Keep it up Bro

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I saw him at Casa Hogar Douglas (One of the Children’s Homes we serve) every time I went. And every time I was there he wanted to play soccer. He would always play with crocs on and still  be the best one out on the soccer court. It honestly looked like he was not even trying, it looked like he did not care that much. I knew we had been trying to get Mario into the Hope Program for some years, but due to an unknown reason he would not come.  Finally in August of 2016 Mario entered our Hope Program and enrolled in high school.

Things have not been all peachy for him being in the program, but he is trying. He is pushing to finishing his High School degree. Along with his house parents, I have been trying to pour into Mario through our soccer team and during the week. About two months ago I felt this push to start discipling and mentoring him. Mario wants to be a leader and especially wants to be a captain on our Hope Program soccer team, Los Dos. He asks me a lot if he is ready and I always tell him, “Leaders do not ask to lead, they are made leaders.”

Recently I asked him if he wanted to be a leader of about five to six 12-15 year old boys at our annual One21 retreat. He was ecstatic and this time he asked me if he was ready. I told him I believed in him and that it is time. I think he just needed a little push, because he far exceeded expectations.

 

After the retreat we recognized him in front of his peers to continue to encourage him onward. He has a great heart and he truly cares about others. Our children love being around him and in general he is friends with everyone. Today I am going to meet for lunch with him. We normally chat about life, what hard things are going on his life, and what kinds of things God wants him to focus on in becoming a man of integrity and character. I am excited to see how this will play out.

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Nigeria 2017

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In October of 2017 I  was able to take a trip to Back2Back’s Jos, Nigeria site. The trip was meant to love on staff, train them on how to host a mission team, build staff culture, and to help where needed.

We arrived to Nigeria after almost 3 days of travel. It was very obvious from the start what kind of people our Nigerian staff are: kind, loving, thoughtful, servant minded, honorable, and lovers of Jesus. Immediately, they genuinely made our small group of 3 people feel like the most distinguished guests they have ever had (I am sure this is done with everyone).

The first day I led a half- day retreat with the Back2Back staff. This retreat encompassed the dynamics of hosting international guests, the cultural differences/comparisons between Americans/Nigerians, and building staff unity & culture. We had so much fun playing games, talking and eating together.

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Our brothers & sisters fed us well and oh how we loved all the food we ate. We went on two really cool staff hikes where we were able to connect and have some fun with the staff. We then took a walk through one of the villages B2B helps support. Through B2B, there are many residents in this village who are able to send their children to B2B’s community center. At this community center the children are fed two wholesome meals a day and tutored in their school work. It was an eye opening experience to see the drastic poverty compared to even the places we serve in Mexico. These two girls, pictured below, walked with us probably for three hours. After a little while Pablo and I finally picked them up and brought them along with us, feeding them granola bars along the way.

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The girl I was carrying held her granola bar for an hour (if you look closely you can see it in her hand behind my back) while I held her until we came to a specific hut. Here she got down and walked over to two little children. She then broke the bar in pieces and shared it with them. I was in awe. Here this 6 year old girl is having to look after other children/relatives because of not only the poverty, but loss of family members. I knew she was so hungry and they told us those two little girls will walk for miles to go to the community center for food at 4 & 6 years old. Because of war, drugs, and poverty 50% of the Nigerian population are under 18 years of age. They have generations of children without parents, especially without fathers. Our hearts just broke for these kiddos and we are so proud of what B2B are doing in Jos, Nigeria. We left knowing that these sweet children are in great hands.

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Our next endeavor was playing against the Hope Program boys soccer team. Man, these boys can run for days. We lost 2-1 and we were wrecked after the game. But, in the aftermath and lack of oxygen, we came together. I was able to share a little of my testimony and to encourage them that no matter what they win or strive for,  none of it matters without Jesus. I told them what truly matters are the people standing behind them when they stand in front of the Son of God one day. We all came together and prayed. It was such a great experience to play, share, and pray together. Also, it was great to be able to share our Monterrey “Los Dos” green soccer jerseys with the staff men.

