Posts Tagged ‘service’

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.

Advertisements

Neighborly Love, by Nate Gangwer, Back2Back Nigeria Intern

July 11, 2011

 

A few weeks ago we began our first project with another team.  We spent the entire day doing projects at the Oasis Community Center in the Kisayhip Village of Jos, Nigeria.  The majority of the team painted the community center with a primer coat to get ready for the Back2Back team next week.  The rest of the group split in two and some worked on clearing the roadside gutter to prevent flooding during the rains and the rest of the group moved a significant amount of gravel, rock, and sand for concrete mixing an building to the other side of the compound to make it easier for future deliveries and a more central location for work. In the midst of the pounding heat we were able to completely prime the building, move all but a handful of the big rocks, and dig out a majority of the roadside.  Feelings of accomplishment ran high as we finished out the day sitting on the porches watching a thunderstorm roll by.  These types of achievements not only help boost our moral, but really help to show the community the importance of taking care of facilities and thinking a few steps ahead of the current problem.

Nigerians are a wonderful people with a tremendous sense of community and perseverance, but have been trampled and pushed down by exploitation, which turns into a terrible foundation of traditions.  A large part of community development lays in finding pride not only in your neighbors and family, but also in the actual land and buildings.  Loving your neighbor does not always entail saving them from a horrible plight or devastating circumstance, but more frequently, and perhaps more importantly, loving your neighbor means literally doing the small things that you desire for yourself for them.  If I want my yard or my house to be clean then how I love my neighbor is also desiring (and acting upon) their yard or house to be clean.  The motivation moves from being self-centered to community centered and Biblically obedient.  By partnering together and serving those around us who are incapable, either by a lack of resources or a lack of know-how, we are not only serving them we are serving Christ and following the model of love He exhibited for us and commanded of us. Oh, how wonderful it is to worship in work and service!

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.

Standing Back2Back with Nationals, by Matt & Julie Cooper, Back2Back Cancun

May 27, 2011

Through a series of God-events, we have met a pastor by the name of Victor.

Pastor Victor

Pastor Victor has a small church in a neighborhood named Tres Reyes. Tres Reyes is the same neighborhood where we have been helping Noehmi’s family build a house.

Victor has a desire to reach the people Tres Reyes for Christ. He has a desire to see the Kingdome of God grow. He has a desire to begin to feed children in the neighborhood but he needs someone to stand in the gap with him.

We believe that God has led us to Pastor Victor for this season. God has opened a door – and once again we’re walking through it.

With the visiting missions teams we will have over the next couple of months we are going to be helping Pastor Victor with some projects on his church, and assisting him in outreach to the children and families that live in this extremely poor neighborhood. We look forward to working together as we feed the hungry, love the needy, and bring hope to the hopeless!

A Back2Back staff member surveys the property with Pastor Victor

Serving with Back2Back Nigeria, by Aaron Broomall, Mission Trip Guest

January 17, 2011

Our time with our new friends in Nigeria seemed to pass by so quickly, yet the effects of what we experienced and learned continue to work through each of us on a daily basis.  We got home about three weeks ago from what most of us would say was the best trip of our lives; a ten day opportunity to serve, love, and learn from what many people would consider “the least of these” along side the amazing staff of Back2Back Nigeria.  It is honestly hard to pick out singular impactful events because the week was so well planned out that each event or opportunity to serve held significance from playing with and holding beautiful orphans, to using our underwhelming construction skills to help build the new educational facility and a new orphanage to praying with widows.  Every day was full of amazing experiences and encounters with people just like us, working hard to provide for their families and putting their dependence, despite their extremely challenging circumstances, on a God who loves them very much.

It was a true honor and a privilege to be a part of Back2Back’s work in Jos.  It was entirely humbling to have the opportunity to serve and serve with such amazing people.  I’ve heard very often about individuals wanting to go places to share God with people, which is certainly a noble cause.  However, in my experience, the people of Nigeria did a lot more of sharing God with us, then we could have ever shared with them.  We simply opened ourselves up to be used in whatever way God saw fit and then waited anxiously to see what He would do.  And what He did was awe-inspiring.  We are so excited to continue to share the stories of what we’ve learned through our experiences with our friends and neighbors back here in Kentucky.  We are anxious to share the challenges that our friends in Nigeria face so that we can make a small difference there.  However, we are also excited to share what we’ve learned from their dramatic dependence on a loving Savior and how that kind of dependence can cause a deeper love for God in our lives here.  Thank you Back2Back for making this possible.  We are forever grateful.

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.

The Gift of Comfort, by Kathy Couch, Back2Back Mexico Staff

December 15, 2010

When I think of putting a child to bed, I think soft and cuddly thoughts. These thoughts consist of squishy pillows, soft blankets, soft kisses, generally anything soft.

