Friday, December 31, 2010

End of year Reflections

I (Jim) wanted to share some of the things God has been teaching me throughout this year. I am completing my 4th year of serving with Back2Back here in Monterrey. It has been a year full of spiritual growth for me and I feel energized and excited about where God is leading in the upcoming year! 

During 2010, I was influenced most by the books that I read. They included:

The Hole in Our Gospel
Crazy Love
Outlive Your Life
The Poor Will Be Glad

I'm not sure how many of these books you have read, but I highly recommend ALL of them! I believe God is raising up a movement in many of our Christian Churches in America. The movement is calling for us to rethink who we are as the Church of Jesus Christ. I believe it is not only good but it is necessary!

In his book Crazy Love, Francis Chan gives us a detailed profile of "lukewarm people" in chapter 4. Then, in the beginning of chapter 5 he states,"As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron, there's no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are lukewarm are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven." Those are strong words! 

When I think about who we have become as 21st century Christians living in the most affluent country in the history of the world, I'm scared! The words of Jesus in Revelation 3:15-18 come to mind. In these verses Jesus says that He is about to spit us out of His mouth. That is what scares me! I don't think many of us take God seriously! We know that God's grace is free to all that believe, but we think "being good" is all that God requires of us afterward. 

I'm not sure yet what God is stirring up in me. I want Him to keep stirring it up though! Let's be RADICAL and have what others would call a CRAZY LOVE for God! Together, let's OUT LIVE OUR LIVES and close up THE HOLE IN OUR GOSPEL so that THE POOR WILL BE GLAD!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A blessed Christmas

This Christmas was special for the kids from Casa Hogar Douglas. Currently, this children's home is home for 68 kids. Some of the kids have at least one relative that they can have some contact with. A few of the kids however have no one.
This year we wanted the kids to be with their siblings. (many times in the children's home they are in different dorms) We have been working with the family members to encourage them to be active in the children's lives. I believe that many times it is better for the kids to be in a children's home that is safe rather than in an unsafe environment. We have been blessed to have caregivers who love these kids as their own and want the best for them. However, at a time like Christmas we wanted the kids to be in home situations if possible.
It made me so happy this year to know that ALL 68 KIDS WOKE UP WITH THEIR SIBLINGS IN HOUSES ON CHRISTMAS MORNING! Those that weren't with family members were with Back2Back staff families. All of the children's home staff families were able to be together also and none of them had the responsibility of caring for kids other than their own.
To top it off, a young teenage boy from Indiana, who unexpectedly had lost his own dad a few years ago, decided to give his birthday money to purchase gifts for all of the kids that the Back2Back staff were caring for! It is awesome to witness how God moves in the lives of people. We are blessed to witness what God is doing in the lives of the children we serve as well as in the lives of countless people who are serving with us! It has been a blessed Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

                 We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Jim & Betty

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sweet Christmas Story

The picture above, is Betty with a father and his 2 kids that live at Casa Hogar Douglas. We don't know where their mom is but he comes every Sunday to visit his kids. Sometimes he brings his guitar and plays it in the church services. We have come to realize that there are some parents who really love their kids but are unable to care for them. This dad works as a gardener and cannot care for his kids and work too. So these two are growing up in a children's home. We feel it is best though to encourage family relationships as these kids grow up, even if they are not ideal. The bottom line is we want them to know love of family as well as the love of Jesus.
A friend of ours, has a special attraction for these 2 kids, from her various trips to serve alongside of us. When she was here in October, she left us $50 to give to their dad so that he could enjoy Christmas with his kids. This past Sunday, we gave him the money. He cried like a baby. 
I just wanted to share how God used someone who came on a mission trip, to bring joy to this family. It is another example of how Betty and I were just blessed to be witnesses to what God is doing. So many of you do so much for the kids we serve here. I want you to know that all of the ways you help us share God's love to these kids are important. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas comes to Rio 3

On Saturday, Dec. 18 we celebrated Christmas in Rio 3. We had over 300 kids and about 100 adults celebrating our Lord's birth with us. The new addition doubled our area under roof from just a few months ago. It is a true blessing!
We worshiped, ate a hot meal and handed out gifts for the children. It was an awesome day!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wedding Bells!