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The next day we spent time at one of the Hope Program houses and two of the Children’s Homes B2B partners with there. It was honestly crazy when the kids came home, because there were around 50 kids and they all came running to us. They wanted help on their homework and as I sat there and spent a couple hours helping with different kids’ homework at once I was able to empathize with all the caregivers and tutors we see on a daily basis. it was hard work, but I loved it. One of the boys cuddled right up next to me as he called me “Uncle” asking me questions. I felt so blessed to pour some of my Papa God’s love into this boy. Being a kid without a dad I can empathize with what these young boys need. And for the time I had with him I wanted to make sure he knew he is one of the most important boys in the whole world.

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As I close out this blog post on my unforgettable trip to Nigeria I wanted to share two final things. I loved that we were able to cook, as best we could, a Mexican style dinner for the tutors and caregivers B2B employs at one of the children’s homes. This was our way of saying thank you and loving on them. We loved this experience as we were able to go deeper in relationship with some amazing people. Lastly, at this dinner we wore our handmade and tailored Nigerian suits. At the beginning of the week we went and a man took our measurements and on the last day we received such beautiful garments.

One of the Nigerians (Plangkaat) left named me in his native tribal tongue, “Nan Fwang”. This means, “The Lord is our Savior.” Amen to that brother.

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Just Wow

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“Practice did not go so well,” Jacob tells me. I was not able to go to practice because of mission group obligations. I had heard that Mario, one of our best players had a very bad attitude and did not treat people well. This then rubbed off on other people and people were complaining and blaming each other.

Jacob and I talked about speaking with him before the next game. This soccer team for the young men we serve is built to build men of valor and integrity. Yes the team wants to win our games, but we reinforce that it is more about using soccer and its experiences as a vehicle to drive home life/biblical lessons. This was a perfect opportunity for Mario to show a contrite heart, humility, and a dependence on his brothers/team to help him.

As we were warming up I ran next to Mario and asked him how training went and he said, “Just fine.”

I laughed and said, “That is not what I heard.”

Mario said, “Well, I was upset.”

I said, “That is fine bro, we have hard days. But, you know what we do when we act poorly and make mistakes. We ask for forgiveness and give our apologies.”

Mario became a little flustered and started giving excuses for his attitude as well as blaming others who may have been involved. I stopped him and said, “But, did you have a bad attitude and treat your team poorly? Lets not talk about anyone else. We need to talk.”

Mario gasped, “Yes…okay how about next week?”

“Tonight” I said

“Tomorrow” he said

I said, “Tonight Mario, before we play.”

He signed again and said, “Okay.”

As we spoke before the game and I finished giving our pre-game talk I stopped and invited Mario to speak. Mario said he was good and he did not want to say anything. Just then Camilo spoke up. Camilo has been in this situation with our team many times so he knew the drill, “You gonna say sorry?”

The guys laughed because it came from Camilo. I let it be and we started playing. Right before we started the game I walked up to Mario, put my hand on his shoulders and asked him, “Can I trust your word when you give it to me?”

Mario said, “Jed can I do it next week?”

I said, “Tonight after the game, bro. I need to know when you tell me you’re going to do something you go and do it.”

Mario said, “Yes you can trust me. Okay I will.”

We played, had fun, scored goals and after the game we gathered again. We spoke and as we came to the end I introduced Mario to speak. He made a joke but then he went on, “No but seriously guys, how I acted at practice was not good, I was frustrated and I acted out, and for that I am saying sorry.”

Just then the guys started clapping. I was astonished as everyone celebrated his humility in apologizing. Rewind 2 years ago, guys would get in fights with each other, blame each other, play for themselves, and now they feel safe to apologize without anyone laughing at them. But even more, they feel celebrated when they do the right thing and show characteristics of a man of integrity. I reiterated after the moment that this is what our team stands for. I told them how proud we are of them, especially in that we have a team culture that celebrates true manhood, humbleness, honesty, and forgiveness.

The other coaches and I were so amazed and thankful that God would show us this fruit from our labors. That these young men chose, without direction from the coaches, and are still choosing to be a different kind of team and to be a different kind of man. A man that changes their family legacies and fights for true integrity and character.