Last summer, my daughter and I spent several weeks in Hyderabad, India serving at Back2Back’s India campus. When we visited a children’s home that Back2Back India serves, one of the first things the kids did was excitedly show us their rooms.  Their rooms consisted of beds, pushed together in one platform, made of plywood, set up off the ground.  When the mission trip group members saw this, they were moved to act.  They started asking if there was any way they could purchase mattresses for the children in this home.  A national that works with Back2Back got right on the task.

When we went back out to the same home for the second day, a load of small mattresses arrived.  The kids were ecstatic.  As the group members carried those little mattresses upstairs, the kids could hardly wait to see.  We laid the mattresses on the boards and the kids promptly started lying and jumping on them.  It was a joyous moment.

What a great way to see a need and meet a need! We walked away knowing that maybe this would be the first time that these kids associated sleep with softness.  It gave us all sweet dreams.

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.


Half of a Bologna Sandwich, by Brian Bertke, Back2Back US Staff

June 3, 2010

Since my first trip to Haiti in April, I have been thinking about a boy I met in the garbage dump.

This is the garbage dump community where we served.

A boy who lives in the dump, overlooking the community.

The organization that we are considering a partnership with, Jesus in Haiti, has a feeding program in the dump, and it is often the only meal that the children there will receive for the day.  The sad thing is, I don’t even remember this boy’s name.  However, he has had such a profound impact on my life, in terms of what I am willing to sacrifice so that I might be able to serve others at a higher level.

When we first pulled into the dump, we were surrounded by people who were pushing their way towards our truck, jockeying for position so that they could be first in line to receive a meal.  I must say that I can’t blame their urgency and their pushing and shoving.  If I knew that the only food that I would receive that day was in our truck, I too would be pushing my way up front to receive my meal.  When people are desperate to survive, they will resort to behavior that we might not otherwise condone.

When we got out of the truck, we waited to serve everyone their one bologna sandwich.   We wanted the crowd to calm down and we also wanted to have a chance to meet some of the children and adults that we would serve.  I ended up being with a group of young boys, judging from their size, they were probably seven to nine years old.  We started an impromptu game of “soccer” using a rusty can as a ball.  We weren’t really trying to score goals, but wanted to see who could keep control of the can the longest, seeing who had the better foot skill.  I was at a great disadvantage; these boys were quick and aggressive, attributes that come in handy when you live in a dump.

When we finished our game, it was time to serve lunch.  I felt bad for these boys, they were so thin, and some didn’t even have shoes as they walked on top of broken glass and rusty metal.  As I watched one of the boys that I had met that morning, he was different than some of the older boys at the dump.  He was still meek and kind.  The harsh life that he was subjected to day after day had not yet changed this boy’s heart.  I was truly impressed by him and his gentle nature.

Me with my friend

As he waited patiently for his sandwich, I felt a tremendous amount of compassion for him.  I went over and carefully handed him one of my breakfast bars, not wanting to draw attention from the older boys.  I didn’t want him to be put into any danger for having extra food; he quickly put the bar in his pocket as he gave me a quick hug and a smile.

When it was finally his turn to be served, I handed him his sandwich and that is when my life lesson happened.  My new friend immediately took his sandwich, his only meal of the day, and ripped it in half, offering me the other half.  I was stunned.  How could someone who has nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, be so willing to share the very food that he needs to survive?

As much as I appreciated his offer, I couldn’t deny him his food.  I gave my half back to him, letting him know how much I appreciated his offer.  As I stood there with him, watching him eat, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with his kind gesture.  Here I was, thinking that I was the one there to serve, and instead, he was serving me.  Not by offering me just food for my stomach, but also food for my soul.

I have thought of that young boy a hundred times since I have been home.  I feel God probing my heart, my mind, my willingness to share the possessions that I have.  Possessions that are really God’s that He has graciously given me, but somehow, I have laid claim to them as my own.  I can feel God asking me what I would have done if I was in that little boy’s situation.  Would I have ripped my sandwich in half?  Am I willing to sacrifice more and more of myself, my possessions, and my life for the sake of others?  Do I love God enough to let go of the possessions that I am clutching onto in this world, so that He can fill me up with those things that matter in His world…love, peace, kindness, forgiveness and gentleness?

As Back2Back is praying about Haiti and what role we may have in this desperate country, I have been thinking a lot about my new friend in the dump.  As God continues to expand our ministry into new areas of the world, I know that we can only do this, if we are willing to give more of ourselves.  When I ask God how we can possibly serve more and more of His children, He reminds me that it is up to me.  Am I willing to share my sandwich?

