Posts Tagged ‘outreach’

Progress in Tres Reyes, by Anna Conrad, Back2Back Cancun, Mexico Staff

May 18, 2012

Tres Reyes (Three Kings) is a community in the Cancun, Mexico area that we always look for different ways to support and get to know the people that we serve. Every time we go to server there, God opens our eyes to the needs that we sometimes can take for granted.

We have hosted doctors and had free medical clinics for the community to be able to receive medical care and the medicine they needed home.

We are helping finish the construction of the second story at pastor Victor’s church for the community to have a shaded area  to gather and worship God as well as benches for them to sit.

One of the most resent projects that we have done at Tres Reyes that impacted the community in a great way was the Church Sale. This project was inspired by a little boy that came to one of our clinics. His shoes were ripping apart and he had a hard time walking. The roads in Tres Reyes are not paved and the dirt and rocks were hurting his feet. I looked around and many of the people that came to the clinic were in the same situation.

I thought to myself (Anna) “Next time we come to Tres Reyes we need to bring some shoes and clothes.” I didn’t want to only give hand outs, I wanted people to take exactly what they really needed, and that’s when my wonderful days of garage sale-ing came in handy.

So during the next week I gathered all the shoes and clothes and toys that I could find in the Back2Back donations room. I was so excited but at the same time very nervous because I didn’t know if anyone was going to come. But of course I should know by now with all my past experiences, that God was going to make everything work out according to His plan and that’s exactly what happened.

We got everything set up and the people started showing up. There was a point when it was hard to keep up with all the people but the Family Christian Stores mission team with their experience in retailing were life-savers. The prices were very affordable, between 5 and 15 pesos for everything from shoes to clothes, and the kids were able to take a free toy if their parents had purchased something.

Everyone looked happy and the best part was that they took pride in being able to purchase something themselves. All proceeds from the sale went to Pastor Victor’s church to allow them to offer emergency medical care to those in his congregation if they needed it.

 

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God’s Way is the Better Way, by Andrew & Anna Conrad, Back2Back Cancun, Mexico Staff

April 30, 2012

As humans, we learned to rely mostly on ourselves and our planning. During this time of training we are learning that no matter how much we plan, we have to remain open to throwing our ideas out the window for God’s plan.

A few weeks ago,  a group from Grand Rapids, Michigan was serving with our Back2Back Cancun staff and during this particular day, nothing was going the way that we had anticipated.

We were doing a concrete project that, according to our plan, wasn’t getting finished since we didn’t have enough man power. God’s better outcome: We finished in record time! No explanation, but with fewer people and less that were able to do the physical exertion, somehow we managed (through God’s miraculous help) to do it quicker than ever.

This was my first time translating for a medical clinic and I didn’t know what to expect. We went around the community   telling people to come over around noon. We didn’t find many people outside or at home and it seemed like the clinic was having a slow paced day. God’s better outcome: We saw 28 people. Most of them went home with the medicine that they needed to get better. I had a great time getting experience in the medical arena. The doctor was patient and kind with me and the people that we saw. The people of Tres Reyes benefited greatly from this medical service.

Usually when we visit this particular community called Tres Reyes (Three Kings), we finish the day of work with a prayer walk. God’s better idea: We finished praying for pastor Victor and his family (We partner with his church as a main contact in this community) and another family that helped us finish the project. It was a time of blessing and healing.

It is amazing to see God’s hands in and on everything we do. Every time He takes control, everything turns out perfect.

Kisayhip Youth Development, by Will Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

August 2, 2011

children from the Kisayhip Village outside Jos, Nigeria

Recently, I was approached by a small group of young men from the Kisayhip Village who told me they wanted to have a meeting with me. I asked them what it was about and they said it was about a group they had put together. We set a time and place and I left excited at the thought of what it might be about.

Last Monday, I was able to meet with this group and hear what they were thinking and what their group was all about. They said they created the group, “Kisayhip Youth Development”, to serve the community. They said James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” They said they wanted us (B2B) to work with them to create ideas and ways to serve the community. I left thinking, “They are getting it!”