And with this family and God driven culture in the last 2 years we have multiplied around 2 fold. Check out the difference of the quantity of people in this picture from February of 2016 to December 2017 at the same taco place. Went from 16 to 28 people. Glory to God.

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That Was Amazing & Overwhelming

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This past year in 2017 I was tasked to lead the effort of coordinating our youth retreat in collaboration with a ministry branch of Back2Back called One21.

This retreat is meant for our Hope Program students (young men & women Back2Back puts through high school & college), staff children, and kids 12+ who live in the Children’s Homes we partner with.

We go up into the mountains, spend the weekend in cabins, have a theme that directs the conversations and games, and experience life and fun things together. Well, we needed to save money this year in a big way so we changed locations. This location change made for a way more rustic living situation, but it also provided us one extra night in the cabins and it was closer to our campus.

The lead up to the retreat was packed with days and days of preparation. But, after it all we felt prepared and ready for the retreat to start. This years theme was The Elephant In the Room. Basically, we focused on those things that we know are all there and that we all struggle with, but no one wants to bring them up or go deal with them. We wanted to talk about all those hard things this year. We knew we would be going into the enemy’s territory in a big way and we experienced some pretty heavy things before the retreat that showed us the enemy did not want us to put on this retreat.

We made it though to the retreat and everyone started pouring in. This year we wanted to focus on our leaders having tribes and them being vulnerable with the kids in their tribe. Each leader was over 18 and had been in our Hope Program or are currently still with us. They led a tribe of 4-6 kids, 12+, with an adult accompanying, through games, creating a tribal name, flag, war cry, and ultimately through 3-4 debriefing sessions. The debriefs we thought would be a great opportunity for our leaders to show vulnerability, but yet give each of these children hope for a future as the leaders had been in their shoes for a time in their lives.

This retreat would ultimately bring help each kid realize that we all have an elephant in our lives and God wants to get this elephant out so that He can fill our rooms with more of Himself. The most impactful moments of the weekend were when kids interacted with the giant elephant our staff member, Dustin, made. They wrote their own “elephants” on it, “Porn, shame, hating oneself, pride, not being good enough, etc…” Seeing these kids calling out these elephants was so powerful. We worshiped hard that night, jumping around, crying, and praying with one another.

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The next morning we brought them up on top of the mountain and got to shoot the elephant with a paintball gun. The final product of every person shooting this elephant with all the lies that the enemy entangles them in was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. A black elephant now covered with what would seem to Jesus’ blood. We just felt the sense of relief, reckless abandon, and ultimately weights being lifted off of already weighed down shoulders.

We then ended this great time with 3 extraordinary baptisms next to this paint covered elephant. To say I was happy was not doing it justice. I was thankful for how God used all of us to pour some sweet love into the hearts of all of these children and leaders. God reminded me that no matter what things I forgot, missed, lacked delegation skills, and how tired I was would never get in the way of what He wanted to do.

During this same weekend we had a couple fights, caught kids with drugs, broke up arguments, and sustained minor injuries. But no matter what the enemy wanted to do, God broke through in a big way.

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Listen Carefully

Man, it was hot outside. Daniel the Director of Casa Hogar (Children’s Home) Bethany walks over. I love Daniel so much. He is a visionary, loves the Lord, and is a great story teller. As we start talking, he thinks of a story he wants to tell us as we are digging in the dirt. I stop and realize I am the only one able to translate, so I stop and listen.

Daniel goes on to tell such a sweet story,

” Listen carefully, (everyone stops), the other day I was driving. My car sounded so awful and I was in downtown Monterrey. I decided to find a mechanic on the side of the road. These men waved me into the shop. All I wanted was for them to figure out what was wrong and how much it would cost. I mean, I am a Children’s Home director, I definitely do not make that much money at all. As I pull up and get out of the car and start to explain to one of the men about my vehicle, some other men come rushing in and just start looking at my car and checking it. I tell him that all I want done is for them to see what was wrong. That I wanted to know the price beforehand. This man kept on saying it is all good and we will talk about it after it is fixed.

