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From formerly homeless drug-addicted street kids to successfully working to providing for their young families. In January a corporation in Mexico City agreed to hire four of my former street kids. It was a challenge to take guys who had been abandoned in the streets when they were 5-8 years old to train in job skills, and to thrive in the social and professional environment at their job sites. The company they are working for is amazing and helped every step of the way. My friends have helped in huge ways to mediate and problem solve when issues came up. Four months later one has been promoted, and the other loves his job and is doing very well. The other two are in the process of transitioning into their jobs. I’m so proud of these guys for having hope, and believing their lives could change.
I’m walking on air from visiting the the home in Dallas where the lives of mothers and babies are being saved. Five years ago I was introduced a home in Mexico City where I saw volunteers working with young mothers from the street to save their lives and their unborn babies. The founders of the home had a desire to expand the model they had developed to the USA. Girls would live in the house during their pregnancy and after giving birth while learning life skills, and how to care for their babies. I invited the founders of the home to Omaha to Omaha to share the vision. Three years ago the home in Omaha opened and where 30 babies have been born each year. This past summer the home expanded to Dallas. Our dream from the beginning was to open homes in 50 cities within the first 10 years after starting the first home in Omaha. It was so awesome to see the Dallas home in operation, and the joy of the 18 volunteers pouring their lives into the young mothers and their babies.
No longer street kids. Drug-free, no longer on the street, and now employed. A large company in Mexico City has partnered with me to hire, train, and support the mission of transforming the lives of street kids. For the first time these guys are working a full time job, receiving a monthly pay check, and will no longer live in poverty. I attended their orientation and went to their job site on their first day. I’ll visit their job site each week to check on how they are doing and talk to their supervisor to work on any issues that come up. As we see success I will be able to place more former street kids in jobs.
Twice a year in Mexico City I bus the homeless street kids I’m working with to the mountains for a day outside of the city. Each time I see a big difference in the response of the kids after getting them out of the city for the day.
This summer I brought over to 50 people to Alaska on short and long term retreats and mission projects. One of the college mission groups I hosted focused on the homeless in downtown Juneau. Each day we stepped into the lives of the homeless to care and listen in downtown Juneau. At the end of the week I chartered a bus to go out the road for a day of spending time in the outdoors. We grilled out and spend time connecting. One man brought a fishing pole and fished for Salmon. The opportunity to spend the day away from the city had a similar effect as it does in Mexico City. One man shared that for the first time since he lost his wife he experienced peace and happiness. The lives of the students with me were deeply impacted from the experience of stepping into the lives of the homeless and sharing Christ.
Each summer for the past 13 years I’ve traded the mega-city of Mexico City for the Alaska wilderness. I leave Mexico City in May and return refreshed in September. In May flew from Mexico City to Yakutat, Alaska with 18 college students from the lower 48 states and FOCUS staff for a two-week project. Our mission was to construct a playground for the kids in the village. The Rasmuson Foundation in Alaska donated the $370,000 to purchase the playground. The village of Yakutat has been planning this project for two years and scheduled the construction of it around the dates around when I would be in Yakutat with the college students.
The village of Yakutat is the most isolated community in the United States. There are no roads connecting Yakutat to the other parts of the United States or Canada. The closest community in any direction is 195 miles away. The only way to visit Yakutat is to by air or by sea.
On Monday morning we started building the playground on bare dirt. We worked alongside of a team of Americore volunteers, city employees, and employees from the playground company. Each afternoon we stopped to hold a VBS (Kids Club) for the kids in the village.
After 10 days of work the playground opened. The kids in the village had been counting down the days and were so excited.
I came to Mexico City in 2006 with the vision of working with college students, and impacting the lives of the poor. In a few days I will finish the year, and celebrate 10 years of mission work in Mexico City. Every year has been amazing. I love stepping into the lives of people in Mexico, the staff who come to work with me, and college students to come to work with me during their breaks. I continue working with different communities of homeless youth, loving them, sharing meals, and building relationships.
On May 10th I will fly from Mexico City to Alaska where I will spend my 13th straight summer working with college students and Native Alaskans. This summer I will take missions to the Island villages of Yakutat and Hoonah. I love working in Mexico City, but I love trading living in one of the largest cities in the world for the wilderness of Alaska each summer.
One of the projects I’ve been working over the past 16 months is to start a 501c3 non-profit ministry called Hope of the Poor. The organization is based in Nebraska and we have received approval to receive funding and give tax-deductible receipts. Under Hope of the Poor I will be able to bring on staff and interns to work alongside me on my team in Mexico City. I will remain with the organization Global Services Associates (GSA), and will continue to receive my funding through GSA for right now. Hope of the Poor will give me the platform for developing funding for the projects to help the poor and reach out to university students. Check out our website at hopeofthepoor.org.
