Posts Tagged ‘staff’

Interested in an Internship with Back2Back?

September 16, 2011

Back2Back summer interns gain practical hands-on ministry experience by serving at our sites in Mexico, India and Nigeria.  Interns work alongside Back2Back staff members and assist behind-the-scenes to host summer mission trip groups.  Interns help to facilitate daily work projects at local orphanages and outreaches to impoverished communities, contributing to our mission of providing care for today and hope for tomorrow to orphans. The program includes discipleship and leadership training directed by Back2Back staff members.   Back2Back offers options in terms of length; selected candidates can request to intern for one-month or two-months.

All internship positions are unpaid.

The deadline for Mexico summer 2012 internship applications is October 21, 2011.  The deadline for Nigeria and India internship applications is October 7, 2011.

Interested? Email Chelsie Puterbaugh at chelsie@back2backministries.org to request an application for a Mexico internship.  Contact Chris Ramos at ramos@back2backministries.org to request an application for an India or Nigeria internship.
 
Hannah Cessler (far right), Back2Back India 2009 summer intern

Back2Back India summer intern ministers to local girls.

 
Back2Back 2009 intern spends time with a local girl in Nigeria

Back2Back Nigeria intern spends time with a local girl in Nigeria.

2009 Nigeria intern hanging out with a girl from the village near the Back2Back Nigeria base

A Nigeria intern spends time with a girl in the village near Back2Back Nigeria.

 
During a work project

Interns participate in crucial work projects at the children's homes we serve.

Spending time with the children

Interns make meaningful relationships with the children we serve.

One-on-one time with the children

Interns enjoy one-on-one time with the children we serve.

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You are Welcome!, by Theresa Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

September 24, 2010

New Back2Back Nigeria Staff Members, Will & Theresa Reed

As Will and I arrived to Nigeria last Friday (September 17th) we were full of emotions. Emotions that ranged from excited to terrified; overwhelmed to secure. All the things you would expect to be feeling after leaving everything you have known to move to such a different place. One thing that we knew would take a while to acquire was a sense of belonging.

On Monday, Emilee took us into the downtown area in Jos to register for our driver’s license. On this first visit into town, we were greeted with many bright smiles from the local Nigerians and a phrase that I continue to hear daily and stuck out to me,“You are welcome!” As we walked down the street, or passed the security guards at the bank, we were greeted with this phrase. People who don’t know anything about us (except for our obvious skin color) tell us we are welcome in their county.

This not only has made us feel more secure in being here, but also has given me something to “chew on”. How often would I go up to someone who is clearly foreign in the U.S. and, without knowing anything about them, tell them they are welcome in my country? I appreciate the joy this culture brings. In the midst of a busy week of getting used to living in a new country, it has been encouraging to know we are welcome in this place. I praise the Lord for directing us here and for his friendly children in Nigeria that are eager to welcome us.

Annual Strategic Planning Retreat, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

October 19, 2009

Recently, the US and Mexico staff gathered at our Mexico campus in Monterrey for our annual strategic planning retreat.  During the daytime sessions, we brainstormed how we might continue to grow and improve as an organization, while staying true to our mission to provide “care for today, hope for tomorrow” to orphans.  We also visited all our ministry sites, both children’s homes and communities such as the Rios and Cadereyta, and participated in team-building activities.

One evening, we attended a chapel service at one of the children’s homes we partner with, Casa Hogar Douglas.  Some of the girls from the children’s home performed a dance to “Lord I Lift Your Name on High.”  It was captured using the video feature on a camera that someone had on hand.  Check it out, along with some photos from the week, below.

Briefing before team building activities

Briefing before team building activities

Team building activity

Team building activity

The staff split into small groups for a series of team-building activities

The staff split into small groups for a series of team-building activities

Brian Bertke at Rio I

Brian Bertke at Rio I

Kristine Hall before a church service at Rio III

Kristine Hall with children from Rio III

Shooting video at Imperio de Amor

Shooting video at Imperio de Amor

A few staff members during a dinner out at El Pollo Loco

A few staff members during a dinner out at El Pollo Loco

Chris Ramos, spending time with the children at Del Norte Children's Home

Chris Ramos, spending time with the children at Del Norte Children's Home

Shooting video footage of Angel, one of our ministry partners at Cadereyta

Shooting video footage of Angel, one of our ministry partners at Cadereyta

A few members of the US staff at Cadereyta, one of the local communities where Back2Back serves

A few members of the US staff at Cadereyta, one of the communities that Back2Back serves

Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico staff, with Meme, a local ministry partner

Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico staff, with Meme, a local ministry partner

Back2Back US Staff

A few Back2Back staff members before heading back to Cincinnati

Well Worth the Investment, by Matt Cooper

August 17, 2009

An Afternoon with Edgar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait for the Story, by Beth Guckenberger

August 10, 2009

Last Saturday, when the final week of summer short-term groups arrived, someone handed me a bank envelope of $800 and said it was a gift to the ministry to be used however it was needed.