I was becoming more agitated as they were taking apart my motor and messing around. I told this man again in a louder voice that I want them to stop and I want to know how much it will cost. He continued to try and tell me everything was alright and we will take care of it after. The men were working so fast and before I  knew it they were done. They said it is all fixed and ready to go. I was so aggravated that they violated my privacy and would not listen to me, they messed with my car, and would not listen to me. I said, ‘ okay, how much will that be.’ They came back to me and said, ‘$40,000 pesos’ ($2,300 USD). I almost passed out as that is an absurd amount of money. I knew that what they did was not that expensive.

Three other men walked up behind this man as they pressed me for the money. I told them I do not have that kind of money. They said they would drive with me in my vehicle to the ATM right now. I said, I could not pull that much money out of the ATM. As they were getting more agitated with me, I realized I was in a bad spot. They were stealing from me and trying to intimidate me. I had no choice to drive with them back to the Children’s Home where we had some money to pay them. The one man got into my car and three other men drove behind us. It was a solid 1.5 hour drive. As I was driving in my car I was so mad I wanted to punch this man next to me, but I knew what happened after the punch would not have gone to well.

All I could think about was that these men are criminals….and then the man next to me starts to talk to me. He said, ‘So, you’re a Children’s Home Director?’….The nerve this man had to talk to me. I was not going to speak to him, I said, ‘I am’ with a lot of frustration. This man then says, ‘So you’re a Christian?’ and oh how this question hit me to the core. I felt like I was justified in having this righteous anger, but yet still felt convicted with this question. “Why do you ask?”

This man then tells me about how the woman he is with is about to have another baby and he just got out of jail. That his life is a mess and needs direction and answers. He then asks me, as I am still fuming inside, “Do you have anything to say?”

DO I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY? Oh do I, oh I do….then the Lord hit me with a thought. ‘Listen Carefully’… Is what you’re about to pay really a big price?

“Ummmm yes, Lord, it is a huge price.” I think.

“But, is it really? Do you have cancer? Are you in jail? Do you still have your wife and kids?

Is it a big price?”

Then it hit me what He was encouraging me to see. God sends out his children and uses those who have cancer, or who are in jail, or who have lost their whole family in order to show others how much He loves them. He asks us, allows us, or uses our decisions to place us in very very hard places in order to be with hard people, so that we may share of His great Papa God love to them.

I then realized that $40,000 pesos was not that big of price. God was using an awful situation to set up a divine moment so I could share the love of Christ with this man. This may be his one last chance. That I was placed there to speak with this man, to share Christ’s love to him, and ultimately to show that God is in control.

I went on to tell this man about Jesus and Who He is. I definitely was not as loving as I hoped it would have been, but God taught me a big lesson that day.

To “Listen carefully,” our circumstances and time with people are special no matter if it feels awful, God wants to use it for good. Rather than look at my problem, I look at what perspective God wants me to have in that moment. Because in reality, no matter how hard my life is and where He leads me, the Gospel does not change, and I am there to share Christ’s love with them.”

As I am translating this story, I am trying to hold back tears, because it was such a powerful story he was telling. I saw as these young men were being impacted by these deep words of wisdom and I felt so thankful. I felt blessed to be able to be a part of that moment and most importantly to learn that sweet piece of wisdom.

So…”Listen Carefully”.

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Feeling Thankful (How our US staff are so important)

Fridays. These days are often very heavy for me as I welcome and orient groups to our site in Monterrey, Mexico. It is a day that starts at 8am and will go at least until 8pm or later. As we gather at our morning meeting to prepare and pray for the day, I sit and just feel overwhelmed with thankfulness.

