Back Cancun Staff, Mauricio and Lizy, went back to visit the home. We pulled in, and one of the first people to come running to see who we were was Jorgito, of course. Keep in mind it’s been almost six months, but immediately he greets me with a big smile and says to me, “You’re Mateo! I remember you!”

I couldn’t get over it. I had spent all but a couple of hours with the boy, SIX months ago, and it was as if he had been waiting for me to come back. When we walked further onto their property I ran into one of the nuns working at the children’s home, the same one who had received us in March. She too immediately remembered us. She said, “You’re Matt, from Back2Back. We’ve been waiting and wondering, but I just figured you weren’t coming back at this point.”

Excitedly I was able to explain that now we will be living in Cancun full-time, and that we want to serve them in any way that we can. I really could barely get over the fact that not only the caretaker, but also this small boy very clearly remembered us and had been waiting for our return. In a prophetic sense, this spoke volumes to me. Their very expectancy told me that we are needed here. It was a great moment of confirmation from the Lord that we are exactly where He wants us, that His timing is perfect, and that He indeed plans to use us for his glory in this place – especially in lives like that of Jorgito, and many more just like him.

New Back2Back Site in Cancun, by Julie Cooper, Back2Back Mexico Staff

June 24, 2010

This fall, Back2Back will be expanding, by opening a second site in Mexico, specifically in Cancun.  Staff will help in the fight against human rights violations against children and provide “care for today, hope for tomorrow” to orphans in need.  Below, Julie Cooper, who will be heading up this site with her husband, Matt, explains how the idea began:

My husband, Matt, with two siblings from San Jose Children's Home in Cancun, during a visit to the area in March.

I want to share with you a little bit of the story behind us going to Cancun. This won’t cover every angle but mostly that which involves us personally. In the fall of 2008, one of our SMCA (the school on campus) teachers held a fundraiser to help an organization that works in areas where human rights are being violated. I was interested to learn more about this organization so I visited their web site to see what kind of work they were involved in. I was struck by an article about the great need in Cancun and how poor and street children are at incredible risk there. It just kind of became a burden to me. I thought a lot about the kids and their needs and began to wonder if Back2Back could maybe someday be “back to back” with the work that was going on in this city.

Later in the fall of 2009, Back2Back decided that it was time to branch out and begin work in another Mexican city. By this time, I had shared with pretty much everyone what I had read about Cancun.  However, back in the US office while researching options, our team was unable to find even a word about Cancun on this organization’s web site. Apparently, they don’t even work there! Whatever it was that I read over a year ago, was clearly God’s way of bringing this area of Mexico to our attention. Many associate Cancun with beaches and hotels – not with the thousands of children in need. Some are living in children’s home but many, many more are at home unsupervised while mom is gone twelve hours a day trying to earn a living working in one of the hotels. Older kids often turn to the streets.  Below is first-hand insight into the situation in Cancun, as reported by Chris Hawley,  of Republic Mexico City Bureau:

Cancun is a place of brilliant turquoise waters and cool white sand, tropical breezes and icy margaritas, glittering hotels and immaculate streets. That’s the Cancun seen by some 4.6 million visitors a year, making this tiny island one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations, a major source of cash for Mexico and the model for new resorts from Tunisia to Thailand.

But there’s another Cancun just beyond Kilometer Zero, the place on Kukulcan Avenue where the vaunted Hotel Zone ends. And things are not so idyllic there. It’s a city of 500,000 struggling with the social ills of a frontier boomtown: crime and poverty, drugs and gangs, political unrest . . . It’s a place of gritty “superblocks” where hotel workers live in cinder-block houses, and of even poorer areas where squatters build shanties out of scrap wood and old advertising banners.

“If the tourists knew where we live, they’d understand what Cancun is really like,” said María Eternidad Jiménez Orinano, standing in the door of her scrap-metal home in the Tekach neighborhood.

Back2Back will work to meet the needs of the children in the area and offer opportunities for short-term mission teams to partner with us as we serve.