I immediately pressed, “Would you like this spent on a teen in our program? At one of the Rio squatters’ villages?  For a children’s home?  A medical need?”

The donor responded, “I know it was to be this amount and there are no strings attached.”

When I hear that, I know there is a story coming.  There are instantly a dozen ways I could spend $800 well.  Needs abound in our organization; it’s the nature of what we do and who we serve.  But, I decided to wait on the Lord on this one, so I put the money in our safe, and just prayed for wisdom on how to use it.  Days passed and on Wednesday, I prayed, “God, I know you don’t work this way, but how cool if the donor could see this week where their money was spent.  Just tell me what need you raised this money for.”

Silence.

Later that evening, I was talking to Meme, who serves here with us in one of the squatter’s villages.  She was an orphan as a child and last year became a widow.  She ministers to the families of her community with a grace and resolve that is widely admired.  I finish our conversation and walk away.

“Beth! Come quick!” she yelled.  I turned around to her and gasped.  Her front two teeth had fallen out completely.  She sat there, devastated.

I learn that evening that she hasn’t ever received regular dental care and it had been years since she had her teeth professionally cleaned.  The next morning, I took her to a local dentist office and told them to temporarily fix the problem and then to call me with the estimate of how much it would cost to fix them permanently.  I knew that we would have to raise those funds for her.  An hour later I got a call from the dentist, who reviews with me the lengthy process and multiple other outstanding dental needs.

I responded, “She is a giver of good news to highly unreceptive people.  She needs to be able to open her mouth and speak the truth to them.  Tell me the damages… how much will all of that cost?”

The dentist paused, knowing I would have sticker shock.  “Eight-hundred dollars,” he said.

“No problem. Get started,” I answered with a smile. “Our Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He sold some for her benefit last week…”

I knew the dentist didn’t understand my reference, but Meme sure did, as did the donor when we shared the story with him later that night. Respond to the prompting; pray when unsure; and then wait for the story.

Meme with her new teeth

Meme, after receiving dental care

What’s in a Name?, by Back2Back India Staff

August 7, 2009

Prior to my first mission trip to Back2Back Mexico, I asked my friend to teach me a few phrases in Spanish to make sure that I could communicate with the children at the children’s homes. One phrase that I worked really hard on was “Me llamo es . . . ” (or “My name is . . .”).

On our first children’s home visit, I immediately forgot how to say any of the Spanish phrases.  But it didn’t really matter. There are more universal forms of communication than spoken language – a smile that says “I’m happy to see you” or being grabbed by the hand and led to the swing set. I also discovered that the Spanish phrase I needed to know was “What is your name?”  I was reminded by God that it’s not about me.

Sometimes love expressed through action and care communicates more than could ever be said in a conversation

Love expressed through action communicates more than could ever be said in a conversation

Many of the children in India know and speak some common English phrases like “Hello. How are you?”, “What country are you from?”, and “What is your name?” In turn, we try to learn the children’s names. One of the orphanages served by B2B India has over 200 children.  That’s a lot of names to learn. And these are not names that we are accustomed to. Their names are Kalpana, Sujatha, Gayathri, Najaraju, Thirupathi and others that are foreign to our ear and our tongue. One of our mission trip guests just started assigning the boys names he could remember like John, Mike, and Joe. The kids thought that was very funny!

Each child wants you to remember their name and they quiz you later, asking “What is my name?” How delighted they are when you do remember their name and at least try to pronounce it! These are children who are often forgotten by society, abandoned by their own families, and living in the streets without food or clothing. A name may be the only thing they have. At the Christian children’s homes, they are taken in, given food, shelter, clothing and an education. They are taught that God knows them by name.

Now, when I ask them “Ne payru yemiti?” (Telugu, the native language, for “What is your name?”), I try very hard to remember that child’s name and I pray God’s blessing on him or her.

Please join me in praying for these children by name…..

Ashok, Karunakav, Mounika, Maheshwari, Swapna, Lavanya, Swethia, Madhuri, Rajasekhar, and Bhasker.