This past Saturday, we had a wedding at Casa Hogar Douglas. Adrian and Isabel are two of our newest care givers there. Isabel is 24 and Adrian is 21. They have been together for 5 years. When we found out that they had never been officially married, we asked them if they would want to be married here. They both said "of course!" We are not about judging any one's past but we want to help people do what is correct now.
Adrian and Isabel have been great with the 10 boys that they have been parenting. The boys range in age from 7 years old to 10 years old. Some have suffered some very difficult times in the past. But these two bring a peace to their dorm that is very edifying to each of them.
Adrian and Isabel come from a small town that is at the southern tip of Mexico. Adrian told me that he has not seen his mother in 5 years. The 2 of them have become like our children. In fact Betty and I together have 4 kids that are older than Adrian and Isabel!
We are happy for the 2 of them and we look forward to what God will be doing through them in the future.

Friday, December 10, 2010

CHD woodshop

When I first moved to Mexico, almost 4 years ago now, one of my first projects was to develop a woodworking shop in Casa Hogar Douglas. We received a donation from The James Fund & Family Christian Stores to purchase some woodworking tools and we began to teach the older kids how to make picnic tables and chairs. All of the picnic tables that you see at the children's home today were made by the kids in the woodshop.
Through the years it has been difficult to keep up with teaching the kids as my role has expanded to the position of captain of Casa Hogar Douglas. We have maintained the shop but many times we have just used it when we were working on a specific project.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, we have hired 3 new couples to be workers in the children's home in the last 6 months. The newest couple that came to join us in November is Jose and Lorena. Jose used to have a carpentry shop. He has started to hold classes in woodworking with some of the older kids. These pictures are of the kids making a bookshelf for Marilin's tutoring classroom. It is really a fine piece of furniture.
We have a lot of small projects like this that we are going to be working on. Jose used to make custom kitchen cabinets. I think you will be quite surprised at the items the kids will be making. We also want to have workshops in painting and other artwork, music voice and guitar, cooking and baking. We have a lot of talent in the new workers that we've hired. And the best part is that they love the Lord and the kids!
I hope you can begin to see why I have been saying that we are extremely blessed and our future in Casa Hogar Douglas looks bright. Please keep the kids and this home in your prayers.
The cool part is that after a couple of hours working in the workshops. Jose will say, "Ok, the woodshop is closed." He'll then pick up a frisbee or a soccer ball and begin to play with the kids too. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Out Live Your Life

Recently, I heard author and pastor Max Lucado make the following observation as he promoted his new book, Out Live Your Life. He was considering what he would have done if he was a German Christian living in Germany during the Holocaust. Or, if he lived in the south, during the civil rights conflict, would he have taken a stand against racism. Lucado acknowledged that those questions were hypothetical. But, there was another question that kept him awake at night... 

"When your grandchildren discover that you lived in a day when there were 1.75 billion people who were poor and 1 billion people who were hungry, how will they judge what your response was?"

While the first 2 questions were for other people, living in a different time, the third question is real for all of us. We DO live today and we ARE given a choice. We have an opportunity to MAKE a difference during a difficult time. What will our response be? 

Mexico is a country of 100 million people. It is extimated that 70 million of those live in poverty. Less than 10% have a college education. The work that Betty & I are a part of in Monterrey, Mexico, is to transform the lives of hundreds of children, living in poverty conditions. While this is a country with many problems, I often wonder what might happen if one of the children we are ministering to would one day be elected to political office. How might this country be different if Paco is one day the Mayor of Monterrey? Or Governor of Nuevo Leon? Or President of all of Mexico? We want to make a difference today, that will last far beyond our years!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A challenge to perservere

One of our fellow staff here at Back2back has been recovering from cancer surgery. J.J. Lail was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw at the end of June. He flew home immediately and had surgery within a few weeks. The doctors removed part of his lower jaw and placed a bone from his leg in its place. Most of the last 5 months have been painful and difficult for J.J. and his family. He has been through a lot but he has also been an inspiration to all of us.
Today, J.J. shared his testimony during the church service at Casa Hogar Douglas. He shared with us how Jesus promised in John 16:33 that in this world we would have many troubles but that He has overcome the world. It was a very moving time because J.J. and his family are loved by all of us very much!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A visit from Nascar

Trevor and Michael grilling hotdogs at Rio 3

Trevor presenting Olga with a new microwave they bought for her soup kitchen

Our friend and fellow staff member, Lonnie Clouse was the head Nascar Chaplain for 12 years. Last weekend, he invited a couple of his old friends to come for a short visit. Two of those who came were drivers Trevor Bayne and Michael McDowell. I told Lonnie that these guys really impressed me. I have to admit that a big turn off for me and professional sports is when athletes have so much arrogance that there is little room for others. These 2 guys turned out to be 2 of the most humble and selfless guys you would ever meet. While they were here, they cooked a pancake breakfast for the staff and kids at Casa Hogar Douglas and grilled 300 hot dogs to serve at Rio 3. Maybe there is something about driving a 3,000 lb. race car at 200 MPH when you measure the distance you have with other drivers in inches that helps you keep things in proper perspective. Regardless, these guys won me over! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Remembering Magda