The youth are beginning to catch a vision for their community that is bigger than themselves, one that requires they come together to pile ideas and resources to go into their community and serve. This is community development in its very beginning stages. They are starting to catch a vision as a community and start moving toward making it a reality together with Christ as the focus.

I told the young men we would be with them every step of the way. I told them as they start something we would come and stand with them in support. Whether that means physically doing work with them, providing part of a financial need, teaching or praying we will stand with them to serve their community.

Of all that I said this one thing made the biggest impact: people in the United States are praying for you and the work you are beginning. They found great joy in knowing they are not alone, that people whom they’ve never met care enough about them and their community to pray. Our time ended with a few on the interns who were present and myself gathering around the young men to pray for them and their community.

Please join me in praying for the Kisayhip Youth Development and its leaders Joe, Ayuba, Nehemiah, Gideon, Samuel and Marcos.

Hope Program Student Outreach, by Ruby Moyer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

June 6, 2011

A few weekends ago, a few staff members took the Hope Education Program students who live on our campus on a mission trip to an orphanage about 1 ½ hours away in the desert. We loaded up two Back2Back vehicles with food, luggage, work supplies, and teens to try a new adventure. None of the teens were sure what to expect but we wanted them to experience what our work teams experience when they come to Back2Back.

The teens took turns helping prepare meals and clean up and they all were very willing to help! The morning started with breakfast, quiet time, a small group time, and then prep to leave.

We headed out Saturday to the nearby pueblo (small town) to do a work/outreach project. The clinic needed repair and we painted, did electrical work, and repaired doors, etc. There were lots of children hanging around watching. We handed out lunches to these same children and ate together. After a day of work, our teen girls had prepared a kind of Bible School for the local children. They had a Bible story of David and Goliath and an art project, and games. I loved watched our teens faces as they played and helped the children. There were so many smiles everywhere!

Meanwhile, we also gave out sheets, towels and food to the women of the village.

The day ended with us circling around and praying for the people who had come out. I watched as our teens lay hands on the children and prayed over everyone and my heart was full of joy!

That evening in debriefing almost everyone of our group said they hadn’t been sure about this trip and didn’t really want to come, but their minds had been changed and they loved it!

Sunday we visited a local church and went back to hang out a little more with our new friends at the children’s home. I know I saw some tears as we pulled away to head back to Monterrey.

What an amazing opportunity for these teens who have mission groups coming to them and serving them, to go out and do the very same thing! God is moving in them and they are learning to serve Him. They are ready to go again!

Through the Hope Education Program, Back2Back offers students from children’s homes a way to continue their education when free public school ends at ninth grade. The students stay on the Back­2Back campus in homes with staff families (house parents), experiencing a healthy family life. Students are mentored, provided with an education, and encouraged to pursue their dreams so that they can become self-sustaining individuals. To learn more about contributing to Back2Back’s Hope Program, please contact our US office at 513-754-0300, ext 1707.

Serving those in Need, by Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 26, 2010

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. ” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Recently, Back2Back staff, Back2Back partners, Meme and Maru, and some people from Meme’s Rio took a prepared meal to serve families in Rio 3, another impoverished community that suffered greatly during the recent storms from Hurricane Alex. It was quite the experience seeing one women and one man prepare a meal for 300 and travel across the city to serve it to a community they knew nothing about.

God was good to us as he lead us there safely.  We served 150 people and even spoke to a few families, as we viewed the destruction.

Preparing meals for the community

Serving meals to the families in Rio III

At Rio III, viewing the destruction from Hurricane Alex

I asked one family what it was like when the rains came. I asked if they were scared. One ladies answer was quick and confident, “No, I wasn’t scared, when you have Christ in your heart, you don’t need to fear.”

The other women spoke how the church/soup kitchen there (supported by Back2Back) was holding regular services and serving three meals a day. Meme, Benny, China, Perla and Beto were exchanging experiences of how the river wasn’t always a friend to them as well.