Ashok & Karunakav

Ashok & Karunakav

Mounika & Maheshwari

Mounika & Maheshwari

Rajasekhar & Bhasker

Rajasekhar & Bhasker

Swethia & Madhuri

Swethia & Madhuri

Swapna & Lavanya

Swapna & Lavanya

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

Interested in an Internship with Back2Back?

July 30, 2009

Back2Back summer interns gain practical hands-on ministry experience by serving at our sites in Monterrey, Mexico; Jos, Nigeria; or Hyderabad, India.  Interns work alongside Back2Back staff members and assist behind-the-scenes to host summer mission trip groups.  Interns help to facilitate daily work projects at local orphanages and outreaches to impoverished communities, contributing to our mission of providing care for today and hope for tomorrow to orphans. The program includes discipleship and leadership training directed by Back2Back staff members.   Back2Back offers options in terms of length; selected candidates can request to intern for one-month or two-months.

Intern applicants must have participated in a week-long mission trip at the ministry base where they wish to intern and possess a mature Christian faith. Interns are required to be 17 years or older and have completed their junior year of high school at the time of the internship.  Priority is given to applicants 18 years and older.  All internship positions are unpaid.

The deadline for Mexico summer 2010 internship applications is October 31, 2009.  The deadline for Nigeria and India internship applications is October 15, 2009.

Interested? Email Chelsie Puterbaugh at chelsie@back2backministries.org to request an application for a Mexico internship.  Contact Chris Ramos at ramos@back2backministries.org to request an application for an India or Nigeria internship.
Hannah Cessler (far right), Back2Back India 2009 summer intern

Hannah Cessler (far right), Back2Back India 2009 summer intern

A few of the July 2009 Mexico summer interns during an evening out

A few of the July 2009 Mexico summer interns during an evening out

Nigeria staff and interns (left to right): Angela Ramos (staff), Sara Dundon, Amanda Shrom, Corrie Guckenberger (staff), Stephanie Hasso, Tina Black

Nigeria staff with a few of the summer 2009 interns (left to right): Angela Ramos (staff), Sara Dundon, Amanda Shrom, Corrie Guckenberger (staff), Stephanie Hasso, Tina Black

Zach Nachazel with Abigail at a Nigerian children's home that Back2Back partners with

Zach Nachazel, 2009 Back2Back Nigeria intern, with Abigail at a Nigerian children's home

Back2Back 2009 intern spends time with a local girl in Nigeria

Back2Back 2009 intern, Stephanie Hasso, spends time with a local girl in Nigeria

2009 Nigeria intern hanging out with a girl from the village near the Back2Back Nigeria base

Sara Dundon, 2009 summer intern, holds Amina, a little girl at a children's home & school with which Back2Back Nigeria partners

Emily Greider, a summer 2009 intern, along with Tim Couch, Back2Back Mexico staff member

Emily Greider, a summer 2009 intern, along with Tim Couch, Back2Back Mexico staff member

Emilee (back row, center), a 2009 Back2Back Mexico intern, along with Becca Gantz (right)

Emilee (back row, center), a 2009 Back2Back Mexico intern, along with Becca Gantz (right)

Shawn, a summer 2009 intern, at a work project in Monterrey

Shawn, a summer 2009 intern, at a work project in Monterrey

Some of the June 2009 interns and B2B staff members enjoying a night out at Fede's Tacos

Some of the June 2009 interns and B2B staff members enjoying a night out at Fede's Tacos

Rita Haworth (left) & Emily Geib (right), two of our July 2009 interns

Rita Haworth (left) & Emily Geib (right), two of our July 2009 interns

Helping out during a concrete project

Helping out during a concrete project

During a work project

Shawn Gerber during a work project

Spending time with the children

Quin Bergh with a new friend

One-on-one time with the children

Adam Gellenbeck spending one-on-one time with a child

Shelter, by Angela Ramos

July 29, 2009

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will 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.”  Psalm 91: 1-2

Shelter is the theme of this year’s Back2Back devotional.  Every group member, along with staff, receive this five day devotional during their trip.  As staff in Nigeria, we are taking a deeper look into each daily devotional.  We are thinking about questions like: What do you think of when you hear the word shelter?  In what ways does God provide shelter?  How does God provide shelter to the less fortunate?