The picture above is of Magda and her husband, Guillermo. If you have worshiped at the church at Casa Hogar Douglas in the last 2 years, you may have met them. They are an elderly couple who have lived near the children's home for many years. When we rebuilt the chapel and started holding regular worship services each week, they became a part of the church. They enjoyed spending Sundays with the kids. Their faithfulness has been an inspiration to Betty and me. 
On Thursday, Magda went home to be with her Lord. We will miss her. She loved to worship her Heavenly Father along with the fatherless! Nothing fancy. Just 60 or 70 orphans singing love songs to Jesus...sometimes accompanied by American visitors seeking to find a closer relationship with God. 
Thanks Magda for demonstrating that simple joy to all of us. Thank you God for allowing us to know Magda these past 2 years. We are blessed because of it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thank you New Life Garage Church

God has been moving and doing great things at Casa Hogar Douglas! In the past 15 months. He has brought 4 new couples to work and serve full-time with the 68 children that currently live in this children's home. Three of those couples have come in the last 3 months! We believe that all of this is nothing more than God's answer to many people's fervent prayers over much time. We rejoice with the angels over God's provision for these kids!
In September, we had a group serve with us from New Life Garage Church near Washington, D.C. They purchased food to stock the food pantry for 2 MONTHS! The pictures above are of the kids eating in the dining hall. They have been eating like kings! We are so blessed to be able to have the many supporters that we do and be able to provide for the needs of these kids! We want to send a big "thank you" out to New Life Garage Church for your faithfulness! And thank you God for using people like this to care for the needs of these kids!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Family Day at Casa Hogar Douglas

A couple of weeks ago, we had a special day at Casa Hogar Douglas. Sundays are typically visitation days for any relatives to visit the kids. It can be a very difficult day for everyone. We have been wanting to do more to minister to the families as well as the kids. So we decided to have what we called Family Day. We invited the visiting family members to come to church with us, eat dinner together afterwards and play some games where there were even prizes awarded. We had a visiting group that made it even better!
During the church service, we asked the family members to come forward and we prayed for them. During this time of prayer, many broke down in tears. It was a very moving time. I believe that many of these families love their children but they bring them to the children's home because they cannot properly care for them. We know that this decision is painful for everyone. We want to share the love of Christ with all of them.
At the end of the day, one young mom asked Betty if she had a Bible to give her. We were thrilled to be able to give her one. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Modern Mexico

I wanted to offer a little information about the country of Mexico. My desire is that you will be able to better understand the world in which we live and are called to serve. It is a country of extremes. Half of the country's 107 million people live in poverty. 15% of all Mexican children are orphans. The majority of those don't live in childrens' homes. They live on the streets. Mexico is home to both the world's richest man, Carlos Slim, whose fortune is estimated at about $53.5 billion, and about 20 million Mexicans who live on less than $3 per day. It is those 20 million that we are called to serve. Or, more specifically, the children of those.
Many times, in the news, we hear so much negative about Mexico. And it is true that there is a lot to do here. But I believe it is worth it. We can't just close our borders and forget those that are suffering. I want to thank those of you who support us in prayer and financially. You are helping us to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this needy place!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Betty's 2nd grade class

This school year, at Casa Hogar Douglas, we hired Marilin to be our full-time educational aide for the children. Betty has been helping her by tutoring the 2nd graders every afternoon. Above is a picture of Betty with some of her students. There is also a picture of Alexis with his first spelling quiz that he got a 95 on! He was very proud and Betty was very happy.
The program, that we have in place at Casa Hogar Douglas, is made possible because we have supporters. Many of these kids had trouble reading and writing. Without some type of help they would one day never be able to succeed in Back2Back's Hope Program, of higher education. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lots of progress at Rio 3!

I wanted to update everyone on the progress that we have had at Rio 3. It has been 4 months since Huricane Alex washed away over 100 homes and turned the church building into a 24 hour refuge for hundreds of people. With the help of many who gave towards our huricane relief fund, we have been able to put a roof on the new multi-purpose addition and pour a concrete floor. This will enable us to not only serve the community on a daily basis, but will also allow us to be better able to serve the people in the event of a future disaster. This building will eventually be the soup kitchen!
I always like to point out that I believe the ministry that Olga runs from this church building is being a light in a dark world. Now they will be able to bring light to darkness in even a bigger way. We are excited about what God is doing in Rio 3. We also give thanks to God for the generous support that so many of you give. Together we are making a difference.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Forever Changed

The picture above is of a couple from Michigan that visited us in March. They are 2 examples of people who came to love on God's children and went home forever changed. 
Beth used a lawn mower with 3 wheels to cut some tall grass at Casa Hogar Douglas while they were here. Take a minute to read the letter that she recently sent me about what God has done in their lives since then...