My thankfulness is for the people who work for Back2Back who live in the US. Although it may seem we have a very hard job  in the mission field outside the US, their job is just as hard or harder at times. Here are some things that others do not know about our amazing staff in the US:

  1. It is hard to raise support (bring in people to give tax deductible donations to B2B for the salary you will receive) in the US. They are not in the “mission field” some would say. The stories that they may provide sometimes are not stories they were directly connected with on a day to day basis. These are  stories people love to hear about when you’re raising support or gathering ministry partners.
  2. They do a lot of necessary, vital, administrative work that goes unnoticed to most people.
  3. They constantly see friends and family members getting high paying jobs all around them and yet they continue to live out the “call” God has given them. They walk out this “call” on their life all the while receiving a fair, but meager salary.
  4. B2B loves to go deep and with our missionaries on the ground serving it can be very hard to plan for the future, create large budgets, push the ball forward, and continue to go deeper in every country we are in. B2B believes that God can change  childcare in a whole country and we are not only going deep with each child, but with the governments as well. All this planning starts, is followed up on, and supported through our US staff and Board.

Here is how we are supported by  our US office staff:

  1. All the details, flights, preparation for the missions trips, and communication is all done through our US staff. So there is no need for our site missionaries to be burdened by administrative work.
  2. Groups are prepped for what to expect and any necessities that are needed go through the US site filter first. This mentally prepares missions guests before they arrive.
  3. Any donations coming from groups or donors go through our great US based staff to help guide these people to the actual “needs” of our sites/B2B. This allows us to move forward, to be more methodical, and to go deep rather than always doing sporadic projects that donors are excited about.
  4. In raising money for a specific project in Monterrey, we have staff in the US speaking with people to get this done and they spend countless hours raising money for a specific need.
  5. All marketing, devotionals, new approaches, and new skills all come from our US site. We do not have to concern ourselves that much with all this as they are continuing to fill us up and prepare us in better ways.
  6. They handle staff care, we have our US staff checking in on us. They provide counseling and friendship for us. They make sure we are not falling apart and burning out, and speak truth, love, and peace into our lives.
  7. They provide much needed follow up for missions guests. When missions guests and churches leave, our staff help them to continue talking about the things they learned as well as creating deeper partnerships so our children can benefit from continuity through relationships and resources.
  8. Our US staff feel like extended family and will bring down gifts, little treats, mail, and things we are just missing from the US.
  9. Our US staff come down fairly often to live and serve alongside us. When they do, they lift so many burdens and loads.
  10. From the top down our staff approaches everything we do from the mindset that we need to do it excellently because we represent the Gospel.
  11. Lastly, from the top down the continual theme is: we will never dumb down that Jesus is everything, and without Jesus in everything, and being everything, we would not be able to do anything. The Gospel is central to who we are and what we do. I love knowing that we will never be scolded or told to silence the Gospel for whatever reason or whoever the donor/person is, but yet are encouraged to share it through truth and love to the fullest.

As you can see, I was thankful for a lot that day and wanted to be sure you all knew about it. I am blessed to be able to be with a ministry that cares so deeply about staff support, going deeper, being great stewards of God’s resources, sharing the Gospel, and being excellent in everything. Although it can be exhausting and lonely in the “mission field”, my brothers and sisters in Christ are a huge blessing in the US in their “mission field.”

Hats off to our fellow missionaries living in the States. You do not need to be living in a third world country to be a missionary. We are so thankful for you.

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Huh, they are listening

You know as a parent, youth pastor, boss, teacher, etc… you always wonder if the kids you are speaking to are listening. We can put so much hard work into pouring into these kids, but it can be hard to see if the effort is paying off in the moment.

A big part of what I do down here in MTY is pour into our 15-23 year old Hope Program students. The Hope Program students are the children we put through High School and College. The biggest activity I have with them is with our soccer team. With the team, Los Dos, we have weekly practices on Sunday nights followed by a bible study, team events (meals, movies, missions trips, etc…), games, and then I mentor & disciple 3-4 of the leaders on the team/in the program.

With the Bible study on Sundays with the whole team it can sometimes be great and sometimes the guys can just be uninvolved and tired. But, every week we have a bible verse we read, discuss, and pray over. I laminate these verses to be business card size and give them each one. I have seen certain kids chew on them, throw them away, or just leave them where we were sitting after bible study.

But, God has shown me recently how those seeds are not lost on everyone. 2-3 of the guys recently showed me how they have kept every single card in their wallet, and we are probably up to around 30. Also, another of the older players just recently sent an encouraging word to the rest of the team with the photo below.