When I first think of shelter, I think of protection.  But after studying God’s word and being in the midst of the less fortunate, I have found a deeper meaning.  Yes, God is our protector, but if something bad happens that doesn’t mean that God has ceased to protect me.  When we walk in the ways of the Lord we are not promised to live a pain free life.  God’s shelter is always with us no matter our circumstances.  His shelter is a constant peace that no matter what happens, nothing can take away His love from us.

On day three of the Shelter devotional, it states that God’s shelter is a “state of mind”.  That really hit home with me.  In America we can have a lot of false shelters.  We rest easy in our spouses, cars, homes, finances, our grocery stores, clothing stores….basically our modern day conveniences. Sure, we know God is there, but do we really know this?  Do most of us rely on the things around us rather than God himself?  Is it easy to just assume that God’s shelter is with us because we have all of these conveniences?

In Africa we don’t have any of the American conveniences. Everything here is more difficult and time consuming.  Like I said before, the need here is so great.  How does a widow who lives in a tiny hut with five children and no electricity and running water see God as her shelter?  In their hearts they know God is with them and they trust the Lord to provide for them and to protect them.  They have nothing, yet they are content with God and what He has given them (which is not much by our standards).  God’s shelter is a state of mind.  He is constant no matter the circumstances.  He is constant no matter what one has or does not have.  He is the same God to me and to the poor orphaned child in Africa, and to you.  His love never fails and is unending.

To be honest, it is going to be hard to come back home to the modern day conveniences.  Chris and I really like the pace of Nigeria.  Being here makes you appreciate what you have all the more.  Even our boys have been able to see the differences; one is in the education they are receiving compared to what the children here receive.  We are trying to help teach them these truths about who God really is.  It’s not about what we have, even though we are thankful for EVERYTHING He has provided.  All we have is because of Him.  It’s about who we are in Christ and living our lives fully for Him.  Giving everything, holding nothing back.

Visiting local waterfalls near B2B Nigeria base   (Top: Chris &  Angela/Bottom L to R: Caleb, Micah & Noah)

Visiting local waterfalls near B2B Nigeria base (Top: Chris & Angela/Bottom L to R: Caleb, Micah & Noah)

Running the Race Together, by Matt Cooper

July 20, 2009

At the beginning of this year I decided that I wanted to take my running to a new level.  I’m still what most would call novice, but I decided that I wanted to run some local 10K races, that I wanted to run a half marathon, and that ultimately I wanted to run a full marathon before the end of 2009.  Perhaps even greater than my desire to run these races was my desire for others to run with me.  I’ve realized, that for people like me it’s really ultimately about bringing others alongside what I’m doing.  I don’t really like to do things alone.  Relationships and encouraging others are my heart, and they are the key motivator for why I do what I do.  So when it comes to “doing life” there are few things more energizing than being a part of a team.  When we learn to do life together the spiritual lessons and implications are endless – and let’s face it, most things in life are just more fun when you’re doing them with others.

So this Spring, I began to try to encourage the boys in my home, other students in our program, and others on our campus to join me in running a half marathon at the end of April.  In the beginning there was some scattered desire to run with me, but when April came many lost interest, or gave in to the fear of what seemed like a lofty goal of running 13.1 miles.  In the end I was only joined by fellow house parent Tim Couch, and by one of our college students from the Hope Program, Antonio.  It was an amazing experience for the three of us to face what seemed to be a “giant” and to conquer it.  I loved the chance the reach one of my personal goals, but at the same time I still felt unsatisfied that more from our Back2Back community had not joined us.

This summer I had the chance to be a part of a fantastic 10K that was put on here in Monterrey.  Not only did I run the race, but eleven others ran with me in what was the first official Team Back2Back!  This time Tim and I were joined by Mauricio from our staff team, two summer interns and seven young men from our Hope Program.

What we great victory we experienced together.   For me, my immense joy wasn’t so much from completing the race, but it was more so from running the race as part of a team.  There was an excitement that built as we took pictures, warmed up, and gathered at the starting line together.  There was an anticipation as we looked for one another along they way, and took the time to give a shout of encouragement.  There was a mental boost that came from being able to run portions of the race alongside someone that you consider to be like family.  In the end there was a great satisfaction in seeing each one cross the finish line, congratulate each other, and together celebrate “our victory”.

