23 June 2008

A New Ministry

In mid April we decided to investigate the need or an orphanage in Cuenca. In spite of being told for years that there was no pressing need for children at risk in Cuenca and southern Ecuador, what we discovered was startling and sad. Every facility we visited in Cuenca, was under-staffed, over-worked and under-funded. In 2007,only 31 children in all of Ecuador were adopted in spite of the 230,000 'orphans' who live here!

Paola Hermoza's entire family followed Marilyn and I here from Lima, Peru 11 years ago. A young woman with a burden for orphans and abused children, Paola set out interviewing orphanage directors, social service administrators, doctors, lawyers, social workers and even interviewed the director of the women’s prison here in Azuay province. To a person, everyone she interviewed pleaded for assistance and concurred that, because of the strength of the Family Health Foundation and the decades of stability of the Verbo church, a children’s home founded by us could rescue many precious lives of children at risk. We also believe that this thrust toward mercy and social justice could impact our entire city and province with the gospel in action. (Mt.25:40)
We presented a proposal to the executive board of the foundation. Our orphanage proposal was enthusiastically received and unanimously approved. Preliminary government approval came rapidly, due both to the solid history of the Family Health Foundation and the diligent efforts of Paola. We then presented the vision to the church and six couples immediately volunteered to work as house parents or assist in any way they could. The time table we projected had us receiving our first children in September, but it seems God had another idea!
On June 1, the Lord dropped 8 children on our door step. Suffering unmentionable abuse at the hands of their demonized father, these eight siblings were filled with fear and anxiety. Their mother fled in terror, when their father repeatedly raped one of the children in front of the others, and then threatened to sell them into child prostitution.

So now, our well articulated plan could not wait for our carefully scheduled timetable. We kicked it into high gear, believing God for provision. The Verbo church family rallied with clothing and temporary housing. Family Health Foundation, treated the two youngest for pneumonia, provided medicine to treat all 8 children for lice and scabies and pregnancy tested one of the older siblings.

Temporary housing was found to meet the immediate need, but we needed a home closer to town where our psychologist, social worker, and other care givers could begin the long-term healing we had originally envisioned. In the beginning of this quest, we made a commitment to Jesus to care for these children as HE wanted them cared for.

Paola’s contacts quickly found us a couple who were willing to rent their large house for $800 per month. That amount seemed beyond our reach, but in faith we looked at the house and offered them $500, the amount we had originally budgeted for our first home. Raul and his wife, Etelvina, who attends a Verbo women’s bible study, were moved by our heart for orphans, and agreed to rent to us for our $500 budget amount. On July 1 we are the new tenants of a beautiful house in Cuenca, near the church building and a big market - God is faithful!
After we interviewed the potential house parents on Saturday, June 14, we found the perfect couple to care for these 8 precious children. Yuri and Maria del Carmen have a two year old daughter, Rebekah, and because of a health condition will not have other children of their own. Yuri has always wanted lots of children and Maria feels called by God to be a mother of many.I had the privilege of leading Maria del Carmen to the Lord a number of years ago. Since that time, this couple has been an integral part of the Verbo church family. Maria del Carmen has helped Marilyn with the medical brigades, and then went on to work in the Physical Therapy department at our clinic. We are confident this couple can help foster the wholeness and healing these battered siblings need and deserve.

On Sunday, June 15, Maria del Carmen brought all the children to church, and the oldest sister, Daniela, gave her heart to the Lord. We know this is the first fruits of our obedience to the Lord’s command to care for the orphans and fatherless. (James 1:27)

-Please pray for God’s provision of furniture, bedding, appliances, dishes and the plethora of items we will need to make this house a home.
-Pray the authorities will take the father’s crimes seriously and detain him accordingly.
-If God moves you to participate financially please send your tax deductible checks to AIM- and note "for the orphanage", the address is at the bottom of the page. Or you can give by clicking on the donate button on this page as well. By all means, if you would like to help us in a hands on way, we would appreciate your help on a short term mission.
On mission with you - John

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