It is of him chilling with the Bible Verse in his sock during a bike workout. This verse specifically is, Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We were teaching them to be more like a family, to not: put down each other, fight against each other, to control their tongue. But rather to support, encourage, and how to constructively speak to some one.

It is a good reminder that: they are listening and that God has us down here for a reason.

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Leo graduated!

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This picture is from the summer of 2015, right before we moved to Monterrey to serve these guys full time. Little did we know that Leo would be such a big part of our lives. He was a charismatic kid, that loved to be tough, mouthed off a little, and would always joke around. This picture is actually right before he was kicked out of the Hope Program for all the stupid stuff he was about to do (don’t worry, he would agree with me saying that to you all, it is the truth haha).

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We moved down to Monterrey September of 2015 and that next month Leo started hanging out at our house all the time. He came to know the Lord and turned from the bad decisions he was making. Around that same time, we started  our Hope Program soccer team, called Los Dos. This is where Leo and I started doing in depth discipleship and mentoring.

Then one day about 7 months later the kid that once got kicked out of the Hope Program came back to speak at a retreat for our children’s home kids. He was the main speaker. He told his story, bared all, and God used him in big ways.

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It has been a little over a year since he spoke at that retreat and he just graduated college. We are so proud of the man of God he is becoming.

We have a new tradition here in Back2Back Monterrey. When a student graduates, they are allowed to ring a big bell on campus. The idea is that the students see this bell all the time and hope and dream to ring it one day. They know that day will be when they graduate.

Well, On July 3rd, 2017 Leo rang that bell so hard. As our family spoke to all who attended, this is what I said,

” It is not how you start, or how you run the race that matters most, but it is how you finish. Leo, you got off to a rough start, but you’re finishing well. Also, you graduating means nothing to us compared to you knowing Jesus. We are so proud of you for the fact that you love Jesus with all your heart and are allowing God to use you in others’ lives.”

Well done, my brownie bro. We will always be here for you. We am excited to see the husband and father you will be one day.

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We have a good good Daddy

God is so good. When we first arrived here in Mexico, the first thing I noticed was the soccer field. Now… B2B staff did the best they could to keep up with the wear and tear on the field. But, it is extremely difficult when the rain comes and the kids play on this field 24/7.

I remember asking one of our Hope Program students, “What is one thing you would love to have happen while your here at B2B?” He replied, ” To play on some good soccer fields.”

I had found a new turf field that was just being built down the street from us, but it was difficult to find time to get onto this field. We also play on turf fields for our league games, but these fields not only cost us to play on them, but they also are very old, beat up, and just not good.

Honestly, I was not even praying for a new turf soccer field. We have education and living expenses for our students that we need money for and those are way more important than turf fields. So, I never really prayed about it or spoke to anyone about it.

Then the summer of 2016 hit and there was one man that asked the question, “Jed, I see that the field on campus needs some work, what if you and the kids could have new turf to play on whenever you wanted in its place?”

I said, “Well, that would be amazing, but we have needs in our Hope Program in paying for kids education, that is more important right now.”

He said, “Well, what if I pay for half of that turf field, and I will still donate to the Hope Program?”

I said, “Well, I cannot argue with that.”

That in and of itself is amazing, especially because we were not praying for it. But, God hears the cry of His children no matter if it is a field or education.

Within a week the funds came in for the field. We were in August and we set a timeline of December 31st to have the other half raised. We, B2B staff, were calling all of our contacts that may jump in on this, but most of our traction would come in 2017. We had raised some money but still needed a big chunk.

Here comes December 30th and we still need a little under half. Then a man calls in about placing a donation online. He wanted to designate it to the field, but was figuring out how to do it online. We thought it would be a smaller donation. But, one of our staff came in after New Years and looked at the incoming donations and saw the amount. That man had given the other half that was needed. We were astonished and amazed. We fully thought there was no way to get this money in on the timeline we had set. Then BOOM, God is like, I can do all things my son.