Merry Christmas. May this holy night awaken in us new faith in the truth of Emmanuel God-with-us. Jesus is born.
Marlene showed up on the street two years ago. She was 14 and using inhalants. She started dating one of the guys in the community of street kids. In February she found out she was pregnant.
In February and March I hosted 125 Spring Break college students who came to Mexico City on one week mission trips. Each day during the six-weeks of Spring Break the college students stepped into the lives of the poor, the forgotten and the lonely. At least once each week I took the college students to one of the communities of street kids I’ve worked with for the past five years. The students fed the hungry, they gave drink to the thirsty, and they clothed the naked (Matthew 25). The lives of the college students were impacted. Students returned home with a desire to bring Christ to people around them.
For Marlene the experience of being welcomed by strangers changed her life. The students believed in her, and gave her courage. They affirmed her in a way she could not affirm herself. They bought her clothes, They listened to her story, they cared for her, and they prayed with her.
God brought healing in Marlene’s life during these days and changed the direction of her life. She left drugs. She started taking care of herself and her unborn baby. She moved into a home where she now lives. In November she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Her boyfriend is supporting her and their baby. They have plans to build a life together.
Karla was one of the first girls brought to the safe house in Mexico City I’ve worked with since 2010. At the age of 12, a sex trafficker targeted her while she was waiting for friends near a subway station in Mexico City. Today Karla an advocate against human trafficking and is sharing her story of survival at public events and conferences. Over the years my staff and groups of college students on mission projects from the USA have worked with the girls in the Safe House. The founder of the Safe House was elected to the Mexican Congress on an anti-trafficking platform. I served on her Commission on Human Trafficking in the Mexican Congress for two years, and served on a task force with the Attorney General of Mexico to come up with tangible steps to take for ending trafficking. One of the biggest challenges was convincing the general public that trafficking was taking place in Mexico. When that happened, anti trafficking legislation was passed making trafficking a Federal crime. Today people like Karla are sharing their stories and leading the way to advocate for the victims of trafficking in Mexico and around the world. Article http://tinyurl.com/opp5xxa
An article came out that describes the street kids in Mexico City. I’ve worked with the kids in this article. They live in an area just a few blocks from another community of street kids where I spend a lot of time. They are not “Rat Children”. I have seen many kids with their same stories and conditions change. It means the world to a street kid when someone will sit down to listen and believe in them; to treat them as a human being, and see Christ in them. Article http://tinyurl.com/ob7ndte
During my nine years in Mexico City I’ve partnered with a number of organizations who have brought their influence and resources to Mexico City. This past February the CCO organization from Canada sent a mission of college students to Mexico City to share with students and serve the poor. We had an amazing week, and I really wanted to work with future CCO mission trips, and partner with the organization to bring their resources to Mexico City. In September two leaders from CCO came to give training to students on leading Bible Studies, and work on publishing their five Bible studies in Mexico City for distribution in Latin America. I’m excited about this partnership and the impact their ideas and resources could have on Latin America.
Four years ago I was introduced to a person involved in with an organization to save the lives of mothers and their unborn babies in Mexico. He had a vision for expanding the home from Mexico City to Nebraska. I agreed to help and several months later later we flew home to Omaha. During the meetings we had in Omaha a group came together to form a board of directors to start a home. Within two years the home was opened in Omaha. The home is doing amazing work. Thirty babies have been born through the home. The Board of Directors is currently working to start a second home in Dallas.
In May I flew from Mexico City to the village of Yakutat Alaska for a two week Focus outreach mission. Twenty-three students and staff arrived from 19 different USA university campuses. The experience of taking these students to Yakutat was one of the greatest mission experiences of my life.
Yakutat is a fishing village located in a protected bay on the Gulf of Alaska approximately 200 miles north of Juneau. There are no roads leading to Yakutat. To arrive in the village, you have to take a 21-hour ferry from Juneau or a flight on Alaska Airlines.
The objective of the mission was to serve the community and invest in lives while sharing the love and hope of Christ. For two weeks we served th elderly, and those in need of help and encouragement. Students had the opportunity to learn the culture and traditions from Naive Alaskans while being surrounded by God’s breathtaking creation.
Each morning the mission took on projects in the community from cutting out trees in the overgrown yard of an elderly person, to cleaning out trash that had accumulated in the yard of a person in poor health. We worked on projects for the city government, the Forest Service, and churches in Yakutat. In the afternoons we held a community VBS for the kids. Each evening for dinner volunteers from churches in Yakutat prepared amazing meals. We feasted on fresh Salmon, Halibut, clams. Each evening we gathered for a bonfire on one of the Yakutat beaches. On most evenings kids and adults from the community joined us around the fire while many played soccer or surfed.