Hi Jim, 

You probably don't remember me, but my husband and I were in Monterrey in March with Riverview Church from Michigan. I've been thinking a lot about your ministry lately and praying for all of you with Back2Back. I was curious if you have any specific needs right now that you that could be helped with financial support, since we are unable to be there physically... We are expecting our first child in a few months now and know that we won't be able to get back to Monterrey for a little while. I've been thinking about things like your lawn mower with the broken wheel, and just curious what some of your needs may be and if maybe we could help. 

... I don't remember if you recall us having a conversation about Jason and I not being able to have children. We tried for a very frustrating 2 1/2 years and had seen specialists, and our chances of conceiving were low. It was affecting our marriage and our lives in a huge way, and was very emotional, especially for me. I had actually hoped that while on our mission trip I could get my mind off of it, but found myself struggling while there because of the irony of all the orphans without parents and my own agony of not having a child. Through prayer and tears while on that trip I had decided to let God take control of the situation and I had finally come to peace with either not having kids or the possibility of adoption. We were very surprised to find ourselves pregnant shortly after and according to the ultra sound the date of conception was the day after we got home, which doesn't make sense according to the doctors. It is obviously a God thing. It is also interesting because Jason got saved and baptized on that trip. Anyway, pretty crazy, just wanted to share that with you. 

Thanks for the blog, we really wish to stay involved with B2B and pray for all of you. 


What happened in the lives of Jason & Beth wasn't anything that Back2Back or any of our staff did. It was God who brought change to the lives of this young couple! I always enjoy stories like this. Sometimes the ones most effected are the ones that come to serve "the least of these." Praise God!
Beth & Jason want to help us buy a new lawn mower for the children's home. I know that everytime I start that mower, I'm going to remember what God has done in their lives.
God bless you Beth and Jason! (and your son you are expecting in December)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pancho & Alexis

Pancho & Alexis are the 2 oldest of 5 siblings that have lived at Casa Hogar Douglas for 3 years now. Pancho is 15 and Alexis is 13. The last grade in school that they have completed is second grade. They were far behind in school when they came to Douglas in 2007 and the home has not had the resources to help them get caught up.
But, this past week, Pancho & Alexis started classes in a special school that we found for them. Their teacher said that they are intelligent and that Pancho will be able to finish 6th grade this year and Alexis will finish the year after. Then we will be able to enroll them in a secondary school to further their education. This is something that both of them want very much and I have been promising them we would make it happen. 
The truth is though, that I don't think we could have done it without the help of our Shelter Program. Currently, we have over 25 kids, from Casa Hogar Douglas, sponsored in our child sponsorship program. This enables us to have the funds to help kids in special ways that we couldn't before. We can help buy better food for the kids to eat, pay for gas to run hot water heaters and take care of special education needs like this one.
I've been picking Pancho & Alexis up after school most days. Each day, they tell me how excited they are to be having this opportunity. I wish those of you who give sacrificially so that things like this can happen, would be able to witness the hope you are bringing to these kids' lives! That is why I want to share this good news with you.
Your giving is changing the future for many lives! THANK YOU!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What are we going to do about it?

As many of you know, I read The Hole in Our Gospel earlier this year. I have been called back to re-read portions of it from time to time. I believe it is an excellent book!
A thought that I've had lately is what do non-christians really think of the American Christian Church? With so many poor and hungry people in the world today, what does the world think of the church's response? I know many want to help the poor and feed the hungry. Do non-christians see the church as hypocritical or judgemental towards people who are not like them? Sadly, I'm afraid that's exactly what they see in us to often.
I'm reminded by something someone shared with me recently. God has provided the resources in this world so that NO ONE would be poor or hungry. He just didn't distribute the resources EVENLY. He left that job for us to do! What are we going to do about it?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A special party for Alondra

Alondra is a young girl that lives at Casa Hogar Douglas. When a young girl turns 15 here, it is the custom to throw a special party for her. What we are celebrating is that this young girl is now becoming a woman. Alondra turned 15 in August and we celebrated her special day on Sept. 4. The thought that I had during Alondra's special day was that there is probably not another girl that is more loved at this home than Alondra. She also has many from the U.S. who love her also. At 15, Alondra is already a young lady who is living her life with dignity and compassion for others. I'm excited for what God has in store in the future for this young lady!