As I listened I remembered  a passage from the Bible, 2 Corinthians 1. Paul talks about how God gives us comfort so we could comfort others with the comfort we ourselves experienced from Him. The day was long and full of images I don’t want to forget. But these ladies and one man returned to their home full of the Joy that comes with serving the Lord and sharing in His comfort.


A Rio Christmas, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico

December 21, 2009

Fifty rubber balls, eighteen yo-yos, twenty-six dolls, ten baby blankets, 400 tamales, and a partridge in a pear tree!!!  Last weekend, we hosted a Christmas party for the people in the Rio and I felt a little like the “true love” in the Twelve Days of Christmas! We were blessed with a generous donation to be able to bring Christmas to the children who live in the Rio community, an impoverished neighborhood that Back2Back serves.

Days before several of us staff when shopping to purchase gifts for the kids. Because new things are a rare treat for these kids, we really wanted to bless each and every person who came with something new for Christmas. I have never before bought three cart loads of rubber balls plus various other toys and games! Several of us staff spent days buying gifts, wrapping, organizing donations, prepping crafts, and cooking champorado (Mexican hot chocolate) for about 100 people in the Rio.

On Saturday we left bright and early loaded down with gifts, food, and extra hands to help out. We had our normal church service in the soup kitchen with worship and teaching. After the service we served the people hot tamales and champorado. Then the festivities began! On a typical Saturday we will have anywhere from eighteen to twenty-five kids. This day we had well over eighty kids and sixty adults!

We pulled the tables close together, called for attention, and shared the Christmas story. If any of you have ever worked with children, you know that lots of young kids together, excited for gifts and candy are not always the best listeners. As we began teaching, I prayed for focus. While gifts and piñatas are fun, the best part of Christmas is our Savior’s birth. We wanted this to be the focus of the celebration. I marveled at how quiet the soup kitchen became. All seventy pairs of eyes were focused on the speaker and the pictures she showed of the stable and the manger… these images not too far from the kids’ own dwellings. They were captivated by the story…. a little baby born into poverty, but with an eternal destiny. At the close of the lesson we shared with the kids the purpose of that baby born so long ago, and his love and purposes for each and every one of them… it was beautiful.

Then we decorated ornaments, ate candy canes, smashed two piñatas, and handed out gifts to each person. It was a great day, a great adventure, and a great time to show these people how much they are loved. While the fifty rubber balls, the eighteen yo-yos, and the 400 tamales brought many smiles, our prayer is that the real Gift of Jesus brought eternal joy to some hearts that day….that is what our True Love has truly given us.

Harvest Sunday, by Emilee Munafo, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

December 17, 2009

A few weeks ago the ECWA church (Evangelical Church of West Africa) in the Kisayhip Village celebrated the Harvest Season with a special Harvest Sunday celebration. It was the Sunday following our American Thanksgiving holiday. As I walked up to the church doors, I could see buckets, sacks and trays that were full of grains lined up against the building. Each portion of grain represented a family’s hard season of planting, cultivating, protecting, watering, and harvesting. For many of them it is their way of living. Without this harvest they wouldn’t be able to provide for their family. I felt like I was back in Biblical times. Maybe I am too much of a city girl, but in our church we usually only bring forward our monetary gifts, and even then when we bring them, we bring them to a box, near the back wall at our own convenience.

In the Nigerian church, I have always noticed that the time for offering, whether with naira or with crops, is a time of worship. There is music playing, singing, dancing, even a little bit of shouting. It always makes me ask myself, am I giving my offerings to the Lord as an act of worship, or do I just do it out of obedience? It also made me think of what things I would be willing to bring as an offering, if I wasn’t told to bring money but something that represented my hard labor. Maybe my time, my home, or my desires for my family would be on that list. What about you?  What would you bring as an offering? I’ve been sorting out what God is teaching me through my Harvest Sunday experience – it’s been a few weeks and I am still thinking about it!

