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!