God has worked in His own time and I am encouraged by that as I think about the obstacles that still stand in our way. I’m going to write about it in my journal right now, so that next year I can look back again at our faithful God who supplies all of our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus and see how He was again faithful!

Provision through Donations, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria

May 25, 2010

As many of you know there was a large crisis that happened here in Jos in January and then again in March. In the wake of those two specific crisis, there is a hole of need for those who have been left behind.

Many, many children have been left with no earthly possessions, no clothing, some have no more families and some left with no homes. Not only children, but adults as well. A woman named Lydia came to my gate last week. She had lost her husband and her eldest son as well in the crisis in March. She was asking for work because she is now a widow with three other children, a ten, an eight and a five year old. She was not asking for a handout but she was asking for work. Not only work, but prayer. Before she left I told her I would keep my eyes open and we prayed together as I was under the realization that there are now three more orphans in the world, according to the United Nations definition of orphan, “a child who has lost one or more parents.” Our ministry had the privilege to join in with other ministries to donate to those left behind in this massive wake of destruction. The pictures above and to the left are some of the items that we were able to contribute to help this need. I really want to thank those of you who gave to the Christmas catalog, especially for mosquito nets. As you can see from the picture, we were able to buy them with that money and then hand them to help create some shelter for these specific children.

I am actually in awe as God, knowing all things, was able to prepare us as a ministry to be able to have much needed items to be able to give to those within our ministries reach.

Then, we found out late last week, that the house of a man on our SSE borehole team burned down. So, again, we were able to help this man “get back on his feet” by providing some basic provisions.

It does not look like much, but he was grateful and so were we, as we realized these donations were never ours, nor did we purchase them, we were just able to hand them to those in need. Thank you again to all of you who support us and the ministry in finances and prayer. It is not in vain and it is meeting many, many needs.

Please have a blessed day as you may come to realize as well how fortunate we all are and how much we have been given.

Heading to Haiti, by Todd Guckenberger, Back2Back Executive Director

March 19, 2010

When the earthquake happened in Haiti this past January, many of our Back2Back ministry supporters called and asked what we were planning on doing.  In the initial days as we prayed about how God might want us to mobilize and coordinate to respond to the need, we realized that Back2Back is not necessarily  a relief organization, but rather we are an organization about long-term development and the sustainability of the orphan.  This focus is one of our strengths.

However, statistics in Haiti are shocking: 90% housing loss in Port-au-Prince, 1 million homeless, a reported 380,000 orphans before the quake, over 2 million people have need for food, and as a result we have continued to pray about how God might use our strengths to help with the re-development  process in Haiti.   It also became clear to us that it makes no sense to “go it alone”.   Why would we not look to partner with an existing organization?  We feel that it makes sense to serve alongside a group who is already established in Haiti, standing back2back with to help them re- develop  (another one of our strengths).

Many times, I thought to myself, if a disaster were to hit Monterrey, Mexico  and mission organizations were pouring in starting new ministries that I would be asking the question, “We’ve been here 13 years, why not join us in what we are already doing?”.  That being said, I, along with Back2Back staff members, Brian Bertke and Chris Ramos, are taking an exploratory trip to Haiti April 5-9th.  We will be hosted by an established non-profit organization, Jesus in Haiti Ministries.  We are excited about how God might use the strengths of Back2Back to help in the rebuilding process.  Please pray that God leads us.

Chipping Away, by Back2Back India

December 30, 2009

Hyderabad is located in the Deccan Plateau region of India where there are ancient granite stones shaped into spectacular sometimes bizarre formations of rock, reminiscent of southwest United States like Arizona.

These are awesome and enormous rocks. Entire neighborhoods exist in these rocky areas. First the rocks must be cleared to allow construction of these homes and buildings. When out for my morning walks, I often see a group of laborers working on a job site. They chisel all the rocks by hand.