God’s Story of Redemption, by Beth Guckenberger, Back2Back Staff

March 3, 2010

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at Cincinnati’s Teen Challenge Ranch, where I shared about God’s promise to come after us and pursue a relationship with us, no matter who we are or what we have done.  At one point, I was so impressed by these promises, I lost my composure, and could sense the Spirit’s movement and comfort in the room.  Afterwards, I was deeply moved by the stories and comments I heard from the men and women who are spending the better part of a year there, dedicating themselves to the rebuilding of their lives and breaking their substance abuse addiction.  What courage they demonstrated to me!  I shared a meal with some of the staff after the chapel and we began dreaming about what it would be like for some of the graduates of the program to be able to come on a mission trip.  The obstacle we faced was how to finance such a dream!

Then, this Sunday I spoke at The Next Chapter Church in Southate, Kentucky. They take up, in addition to their regular tithes and offerings, a dollar offering, where they ask the members of their congregation to donate a dollar in a separate bucket to a local charity.  They asked me if I knew of some way they could donate to Back2Back in a way that would allow it to help here locally.  I immediately thought of Teen Challenge, and on that Sunday, we raised enough money to provide a mission trip scholarship for a Teen Challenge graduate to serve alongside us in Monterrey for a week!

I don’t know who it will be, but God does. He is writing a story for one of those men or women that includes a chapter ministering to orphans in Mexico.  I am so looking forward to meeting that person and seeing what that chapter stirs in their hearts.   He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and will easily sell a cow in Kentucky to send a redeemed heart in Cincinnati to minister to one of his children in Mexico.  What a God we serve!

Christmas in Galeana, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 11, 2010

On December 22, the kids of Casa Hogar Douglas had an opportunity to serve kids that had very little materially. One of the caregivers in the children’s home, is from a small mountain town about four hours from here, called Galeana. The people from this town are very poor when it comes to material possessions. When the kids of Casa Hogar Douglas, a children’s home that Back2Back serves, found out about these kids from the hometown of their caregiver, they wanted to share their blessings with them. They got a list of seventy-four kids from a church in Galeana and each one of them chose a toy of their own to wrap and give to the kids of this town.

Not all of the kids were able to make the four-hour trip to Galeana with us on December 22nd.  We took with us about fifteen kids and prepared a meal, worshiped together, had a pinata to open and passed out all of the gifts to the children.

 

Some of the children on a stop during our drive to Galeana

 

 

Enjoying a meal together with the families of Galeana

 

 

Worshiping with the families of Galeana

 

 

The children had fun playing with the pinata

 

 

Passing out gifts to the children

 

 

The children of Galeana were so blessed by the generosity of the kids at Casa Hogar Douglas. For many this gift was their only Christmas present.

 

I witnessed something that day in the faces of the kids from Casa Hogar Douglas. I’ve seen their faces on the receiving end many times, but it was a blessing to watch them as they had an opportunity to serve others in the same way that they have been served by American mission trip groups.

What are you thankful for? Reflections from a child at El Limon Children’s Home.

November 23, 2009

El Limon Children’s Home is five hours south of the Back2Back Mexico campus in Monterrey.  Since 2000, Back2Back has partnered with El Limon by helping to provide resources for the children, meeting their needs through service teams and ongoing care.  At a recent anniversary event to celebrate the faithful service of the directors of El Limon Children’s Home, several of the children from the home read letters to them, as a tribute to express their love and gratitude.  The common theme among the children’s letters was one of thankfulness for the way God had provided for them by placing Fernando and Yadira, the directors of the home, in their lives.  This heartwarming moment caused us to reflect on the things that we’re thankful for, but it also acted as a powerful reminder of the way in which God is faithfully caring for the children we serve.  In honor of Thanksgiving, we wanted to take a moment to share one particular child’s speech with you:

Real Parents, by Alejandra

A real mom and a real dad are not those who give you money to buy Sabritas (chips).  They are someone who give you advice when you have problems and help you when you are in need and if you are in trouble they will help you and pray for you because they are good parents.

Mom, Yadira, Dad Fernando and Mom, Nancy, are some of the best parents I’ve had in my life because God gave them to me and He has a plan for my life.  Thank God I’ve been set free and I´m happy.  So, thank you Lord for giving me such beautiful parents who know how to care for me and do not leave me in hard times and pay attention to me when I tell them I need to talk.  So, I want to tell them they are the best parents I’ve had in my life.

Thank you Lord for taking care of me and loving me so much.  Thank you mom and dad – I love you.

A student from Horizon Community Church plays with a child at El Limon

Some of the children from El Limon pose for a picture with students from Horizon Community Church

A few children at El Limon playing with Back2Back mission trip guests from North Cincinnati Community Church