The hospitality we received in Yakutat was amazing. The community opened their lives to us. The lives of the students were impacted from the experience of serving, the conversations they had, and the opportunities to share their faith.
All are drug free in this picture. They have jobs. They all have spending money. Five years ago I started hanging out with a community of 17 drug addicted homeless street kids. During the first 18 months three died. The last to die was Aaron, a 22 year-old who died while I was with him on the street. The experience of not being able to save Aaron changed me. I changed my approach and started believing in these kids. I started showing up during my free time on Sunday evenings, and treating them like brothers. Some I have taken some to rehab three or four times. A big change in the community came four years ago when I started giving them the Faith Comes by Hearing Audio Bible. To this day they would rather be listening to the Spanish audio Bible than anything. They started believing that they mattered. Another big change came 18 months ago when my friend Padre Gaitley came and prayed for the kids, and prayed over the place on their street where they sleep. The kids who slept in that spot of the concrete suddenly were able to resist the non-stop temptation.
In March I was honored to receive the Order of Omega Outstanding Alumni Award for 2014-2015 from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. I have my undergraduate and graduate degrees from UNK. I served as the Chapter Adviser for the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity at UNK for 13 years.
This past June I recorded a video of carp jumping into my canoe at Kamp Ed. I uploaded the video to YouTube to share it with my friends. After a number of months the video had been viewed 150 times, In March a Russian news website discovered the video and linked it to their site. Overnight the video went viral. During the following days friends in the USA saw the video on ESPN and Good Morning America. Here is the video: 9 Jumping Carp Caught In Canoe One of my friends sent me the screen shot below from ESPN.
During the week of Easter Jesus Film was shown on national television in Mexico. This is the 4th year I’ve been able broadcast a movie about Jesus on television in Mexico during Easter through bringing together the largest television network in Mexico with the owners of the Jesus Film to give the rights for showing the movie. Years ago I took teams of college students to Mexico on missions to rural villages to show the Jesus Film in the streets. Today it’s so amazing to see the film on national television. Over the years the Jesus Film has been seen 5 billion times by 3 million people, and translated into 1295 languages. Over 200 million people have indicated decisions for Christ after watching the film.
For six back-to-back weeks in February and March I hosted Spring Break mission groups. During these weeks 115 amazing college students and staff spent a week in Mexico City. We shared the gospel in high school classrooms, served the poor, and spent time with street kids. I met each group at the airport and stayed with each group until returning them to the airport to drop them off and welcome the next group. There were so many amazing conversations, and lives impacted during these weeks. I loved every second of stepping into the lives of the students, the staff, and the poor. When the last group left I returned to my apartment for the first time in over a month and slept for days.
I promised my 84-year old friend Pancito a wheelchair the next time I organized an outreach to assemble and distribute chairs to the poor. However I did not get on the list this year to receive wheelchairs. Yesterday Andy, my accountability partner and great friend since college, and I bought Pancito a chair that is light but durable. It will easily fit into the trunk of a taxi. Thanks Andy!
Eleven years ago Ethan Wiekamp joined my staff in Nebraska. Ethan grew up in my hometown and his parents have been a part of my support team most of Ethan’s life. When and I moved to Mexico City in 2006 Ethan took my job as the Nebraska State Director. He and his wife Terah did an outstanding job leading the campus ministry in Nebraska I was a part of starting. This past December Ethan accepted a new job lead a large International ministry working with graduate students as their CEO. Ethan called shortly after accepting the job to share the great news. I am so proud of Ethan and Terah. Ethan shares the details of his move and new job here: http://vimeo.com/114160288
In November I traveled from Mexico City to Kansas City to speak at Pike University, a gathering of 460 undergraduate members of Pi Kappa Alpha from campuses in the Midwest and the South. I gave a talk on serving the poor and had great conversations during the weekend.
In 2014 I hosted 115 students and missionaries who come to Mexico City. The days were filled with opportunities to step into the lives of college students from the USA while serving the poor. Some came for a few days, most came for a week. Aaron came for three weeks. Elizabeth stayed for six weeks. Courtney is spending the year working with me.
During the year 2015 plans are in place for 8 weeks of missions with 20-40 in each group. During the months of February and March I have 6 weeks of back-to-back Spring Break groups groups scheduled. Courtney will help with logistics for the groups each week. I absolutely cannot wait for these days.
