Posts Tagged ‘Rio Three’

An Interview with Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 3, 2011

Starting this month, we will be featuring interviews with various Back2Back staff members, highlighting one to two individuals on the field each month.

Jim Betscher

How do you serve with Back2Back?

Jim: I serve as captain of both Casa Hogar Douglas and the ministry site of Rio 3. As a Back2Back captain, I am the liaison between Back2Back and the people/children we serve. About 70% of my time is spent “in the field” working alongside the caregivers in the children’s home or Olga in Rio 3, an impoverished community that Back2Back serves. Many times, it is not just working on projects, but it is time spent identifying and assisting in finding solutions to their needs. We try hard to build into the staff that work full-time in the areas we serve, so that they can function better. I can’t do that unless I can identify with what struggles they really experience in doing their job. The other 30% of my time is spent in my office planning projects for upcoming groups, communicating with supporters and doing other paperwork.

Why did you decide to begin serving with Back2Back?

Jim: Like many Christians, I had felt a calling to do more for God, for some time. I turned fifty, as a single dad of two adult children. I realized that I couldn’t spend the next twenty years like I had spent the last twenty, living my life through my kids. I was either going to be a frustrated, middle-aged man, who complained that he never saw his kids enough, or I needed to find something else to do with my life, that I was passionate about.

For many years, my daughter and I had served with Back2Back, on short-term mission trips. I had always felt satisfaction and purpose when we served the children’s homes of Monterrey. So, during this mid-life crisis in my life, I accepted an invitation to join the staff in Monterrey, with a one year STINT commitment. My background was in construction. Back2Back was busy building the new teen homes on their campus. I felt God was calling me to help with the construction and mentor teens that would be a part of the Hope Program. That is what I did through 2007. But, during that year, I met my wife, Betty, got married, picked up five more kids and began to serve as a team, with my new wife.

What part of your job are you most passionate about? Why?

Jim: I am most passionate about the fact that we are making a difference in so many kids’ lives. There are many problems here in Mexico. Over 50% of the population lives in poverty. The kids we serve are byproducts of that poverty. Many have been abandoned in children’s homes, by poor, undeucated parents that have no supportive community to help them care for their kids. When I consider the possibility that these kids can one day graduate college, and have a career in medicine, education, business or social work, I get excited. As I think of the difference these young people can be in their careers, because they know Jesus, I begin to believe we can change the world!

I feel very blessed to be an eyewitness to these changes. I realize that many times the things that I have an opportunity to be a part of are the result of many faithful people. Many people work hard, sacrificially supporting the work of Back2Back and don’t often get a chance to witness the fruit of their labor. I feel a responsibility to share the harvest of that fruit with ALL of those who have labored in the fields.

What is something that God has shown you or taught you over the past year through your experiences with Back2Back?

Jim: The thing that God has reminded me of lately is that He seldom works in nice and tidy ways. Many of the stories or events in the Bible, involved battles, sickness, suffering, violence and blood. Even God’s plan for my eternal salvation required His only son to suffer and die a cruel death on a cross. Why should I expect that the things of my life would be neat, painless and comfortable when there is no evidence of such things in His Word? Maybe it is something that the American Christian church of the 21st century has come to expect. And, maybe it isn’t Christian at all. Maybe it is why airline pilots, surgeons and millionaires have told me the most fulfilling days of their lives were spent pouring concrete here in Monterrey.

I was reminded of this, as I witnessed the work that God was doing in Rio 3 after Hurricane Alex. Over 100 families lost everything in the flood waters that were produced from the 40 inches of rain that fell in two days. As I walked through the emptiness of Rio 3, just hours after the flood waters receded, I felt the horror of complete devastation in these families’ lives. Everything had washed away! But as I have witnessed the work God has been able to do in this area in the weeks that followed, I have realized that God has used this tragedy to expand His Kingdom. Today, we are not heckled by men who believe what we are doing is foolish. Instead, we are warmly greeted by men who have experienced the love of Christ through our actions and not just our preaching. Church attendance has nearly doubled since we first started serving meals, providing shelter and rebuilding lives. God has been working in Rio 3. The work hasn’t always been as we have planned. Sometimes, He has used an event like a hurricane to prepare the way.

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Progress at Rio III, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

December 13, 2010

I wanted to update everyone on the progress that we have had at Rio 3. It has been four months since Hurricane Alex washed away over 100 homes and turned the church building that Back2Back supports into a 24-hour refuge for hundreds of people. With the help of many who gave towards our huricane relief fund, we have been able to put a roof on the new multi-purpose addition and pour a concrete floor. This will enable us to not only serve the community on a daily basis, but will also allow us to be better able to serve the people in the event of a future disaster. This building will eventually be a soup kitchen for the community!

I always like to point out that I believe the ministry that Olga runs from this church building is  a light in a dark world. Now they will be able to bring light to darkness in even a bigger way. We are excited about what God is doing in Rio 3. We also give thanks to God for the generous support that so many of you give. Together we are making a difference.

Hurricane Alex Update, by Beth Guckenberger, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 22, 2010

Thank you for your immediate response to our pressing repair and relief needs here in Monterrey, as a result of Hurricane Alex.  As a staff, we have been praying that we would be available in the aftermath of the storm to meet people’s emotional and physical needs.

Thank you for joining us as:
1. We have begun repairs to the Back2Back campus.  We are repairing both existing water damage (to the roads, dorms, walls, etc…), as well as reinforcing existing systems (water drainage, septic systems) so that in the event that we were to have a similar tragedy in the future, our systems would be better able to handle it.



2. We have been providing daily meals to families in Rio 3, an impoverished community that we serve. We have been coming alongside ministry partners in the area, such as Olga and her family, as they have been meeting the needs of the estimated 1,000 homeless individuals in the Rio. This has required both financial and human resources. The rebuilding will be continuing for a while, but with your help, we have been able to offer food, medicine, water and building supplies.

Families line up to receive a meal

A child from the Rio enjoying her lunch

3. In the other Rio communities that we serve (Cadereyta and Meme’s Rio), we have provided meals, clean water, cleaning crews, encouragement and help as they clean out their homes.  The jobs of many in the communities have been impacted by the rain (they collect or recycle garbage for example).  As a result, many have experienced weeks without employment. The staff has been attentive to those needs and grateful for your contributions.

Back2Back staff member, Jim Betscher, shows families in the Rio how to purify their water using Pur water filtration packets

A family receives a food package from Back2Back staff

Connecting with a woman from the Rio during the clothing giveaway

A woman receives a new outfit at a Back2Back clothing giveaway

Clean-up crews salvage damaged items from homes flooded during the hurricane

Hurricane clean-up crews help a family in the Rio pull their car out of the mud

4. Our children’s homes have all been visited by staff and summer groups and most of the clean-up is completed.  The majority of them experienced little physical damage, just water damage and the inconvenience of clean-up.  We have found ourselves continually grateful for God’s protection during the storm.

The hurricane and its effects are still talked about daily in the city.  You can’t drive anywhere without seeing the effect on roads and bridges.  We have been praying and are mindful of our responsibility to speak truth and use this experience to strengthen our own faith, our understanding of the Lord and our relationships with those we serve. Thank you for continually giving us the tools we need to reach out to the community.

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.

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.

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?

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?

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.