1st row: Ruben, Leo, Cesar, Antonio 2nd row: Oscar, Omar, Tim, Homero, Mauricio, Matt, Shawn, Abby

1st row: Ruben, Leo, Cesar, Antonio 2nd row: Oscar, Omar, Tim, Homero, Mauricio, Matt, Shawn, Abby

Mirrors, by Back2Back India Staff

July 17, 2009

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

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

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

Mirror Reflection

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

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

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

Face to Face

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

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

Crazy Love, by Claire Rogers

July 15, 2009

This summer the Back2Back staff is reading Crazy Love, by Francis Chan.  Chan urges readers to resist the temptation to be satisfied with the status quo and instead respond to God’s invitation into a passionate love relationship.  He challenges readers with a call to forsake complacency and apathy and follow God wholeheartedly.

Crazy Love

Here is an excerpt from Chan’s book that I found to be particularly impactful (pages 93-94):

“As Tim Zizziar said, “Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”  . . . God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward.  He measures our lives by how we love.  In our culture, even if a pastor doesn’t actually love people, he can still be considered successful as long as he is a gifted speaker, makes his congregation laugh, or prays for “all those poor, suffering people in the world” on Sunday.

But Paul writes that even if “I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2-3 ESV).  Wow.  Those are strong and unmistakable words.  According to God, we are here to love.  Not much else really matters.

So God assesses our lives based on how we love. But the word love is so overused and worn out.  What does God mean by love?  He tells us,

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends . . . faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

–   1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 ESV

But even those words have grown tired and overly familiar, haven’t they?  I was challenged to do a little exercise with these verses, one that was profoundly convicting.  Take the phrase Love is patient and substitute your name for the word love.  (For me, “Francis is patient . . . “) Do it for every phrase in the passage.  By the end, don’t you feel like a liar?  If I am meant to represent what love is, then I often fail to love people well.

Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side.  It is not a label we can display when it is useful.  It must be central to everything we do and are.”

As a staff, that is our challenge as we provide care to orphans.  Our call is to not just offer clothing and shelter to children in need.  Our mission is to meet the needs of the orphan, both spiritual and material, out of the overflow of Christ’s love in our hearts.  Love must be our motivation and at the core of everything we do.

God calls us to wholehearted faith characterized by love.  That is the mark of the Christian faith and our prayer and hope is that it permeates through every fiber of our ministry.  Our organization is rooted in Christ’s mandate to love sacrificially.  In 1 John 3:16-20, we see God’s compassion for the poor through the example of Christ’s love manifesting itself through His willingness to surrender everything, even his very life.

Crazy Love has encouraged us as a ministry, but it has also prompted me to examine my own heart for any areas of my life where I have become complacent.  Chan’s exercise was especially powerful. As I replaced the word love with my name, I was convicted of ways in which I haven’t allowed Christ’s generous love to reveal itself through my actions, often because of fear or complacency.  His kindness and merciful love should compel me to pursue a deeper relationship with Him and likewise love those around me radically, laying at His feet anything that is hindering me.

What attitudes or areas of your life might God be asking you to surrender to Him so that you might love more radically?  What is holding you back?

Reflections on a Weekend with Back2Back India, by Todd Kutzke

June 29, 2009

Todd Kutzke recently served at an Indian orphanage alongside the Back2Back India staff. He shared thoughts from the experience on his company blog, which I’ve reposted below.

Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to visit a few orphanages around Hyderabad. It’s an incredibly humbling experience. A little while back, I read a fantastic book titled “Three Cups of Tea” which really gets you thinking about the importance of education in fighting poverty. There is little secret to the fact that India has a large population in extreme poverty that can’t even get access to basic necessities such as clean drinking water. But beyond the basic necessities, I’m a firm believer that investment in education is needed to sustain a level of life above the poverty line.

On a personal level, I feel it’s important to capitalize on opportunity to give back to the community in any way possible. Not only is it humbling, but it helps reinforce how fortunate many of us are (especially in the first world countries) and what an incredible opportunity we have to give back to society. Even on a team level, I’ve looked to set at least one event a quarter where the team gets together to give back to the community through some volunteering activity; a great opportunity to give back and build morale at the same time. And when I see things like the Microsoft Unlimited Potential work, it makes me incredibly proud to be part of a larger organization with long term commitment to enhancing way of life for so many.

Here’s a video of some incredible kids from one of the orphanages with which Back2Back partners in India:
Video: Ghatkaser Kids

No Better Place to Be, by Christy McMurry

June 19, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

Hands Open

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.

Welcome from Todd & Beth Guckenberger!

June 1, 2009

Welcome to Back2Back Ministries Official Blog!  Staff from Mexico, Nigeria, India and the home office in the US will be sharing their thoughts on life, God, faith and orphan care.  We invite you to come alongside us in our journey and share your thoughts and comments!