Elizabeth is an college student from St. Louis. This fall she came to Mexico City to work with me for 6 weeks. Elizabeth first came to Mexico City on a Spring Break Mission Trip in March of 2014. It was so great having Elizabeth in Mexico City. She did an amazing job stepping into the lives of college and high school students
In October Aaron Peterson from Kearney came to Mexico City to work with me for three weeks. Aaron stayed in my apartment and went with me each day in Mexico City to work with college students or to serve the poor. For three weeks we had non-stop amazing conversations. For three weeks we went non-stop in stepping into lives in Mexico City. Aaron is the coolest guy who affirms and encourages everyone around him. Aaron was amazing in the way he reached out to the street kids, the homeless that we fed on the street and the elderly homeless women who have no families. He quickly became friends with Elizabeth and Courtney on my team, and bonded with my neighbors. I’ve known Aaron since he came to Kamp Ed as a 5th grader, and he’s been back to Kamp Ed many times as a sponsor . I went to college with his mom, and his dad has helped me at Kamp Ed with building projects. His grandfather Jim Miller was a favorite college professor of mine and has been a big encouragement to me.
What would happen if you took a group of homeless, drug addicted street kids and believed in them? Four years ago I did just that. I adopted a community of 17 kids living on the streets of Mexico City; all were addicted to inhalants. Unfortunately, three of the original 17 died. But for the rest, the future is promising. I’m not declaring total victory because it’s common for kids to relapse. But as of right now, none of the 14 kids in that original street community are on drugs.
My work with this community of street kids started four years ago in a corporate office building overlooking Mexico City. The owner of the largest cell phone company in Mexico was working with me on a project to distribute the audio Bible through cell phones. Before the meeting started, a lady attending the meeting shared with us the story behind a community of street kids she had befriended. She asked if I would start working with them. Several days later I met the group and instantly committed myself to a new project.
Over the years, I’ve visited the kids on weekends. My goal has been to see Christ transform their lives through the hope that springs up when we love those who are discarded. I’ve worked to offer them encouragement while providing for their basic food and clothing needs. My team and I were able to give them the Faith Comes by Hearing audio Bible; they listened nonstop day and night. It did not take long for many of the kids to give their lives to Christ, but they still remained drug addicted.
I was shocked when the one of the kids died, shortly followed by another. Both were young and strong. Both were addicted to inhalants. I was with the 3rd kid when he died. The ambulance came but the workers refused to take him in because he was a dirty, drug addicted street kid. The medic asked me, “What good would it do?” He continued, “We could save his life today, but he would just be back on the street tomorrow.” Aaron was the young man’s name. Aaron died on the street 10 minutes after the ambulance left; he died from being weakened due to the dehydration caused by a virus. Hospitalization and an IV would have saved his life.
Aaron never had shared any family details with me so there was no one I could contact about his death. I wanted Aaron to have a proper funeral and burial. I claimed Aaron’s body, but because I’m a non-family member it took nine days of maneuvering through the Mexican legal system, involving the Attorney General and the office of the President of Mexico, as well as an article in the largest daily newspaper before Aaron’s body was released to me, and his friends and I could honor him in death.
I knew that something had to change. If it didn’t, the entire group of street kids I had adopted would die. I started treating these kids not as a project, but as friends. My staff and mission teams who came to work with me changed approaches too. Valued friendships were founded with the kids and we took them all around the city with us as we stepped into the lives of others. They became an important part of our lives, not a scheduled project. They were changed because of that. I believe that lives change when one person believes in someone else. I have always believed that transformation can take place even among street kids whom the world has labeled as worthless. It didn’t take long to find out the impact of believing.
First, one of the remaining 14 responded to encouragement, then the next. Over the past two years, one by one each has gone for treatment. Four guys held out a long time against the hope and encouragement that God was able to offer them through our friendship. But the love of Jesus won out. During the past week those last four guys, who told me over and over that they had no interest in changing their lives, responded. I was privileged to take them to a rehab center for a 56 day program. A circle of their friends, many previous street, drug addicted, kids came along as support. Today all of them are inhalant free. We continue to support the last four through visits and sponsorship as they seek freedom from addiction and find hope in Jesus.
If street kids in Mexico City, those who the world sees as hopeless or valueless, will respond when someone intentionally and consistently believes in them, just image the possibilities that lay around each one of us..
On Friday Abram left the street. Abram is a 21-year old with the future ahead of him if he can leave inhalants. I have taken Abram to the rehab clinic in the past only to have him change his mind at the door. This time we took along his friends who are inhalant-free. When Abram changed his mind at the door his close friends were there to encourage him to go. As of right now Abram, Tapia, Vicente, and Ivan from the street community are in the rehab clinic. I’m also asking friends to join me to pray for these four guys during the next 56 days during their treatment. Our Revive staff in Mexico City are making a fast for 56 days in forgoing something, and using that time to pray. Ideas are not checking facebook during the last 15 minutes of the day, if that is what you normally do, and using that time to pray for the poor.
