“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
Last year, my wife and I traveled to Guatemala’s Mission Campus to share in special outreaches and celebrations. While preparing to leave, we heard on the news about a home in Guatemala where at least 18 children had died in a fire. Needless to say, we were greatly disturbed and prayed for the families. Little did we realize how this was going to impact us; indeed break our hearts!
In Guatemala, we heard various stories and read reports that included the following statements:
“These are the dumping grounds for people who are not wanted by society, whether they are disabled or gay or happen to get there through the criminal justice system.”
“Guatemalan human rights officials said Thursday that they believe the 35 girls who were killed (when a fire swept through a children’s home dormitory) had been unable to escape because they were locked inside. Legislators also heard that only three of the 64 security cameras were working in the home which housed 750 children in a space meant for 500.”
Driving to the Campus, our Director said “Pastor, one of the 40 girls (the number continues to rise) who died attended our school.” We were stunned as we heard this and our hearts began to break. Tears quietly began to flow. Her name was Milenie and was, in fact, one of our sponsored children. From the age of 6, Milenie displayed behavioral difficulties and her Mother tried everything to help her. The Mission did its best and, of course, we are grateful to her sponsors who stood by her for years. In January, she ran away from home, was picked up by Police who placed her in the City Government Home and tragically lost her life in the fire. Yes, our hearts were broken! We prayed for her family and the families of all who lost their lives.
As the week continued, I shared the story with our entire student body, encouraging them not to be led astray, to realize their potential and the plan God has for them. It reenergized our commitment to help the children and young people of Guatemala. Recognizing the need for kids in trouble or faced with abuse and problems at home (some who are even wards of the court), we opened a special fund to provide help. An example: children in a home close to Campus (run by a wonderful Pastor and his team) are wards of the court who struggle in public school. From this special fund, they will be able to attend the Arms of Jesus (AOJ) School and will be blessed in so many ways by our ministry. (It is difficult to find sponsors for them because the Court can remove them at any time.)
We are so blessed! Please pray for the children who are ‘placed into the dumping grounds of society’ and pray for us as we seek to be ‘the arms of Jesus to them.’