We have such a good Daddy in our God. He not only loves to answer our prayers, but he loves to give when we do not ask as well. And now we have a new turf field on campus that our kids play on every single day, our team plays on every week, and all of us are just enjoying.

Why does God do this kind of stuff? Well, He loves seeing his children happy and enjoying themselves. And He especially loves doing things when we have no part in them at all, no prayers, no nothing. That way, literally the only glory we can give is to God. Lastly, he hears His children’s cries, and He loves to respond to them.

Here is a video that shows the development as well.

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Age does not matter…only desire and faith

 

As she listened to the stories of children requesting their “own” books at the children’s home her heart was touched. She knew from that moment on something had to be done. I mean, she had so many of her “own” books. She knows the value of having your “own” stuff and how impactful it would be if these children had things of their own. It could provide a sense of value, a sense of autonomy, a sense that there is a God out there the does care about their wants and needs.

Usually when someone walks up to you to explain their desire of helping these vulnerable children, it is sad to say, but it does not come to fruition on our end. You do not lose hope that God will not send someone, but you do become a little skeptical. When God places a girl in your life like little Jacqueline, that skepticism turns to how optimism and ultimately how great God is.

This girl was only 14 years old. Most kids her age, if not all, only are thinking about snapchat, instagram, and what movie they will go see next. But, she was eager to find out exactly what the kids wanted and needed within the children’s home. It was explained to her how beneficial it would be for the children to not only have their own book, but also to purchase a certain kind of test to identity education weaknesses. Again, we were a little skeptical because there are not too many 14 year old girls out there willing to pay for something like this themselves. Oh yeah, forgot to tell you that, she wanted to raise this money on her own like a champ.

Her parents were happy to hear this, but also did not know how she would get this done.

When missions guests come to Back2Back on a mission trip we do a nightly debriefing session that teaches people to process, pray, and think about what God is doing during that week. Ultimately the goal is for people to go home and to continue their eager drive for the orphan and not to crash and burn because the high is over.

This girl would not bow out easily. She made a plan and stuck with it. When she returned home she sold baked goods at EVERY possible Home sporting school event she could. She laid out the items and with vigor told people about the books, the tests that were needed, and the impact her trip made on her life. Through that first Fall season she raised over $700 and then because of her advocacy she raised another $800 through generous donors. She raised more money than was originally requested.

The next visit she had to Monterrey we took her around and showed her the impact of her efforts. Usually we do this with adults, but here we were bringing this now 15 year old around and showing her the impact that God has made through her strong desire to fight for the vulnerable children in this world.

I am so excited to see how this girl will grow and what big things God will do through her.

Missions guests, especially the young ones, often ask me if I have any ideas on how they can sponsor a child, get involved, or in what ways they can raise the money. I provide some ideas, but I usually share this story and then go on to say, “It is not how old you are that matters, it is how big your desire and faith are.”

Below is a Thank You note from one of our Volunteer Coordinators on how deep the impact went from this 14 year olds desire to help,

We are very happy that the kids were able to experience receiving a totally new book for their literature classes in the library, and the kids were even happier! They were able to write their names inside the cover and know that after they finish reading that book with the volunteers, it will not become a part of the general library, but a part of their personal library- the book is theirs!

 
This has helped them a lot because they are able to value and take care of the book that belongs to them. But the best part is that they are able to follow along while another child is reading and they even can correct each other when one of them messes up. We were able to make this a reality in Bethany, Casa Hogar Douglas and Casa Hogar Del Norte.
 
We were also able to purchase a psychological test that schools generally ask for when a child has learning difficulties. It was very expensive to pay someone to apply those tests each time, but now we, along with some local volunteers who are psychology students, have evaluated 3 children and we are preparing to continue evaluating children who need it. The great thing about this test is that it allows us to specifically detect what the children need in order to achieve learning. We are then able to tell the local volunteers how to best help those children.
 
Sometimes we don’t know the impact that it can have when we choose to obey God’s voice when our hearts tell us to do something, but we are honestly so grateful for people like you who have sensitive hearts- not only to the needs of others, but most importantly, sensitive to God who directs us in how to serve others.”
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