Last night Tapia, Ivan, and Vicente left the street to enter a rehab center. I’ve been friends with these guys for four years, and visit them on Sunday evenings with food, shoes, blankets and encouragement. I’ve taken others from this community off the street to treat their addictions but all three have said no to me for four years—-until now. It’s so amazing! These guys arrived on the street when they were young kids. They are tough, they are fighters, and they are amazing to survive day after day living on the street. Many of my friends from USA and Mexico City have been to the street with me and many pray for them. Thank you! They need prayer right now—-the first three days of detox of coming off the inhalants are rough. Many of the kids in the community have been to rehab and wanted make sure they did not change their mind at the last minute. Eight of the guys piled into my Tracker, and more rode with our Revive staff Elizabeth and Courtney, and one of my friends in Mexico City. We drove across the city to the rehab center the city with the windows down. Fortunately the police turned a blind eye to overloading the Tracker. At the door of the center Tapia changed his mind—-but the others encouraged him to go. As their sponsor I will visit these guys every Saturday for the next two months and take them food, canteen money to buy snacks, and check to see how they are doing. I gave them a Proclaimer to listen to the Faith Comes by Hearing audio Bible. It’s so amazing that right now Tapia, Ivan, and Vicente are off the streets. Praise be to God.
Eight years ago I arrived in Mexico City. I came on a three year commitment to work with college students and leaders in Mexico. Today I continue working with college students, leaders, and for the past five years have worked with the poor. I am full of joy as I start my 9th year in Mexico City. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation (Romans 15:20 NIV). I’m excited for the opportunities to help bring Christ to Mexico in ways and in places and in ways that do not exist today. I will share the stories here on CraigJohring.com as they happen. (photo) Celebrating the birthday of Vicente on Sunday with the community of street kids I’ve worked with for the past four years.
I am full of joy from spending a week with a group of college students from Nebraska. This past week students from the Christian Student Fellowship (CSF) in Nebraska came to Mexico City to serve the poor. The CSF students were from the campuses of UN-Kearney and UN-Omaha. The trip was led by Brady Cone and my nephew Brock Fairbrother. We spent the week serving in a shelter for 472 elderly homeless women. The women live in some of the poorest conditions imaginable.
Each day we cleaned their living areas, helped bathe the handicapped, and fed the disabled. Each day was so amazing to have the opportunity to serve the poor and witness the impact the experience was having on students as they as they encountered Christ in the poor. Caleb, a student from UNK summed up the week in a note he sent after returning home: “What a life changing experience, I will never be the same and what I was able to see will never leave me. For what little I was blessed to do for the least of these, Jesus has worked on my heart and I have been helped and blessed so much more… I found Jesus and I pray His love was shown through me for He is the only one who could ever help and save the wonderful, beautiful people I was able to serve. God is good, and although I have seen people at their lowest this week, He has introduced me to some real worriers of the faith doing amazing things for an extraordinary God. I have been to dang blessed.”
Of the 700+ who have came to Mexico City with me during the past seven years Kat has stayed the longest. Kat came on our first Mexico City team in 2006. During the first three years she was an important part of starting student-led Bible studies on as many as 50 university campuses in Mexico City.
Four and a half years ago when I changed my organizational affiliation from Campus Crusade for Christ to Global Service Associates, Kat made the same change and we continued to work together. Kat has helped coordinate our Mending the Soul conferences to train caregivers working with human trafficking victims. For many years Kat has worked in a Safe Home to help restore the lives of girls who were rescued from being sold in the streets.
In 2006 on a university campus in Mexico City Kat met a leader named Oscar. A week ago on Saturday Kat and Oscar were married. Hundreds of people Kat and Oscar have impacted over the years attended. Nate and Sarah from our first team in 2006 came from Colorado. It was a joy to see many girls Kat has worked in the Safe Home with who were victims of human trafficking. I remember their broken condition after being rescued. Today through the investment of Kat and others in their lives many are experiencing healing and restoration.
Since finishing college Oscar has worked in full-time ministry. Blessings to Oscar and Kat on their marriage, and the beginning of a new part of their amazing lives together.
This past week the International Justice Mission (IJM) held the Justice Week at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK). The week ended with a 24-hour event called the Stand. Students stood for 24 hours in support of ending slavery. Through the night and day students stood for freedom, and had great conversations. On each hour during the 24 hours the students circled to pray for the victims of trafficking and for the end of slavery.