A huge sheet of granite is slowly and patiently split into smaller and smaller pieces until there is room for a foundation. Then the small square bricks of granite are used in building the walls of the home.  What a huge job for these workers and what terrible carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms they must have!

Many days, I feel like one of those workers. Back2Back is here to help provide for orphans in India. And this is an enormous task. There are over 1 billion people in India including 400 million children. India has more children than the entire US population and it is estimated that 9% of them are orphans which mean that there are about 35 million orphan children in this country. There are many ministries and organizations here trying to help these children. Some of these organizations focus on street children; some on abolishing child labor; others support education or vocational training for girls. With so many needs and so many children, sometimes it is difficult to know where to start. So, we take each day and each opportunity to chip away at this gigantic challenge.

Thank you for you prayers and support of the Back2Back India program. Together we can break the hard challenges into building blocks for the future of the needy children in India.

I Will Not Leave You as Orphans, by Benjamin Riggs, Back2Back Mission Trip Guest

August 3, 2009

The last night that I was in Monterrey, before communion Matt Massey shared some awesome insight to Jesus’ words at the Lord’s supper.  He spoke about how a bridegroom builds a house in order to have His bride to be in marriage.

“He is finishing a house to come get His bride,” Matt said.

Since then I’ve thought a lot about that and the scripture that was the backbone for discussion and theme for the week, the idea of Shelter, based on Psalm 91:1.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow the Almighty.”

What I took as a “typical” psalm at first has slowly been turning into part of the definition of my walk with the Lord. During the week, I was captivated by the fact that dwelling in the shelter of the Most High was a reality for the psalmist, as opposed to an idea. Secretly, while I gave my answers at our small group, I longed to understand that more.

Before arriving in Monterrey, I had been neck deep in college books and a society that sells me the lie that everything is about me. I hadn’t really seen how I had let it work its way into my walk with the Lord until then. In Monterrey, Jesus began a serious revival of heart from checking out Psalm 91:1 and being in the company of the staff, interns, volunteers, and children we served.

Part of the change in my heart was from seeing how He continues to sanctify and Father His children, just as He has promised. As much as He continues to change my heart to look more like His, I was made aware of the fact that this change involves more than just me. Since the experience of serving and loving in Monterrey, I have been more aware of how passionate Jesus is about the Body of Christ; He has given us the Spirit and He is indeed building a house (Ephesians 2:22). The more I saw what Jesus was doing in Monterrey, the more I saw the involvement of the Holy Spirit and it’s presence in the Body of Christ to serve and love those that He has and promises to continue to love.

During a ropes course exercise, we came face to face with the task of trying to put our entire group on a platform that was just big enough for me. One plan that we tried was putting the smaller people in the middle, while others linked arms around them.

Ben and his team during a ropes course exercise

Ben and his team during a ropes course exercise

With all this discussion of shelter, the image of the Body came to my heart. In the past when I’ve thought about the Body, the phrase being His hands and feet always came to mind. I’ve seen this past week that along with His hands and feet, Jesus is also changing us to have His heart (1 Corinthians 12:24-25) for the poor, sick, orphaned, imprisoned, and lost.

While on earth Jesus’ body was obviously the embodiment of the Most High that we seek shelter in.  Now we are being pieced together part-by-part into His body, to continue His presence, as He is the cornerstone of this structure (Ephesians 2:20) and the Head of this Body (Ephesians 4:15, Colossians 2:19). We are to provide shelter for others to dwell in as we dwell in Him. I experienced that reality being welcomed and loved by the staff, interns and others that I served alongside and now love. The last day I was there I fell in love with a little boy from Del Norte: Jose Daniel. There wasn’t a part of me that wanted to leave him, but I know that God has a plan for that little guy. As I was leaving him, I was reminded of Jesus’ promise in the book of John.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”(John14:18).

Since returning home from Monterrey, I know that I can continue to be an extension of His Body by reminding others that He has not left any of us as orphans. He is coming back for His children. He is coming back for His bride.

Benjamin and Jose

Benjamin and Jose