The slideshow below shows an outreach that we did after church on Harvest Sunday. Only the pastor knew what we had planned. We enjoyed passing out bags of goodies that included lotion, sugar for Christmas baking, spices, and noodle packets to those who faithfully come to church on Sunday.

the One, by Kathy Couch

August 12, 2009

I am sitting here waiting for midnight to roll around so that our boys come in.  On one hand I am tired and want to go to bed, on the other….. it is finally quiet.  After eight weeks at an aerobic pace, there are no visitors on our campus, only the 100 of us that live here year-round!  There are no screaming voices outside my window.  There are no more requests from our boys to stay out past curfew ‘just one more time’ so that they can spend time with the American mission trip guests.  Man, I already miss it!

We wrapped up summer with a worship service and baptized one of our very own youth in the swimming pool.  She was the 10th person to be baptized this summer.  It was one of those super sweet moments that you wish you could wrap up so that you could open it up and experience it again and again.  Something powerful happens when a group of people are all going the same way, with the same goals in mind.  You can feel the power, the passion, the presence of the One who is pushing everyone in the same direction.

We felt that moment powerfully one day when we were serving out in the Rio III, a squatters’ village that Back2Back serves.  It is about the driest, dustiest, smelliest place that I’ve encountered.  It is a neighborhood built on a trash dump.  The people there are poor in wealth, but rich in spirit.

View while walking through Rio III

View while mission trip guests walk through Rio III - © DSL Images

While serving the community, one of our group members that felt the One pushing, so at His prompting, she grabbed a bucket of water and rag and began washing women’s feet.  These women are poor.  Several have been abandoned themselves by men or family.  And here was this American, washing, massaging and drying their feet.  What a picture of what I want my heart to look like.  I want to be a washer.  I want to see the dry, dirty, lowly, and I want to wash them in the name of Jesus.  I want to crawl around on the concrete floor washing feet until my knees are bloody so that I don’t leave anyone out.  I want to forget me.

A woman from Rio III has her feet washed

A woman from Rio III has her feet washed - © DSL Images

The only way I know to do this is to stay connected.  Connected to the One, the only One that can move our hearts and souls to strive for holiness.  To want to be more than we are,  but in a way that makes us less.  Less of us.  Less of our wants and desires and more of the desires of the people that surround us.  Those who feel unlovely or hardened.  I want to wash them.  I want to massage their dirty feet because I finally understand how valuable they are.  More of them, less of me.  God only you can move me in that direction.

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

A Change, by Caroline Burns

July 8, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lost Sheep, by Beth Guckenberger

July 3, 2009

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

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

Sharing with the Students at SOS - © Photos by CRT

Sharing with the Students at SOS - © Photos by CRT

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

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

Praying for Students - © Photos by CRT

Praying for Students - © Photos by CRT

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

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

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?

Rio III, by Cathy Huffer

June 15, 2009

Back2Back partners with a church in Monterrey that serves an extremely impoverished area called Rio III.  The community was built on top of an old garbage dump.   Families construct shelter by piecing together scraps and pieces of wood from the landfill.  Most families live on a few dollars a day; their sole source of income is from collecting the trash surrounding their homes and recycling it.  We work with these families, mostly single moms, because they are literally at the cusp of making the difficult decision of whether or not they will choose to place their child in one of the children’s homes.  Our goal is to help them to provide for their children’s basic needs, preventing them from reaching the point where they need to drop off their children at one of the homes.

This week a group from Back2Back Ministries visited Rio III.  We provided food and clothing for about 200 children and 100 women and allowed the woman to pick out a new outfit, thanks to a generous donation of clothing from CAbi.  Many of these women are single mothers who have multiple children and work long days.  The women who are married often have husbands that are gone all day working.  They are so focused on providing for their family that they have very little time or resources to devote to themselves.  It’s evident from the looks on the womens’ faces as they wear their new clothes that they have a renewed sense of confidence.

“Thank you CAbi for this big blessing,” one woman said smiling at the camera as she did a model-like runway turn.

Back2Back Ministries, along with the families of Monterrey, have been so blessed by this outreach.  The video below is a visual thank you from some of the recipients of CAbi’s generosity.