The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity co-sponsored the Stand with IJM. I came up from Mexico City to speak at the closing event. In my years of working at UNK I have never seen anything so cool. It blew my mind to see how students in Kearney care so deeply for the victims of trafficking in Latin American, and how they would stand and pray for the victims. I am so impressed with the leaders of IJM and the leaders of Pi Kappa Alpha. To have the student leaders of IJM and Pi Kappa Alpha invite me, and the university pay for my flight home is one of the greatest honors of my life.
During the week of Easter the University of Nebraska at Kearney flew me home from Mexico City. The International Justice Mission (IJM) and the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity hosted a 24-hour event at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) to help end human trafficking. I spoke at the closing event.
My roots run deep at UNK. I have a bachelor’s degree in Agri-Business and a Masters in Counseling. I was the Campus Crusade director, and served as the Chapter Advisor for Pi Kappa Alpha for many years. I am intensely proud of my university. To have the student leaders of IJM and Pi Kappa Alpha invite me, and the university pay for my flight home is one of the greatest honors of my life.
For three days I had non-stop conversations with UNK students, staff, faculty, and advisors who care deeply for the victims of human trafficking. I loved every second of being back in Kearney and stepping into lives.
|Over the past four years a team of filmmakers have been filming a documentary on the street kids I work with. I’ve been excited for this documentary. I believe that how street kids are treated will change when people see them as human beings.
This past Friday the documentary premiered in Mexico City. In the overflowing theater people were made aware and moved to take action in reaching out to the homeless. The street kids were both excited and nervous about speaking at the event. They did great a great job!
The film will be distributed in Latin America and Spain. Here is a link to the 3 minute trailer for the documentary (Spanish): Street Kids Documentry
During the past three weeks thirty-seven Spring Breakers came to Mexico City on mission trips. They worked six hours a day cleaning and caring in a shelter of 475 elderly women who were rescued after being abandoned on the streets.
Each day the director of the institution assigned students to work in buildings alongside of state employees. After the women were bathed and clothed, the students set about to clean. The students deep cleaned living and bathing areas. The staff were amazed these students would come to Mexico to spend their Spring Break helping them. Each day the students focused on more areas to clean. In the evenings the students shared highlights of how the staff were changing.
The lives of the Spring Breakers were changed from their experience of serving some of the poorest of the poor and the 475 women in the institution were loved and cared for. What I did not expect was how the lives of the staff would be impacted.
Several days ago I returned to the home to deliver $500 dollars of medical supplies the students had given. As I walked through each building the staff shared how the students had ministered and encouraged them. I was amazed to see how each building was clean. The staff were cleaning and giving care in ways they had not before. The staff shared that in the 15-year history of the institution no groups had came to help and encourage them.
What an amazing three weeks these have been. I am full of joy from these days of stepping into the lives of students as we cared for the poor. The words of Jesus in Matthew 25 have came to life, “What you did to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.”
For the past three weeks I’ve hosted 37 Spring Break students, and friends in Mexico City who came to serve some of the poorest of the poor. We spent the first day each week with my community of street kids. During each of the following five days each week we served in a shelter for 400 homeless women who have no families.
Students spent six hours each day cleaning and caring for the women. Some helped the handicapped and the weak to eat. Others spent their days caring and praying for the sick and dying. During the first week one of the women in the infirmary for the dying took her last breath after we prayed for her.
Spending two weeks with college students in the context of serving the poor was amazing. I enjoyed every second of stepping into the lives of the students to mentor, disciple, and encourage them. As students served the poor I witnessed transformation taking place in their lives.
One week ago nineteen college students arrived to spend their week of Spring Break in Mexico City. They flew home this morning. The students came to share the love of Jesus, and serve some of the poorest of the poor in Mexico City.
The group this week was amazing. The Spring Breakers worked with my community of street kids on one day. During the rest of the week they spent six hours each day serving in an institution for 400 homeless women I have been helping for the past year. The students encountered some of the most heart-breaking conditions. The students cared for some of the poorest of poor and experienced God working in their lives in ways they could not have imagined.
I returned to my apartment after seeing the group off this morning. This evening seventeen more Spring Break students arrive. I will once again live with the students and take them each day to step into the lives of the poor. I am so excited to spend another week investing in the lives of college students and serving the poor.
Each year from January until late May in Mexico City I host college students visiting from the USA. It is my great joy to step into the lives of those who come to work with me and have week-long conversations in the context of serving the poor. On other weeks I host ministry leaders from the USA to work on evangelism projects, or to meet with leaders in the city. So far in 2014 I’ve had 45 visitors.
Today is the start of the season of Spring Break. Twenty college students arrive today and will spend the week serving the poor. I cannot wait to step into the lives of these students. After one week the group will return home and another Spring Break group of seventeen will arrive on the same day. For the next two weeks I will move from my apartment to the dormitory where they are staying.
During the past seven years I’ve hosted 700 students and leaders in Mexico City, an average of 100 visitors each year. I love these days of working with Spring Break students. The street kids will be blessed to know that students from the USA care from them. The lives of students will be impacted as they encounter Christ while serving the poor.
Yesterday a dream came true with the opening of Mater Filius home in Nebraska.
Mater Filius, Nebraska is a ministry created to help pregnant women who find themselves without support. The women receive housing, counseling, medical attention, workshops, and continuing education at no cost to them. Nineteen months ago I met some amazing Mexican people in Mexico City who had started the home to save the lives of mothers and their unborn babies. They had developed the Mater Filius model for a home over a 10-year period. These people had no idea I was from Nebraska, but shared how they felt God was calling them to start a home in Nebraska. That was crazy! I rarely meet people in Mexico City who know about Nebraska. Their vision was not just for one home. From the initial start in Nebraska, they believed Mater Filius homes would be started across the USA. I blindly volunteered to help not knowing what I was getting into. After we had purchased plane tickets to Nebraska I found out they had not a single contact in Omaha or Lincoln—and were looking to me for making the connections to start this home. You have got to be kidding! I’ve been in Mexico City for a number of years and had no idea who to contact in Nebraska.
I started making calls to Nebraska. Three weeks before the trip to Nebraska I was praying for a miracle. I was having no success in setting up meetings. It was strange for Nebraskans to hear that Mexicans were coming on a mission trip to start a ministry. People I connected with on the phone or over email could hardly believe we were not coming to ask for funding and that no one from Mexico City coming with me was interested in immigrating to the USA. While praying for a miracle, I remembered meeting a person two years earlier who was involved in Pro Life activities to save the lives the the unborn in Nebraska. I had no idea what her name was, but was able to track her down. I was surprised to hear this person had heard from God in prayer before I called and was waiting to see what God was calling her into. She opened the doors and made connections for my friends and I to share the vision of Mater Filius with over a thousand people during our four day visit. We met amazing people in Nebraska who had already heard from God and were ready to start working on the house. They needed no convincing. A Board of Directors came together and many trips were made back and forth between Mexico City and Nebraska.
It was extremely challenging to translate an organization based in Mexico to the USA but we had the right people involved on the Board of Directors who have meet each week to pray together and worked very hard for the past 19 months to reach this day of opening the house. This is only the beginning. We have been contacted by people and organizations around the USA who are interested in starting a Mater Filius home. I am full of joy.
Since 2004 I’ve taken over 400 people to Alaska—-mostly college students, but recently I’ve opened up the experience for friends from Nebraska, and Mexico City. For 6-7 weeks each summer I am full of joy to have the opportunity to trade living in the mega-city of Mexico City to stepping into lives in Alaska. In 2012 my close friends the Horn’s spent 2 amazing weeks in Alaska. Their middle child Ashley has a brain tumor that is inoperable. Every day is treasured as we pray for her healing.
The two weeks were amazing. The kids had been planning for a long time to be baptized while they were in Alaska. On their last night in Juneau the each of the kids where baptized by their father. We were all full of joy as the kids came up out of the freezing Alaska waters as baptized followers of Christ. During my ten years in Juneau I’ve seen the northern lights just once before. On this night as the three kids came out of the water the northern lights started. We were full of joy and imagined the joy also taking place in the heavenlies.
The groups of college students that come to Mexico City for Spring Break mission trips have been an important part of our outreach. More than 600 students have come from the USA during the last seven years, including groups from Wayne State College. That campus is a special to me. I started the Wayne State Campus Crusade ministry in fall 2000. The organization has impacted many lives since then, mine included. They still call it “Campus Crusade for Christ” and have not changed their name. The organization continues the mission we started with 13 years ago, to impact the campus with the hope found in Jesus.
That mission came with the 12 Wayne State students in March who traveled to Mexico City. For the first time in the seven-year Spring Break process, I stayed with the students in the dormitory at the Mother Theresa of Calcutta home. I have remained in my apartment before, but this time wanted to “do life” in a different way with the students. Our week’s mission was to bring Christ to people and learn from the poor. We started out by taking my “adopted” group of street kids hiking in the mountains. That was an amazing experience as many of those kids had never before been outside of the city for a day like this. We followed the hike with a sports outreach to kids in a mission in the southern part of the city. We worked on that with our missionary friends Tina and Tiffany. We also spent time with the girls in a safe house for victims of trafficking, and three times visited a shelter for 300 elderly women who are homeless and have no family. We also took time to renew ourselves with God’s word and good fun. We attended a Bible study taking place at a University campus my staff has worked with for many years. I had a good time introducing the students to my favorite tacos and churros. I enjoyed stepping into the life of each of the students; we had non-stop conversations.
In 2011 I invited the Mending the Soul organization from the USA to train Mexican caregivers of human trafficking victims. Following Mending the Soul representatives’ first visit here, the stage was set to continue caregiver training. In 2012 the Revive staff held four Mending The Soul conferences in Mexico City as follow up to train caregivers, helping them step into the lives of victims to bring healing through Christ.
I worked with the largest television network in Mexico to broadcast the Magdalena Movie on national television the night before Easter. The network heavily promoted the movie and showed the film during a 2-hour prime time slot. This was the 3rd straight year of sharing a Christian movie with the gospel message on the night before Easter. A year ago we broadcasted the Jesus Film. Two years ago the Magdalena movie was shown. It is estimated that each year the viewing audience is 60-80 million.
My USA-sending organization is Global Service Associates (GSA). It’s my fourth year in Mexico under the umbrella of GSA. All of my financial support goes through GSA. In Mexico, however, I work under the banner of “Fundación Revive,” an organization I started. In 2012 six staff and volunteers worked with me on multiple projects through the Revive team.
This is my seventh year working in Mexico City. Each has been amazing. This year has been the greatest! God’s brought together many of the seeds sowed and relationships developed during the last six years, and done so in amazing ways. He’s done it in a way that has allowed me to meet with all kinds of leaders, bringing together people, organizations, and resources for the purpose of changing lives.
The Volviendo movie is now being sold in the USA in over 1000 retail stores and can be purchased online through Amazon.com, Ebay.com, and Walmart.com. If you have a Netfix subscription, you can watch the documentary for free. Search for “Volviendo”. All proceeds from the sale of the movie go to support the film team who are working in Mexico City as they promote the documentary in Latin America and work on their next film project.
Wayne State Athlete Dedicates Wrestling Season To Help Victims of Human Trafficking and Mexico City Street Kids
Rob Peters is a wrestler from Wayne State College, and just happens to be from my hometown in Nebraska. Rob came to Mexico City this past March on a Spring Break trip where he gained a heart for helping the poorest of the poor. He has dedicated this wrestling season to bringing awareness to human trafficking, and helping street kids in Mexico City. Rob is amazing. To follow Rob’s wrestling season and help him in his mission, join his Facebook group: A Season To Remember.
Rob’s mission to help victims of trafficking and street kids in Mexico:
“After a very life changing mission trip to Mexico City and allowing God to change my heart towards people less fortunate than me and humbling my heart I have decided to dedicate my final wrestling season to supporting the homeless, street kids, and girls saved from sex trafficking in Mexico City. My season will be dedicated to helping them gain clothes, shoes and support through donations. For every takedown I get throughout my season I will donate $5, for every win i will donate $5, and for every pin I get I will donate $10. I will also be looking for any clothes, shoes, and socks that people will be willing to donate to the cause. Shoes between the sizes of 7-9 will be ideal and clothes that are between the sizes of small and medium, small would be ideal, but anything you would be willing to donate would be greatly appreciated. If you have any questions feel free to message me on here or write on the wall. Your support is greatly appreciated. This is also to help raise awareness of the poverty of children and adults not only in Mexico City but the whole world. But more importantly to help people understand that there is sex trafficking happening not only in Mexico City but the whole US too!! Sex trafficking is when humans are traded as sex slaves and are subject to physical and emotional abuse. This ranges from girls or guys from ages as young as 7 years old. Women never should be subject to any abuse! As men we are called to be examples as Christ and when they are subject to this kind of abuse there image of Christ is distorted. Lets help to change this and save them. Your support is greatly appreciated! Thanks and God Bless!!”
In October I attended the International Youth Specialties conference in Orlando. The conference brought together 2000 church youth directors from 26 Spanish speaking countries and the USA. My purpose in going was to take the Youth Director for the Archdiocese of Mexico to receive the training and ideas to bring back to reaching the youth in Mexico City.
Oscar, a friend of mine has started a ministry to help the elderly and handicapped. He asked me to help him develop the structure of his ministry. I met 400 women living in state-run dormitories that Oscar is helping. These women have nothing. It tore out my heart to hear their stories. One lady was put out on the street after her husband died and her home was in the name of her husbands family. One lady showed me her sewing, but said she cannot see to sew anymore because she has no glasses. Oscar will collect eye glasses among other things to help these precious souls.
Each summer since 2003 I’ve spent time in Alaska working with college students, Native Americans, people from Alaska, and friends who come to Alaska with me. This past summer my Aunt Shirley and Uncle Ken came to Alaska on a cruise, and we spent the day together. I was so awesome to spend time with them, and seemed like a dream to see my Aunt Shirley and Uncle Ken in Alaska.