Monday, May 2, 2016

Missionary Spotlight | The DeWitt Family

Meet Scott and Jonna DeWitt, their daughter Madison, and their son Mason. Scott came on staff in 2006 as the Director of Spiritual Outreach after serving as a youth minister in Illinois for twelve years. In 2014, he moved his family to Del Rio, Texas to serve as the Acuña Field Director.
INTERVIEW WITH SCOTT
1. Tell a little bit about yourself and where you're from.
  • I grew up in Southern Indiana, and my wife is from Western Pennsylvania. We met at Johnson University in Knoxville, TN and were married in 1992. We served in youth ministry together before we were married and knew that God had called us to a life of ministry. We were privileged to work with one part-time ministry in Kentucky and two full-time ministries in Illinois prior to our work with Casas por Cristo. Those experiences and people will forever be a part of our lives.
2. What made you choose to serve at Casas por Cristo?
  • We brought our youth group on several Casas trips. On one of these trips in 2005 our bus broke down. As a result, Jonna, Dave, one of our youth sponsors, and I stayed behind to get the bus fixed and to drive it home. At the time I had just joined the board and was getting more involved with Casas. I enjoyed the work and loved the people and mission of the ministry. We were able to spend a couple days with the Casas staff and later that summer were asked to consider coming to Casas as the Director of Spiritual Outreach. After speaking with mentors and praying lots, we knew this was an open door God had placed in our path, one we couldn't refuse no matter how hard it was to leave our church family in Illinois. We committed in September 2005 and through many gifts and prayers were able to move our family to El Paso the summer of 2006.
3. How have you seen God through your ministry at Casas por Cristo?
  • God continually amazes us everyday. The blessings and strength he has given us to be able to continue with Casas are amazing. It is not to say the devil hasn't worked hard to stop it, but our God has carried us through it all and continues to open doors for us to walk through. The opportunities that our family has to build with people and for families is a true blessing to us. Seeing the love of God poured into a home and a family fills our hearts to overflowing. Who else can say that they get to see God come alive in the people they serve?
4. What has been your biggest challenge so far?
  • Well, a challenge is something that is hard to overcome. We have to say challenges are there all the time. Being so far away from relatives, being away from the kids and Jonna, raising support, being weary and tired from weeks of consecutive builds, the weight of an entire department and now location on my shoulders are all challenges, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. These struggles have strengthened my love for God, family, and the ministry of serving others.
5. What are some things people can pray for on your behalf?
  • We covet prayers for strength, courage, and boldness to serve in the times we are weary or overcome with tiredness. We would love prayers for our family structure as our children are getting older and things are changing with teenagers that are involved in so much. Most of all, pray for people to come and serve with us to reach those that have physical needs and burdens.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Missionary Spotlight | The Kirklins

Meet Justin and Julie Kirklin, their son Eli, and their daughter Emily. Justin has faithfully filled many roles at Casas por Cristo since he came on staff in 2009. He currently serves as the Field Director of our newest location, the Dominican Republic.
INTERVIEW WITH JUSTIN
1. Tell a little bit about yourself and where you're from.
  • We are the Kirklins. We are from Michigan and have been privileged to serve with Casas por Cristo these last 8 years. Julie and I met in college and fell in love through missions trips with the college ministry that we attended. Julie used to lead half of the build process herself before the little ones arrived. Our son Eli loves to build like his daddy. Emily is already trying to speak Spanish. We love the Dominican Republic and all of the new friends and family we have made here.
2. What made you choose to serve at Casas por Cristo?
  • Our desire to bring hope to families in need and to kindle a fire for missions in others drew us to Casas. After participating in several trips to serve with Casas, and after I completed two summer internships, the Lord opened an opportunity for us to serve full time. It has been a wonderful ministry to be a part of, and we feel so blessed that God has given us such a gift in life.
3. How have you seen God through your ministry at Casas por Cristo?
  • First and most important, we have seen so many individuals and families come to faith in Jesus Christ through the opportunities our partnering pastors have had through building. More recently, we are part of a Dominican church that is in partnership with Casas and have been able to see the effect Casas has on a church participating in the program. Our church has doubled in size over the last year through the opportunities to share the love of God through the building of homes in our community. It's been amazing!
4. What has been your biggest challenge so far?
  • Adjusting to a new country and culture has been the biggest challenge. We learned quickly that the comforts, ease of life, and amenities we had in the US were a privilege, not a right. Things don't come as easy or comfortable as they used to, and there was an adjustment period for us. We are still learning and adjusting, but we are enjoying our Dominican life!
5. What are some things people can pray for on your behalf?
  • Pray for growth. There is a never ending amount of need here. The only thing standing in the way of meeting the need is the amount of groups we can get to come to meet those needs. Pray for more churches and groups to discover the opportunity to serve with Casas por Cristo and to find a home serving with us in the Dominican Republic.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Family Spotlight | Acuña, México


Meet Lorenzo, Luz, and their two children, Silvia and Ashley. Lorenzo works in one of the local factories and was doing all he could to provide a home and a life for his family. However, like so many, Lorenzo had lost all hope. He believed that he had failed at being a provider - that the life and home he had been able to provide for his family were not good enough. Lorenzo does not know the Lord. Because he felt like he had failed his family, he contemplated suicide just a few days before the materials for his new home were delivered. Thankfully he didn't go through with it, and Lorenzo is still with his family. 
While we were building the home, we were not aware of the events that had happened just days before we arrived, and honestly the family didn't let on to the real struggles they were having. We were aware that Luz believed in the Lord and Lorenzo did not. The team thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the family. On the day we were to dedicate the house, Silvia, Lorenzo and Luz's eleven year old daughter, asked if she could read a letter she wrote to the group. Below are the translated words she wrote.
Reading Silvia's Letter


Today began a new hope for my family. The day we received the material from Casas por Cristo was a very special day, one that offered new opportunities for my family to help us through the struggles of life. When we thought that all hope was lost, God opened doors that were not only full of blessing but also doors that contained you, our American brothers and sisters, who saw our need and out of your kindness filled us with blessings and hope to keep going despite life's difficulties. Above all, I am thankful for our heavenly Father who holds us in His hands, who fills us with hope and faith, and who protects us, guides us, and gives us hope when all seems lost.
Today I was talking with my friend. He told me not to worry because God is with us. If He gives the birds food and water, He will give us food and comfort, He will bring people around us, and He will hold us in His hands. God sees our needs and opens doors when we least expect it.
Today I am thankful to God and each one of you for every bit of help you provided. We are thankful for this house and that God saw the need we had and never stopped taking care of us.

Thanks to the generosity of teams and individuals like those who built for Lorenzo and his family, two of our pastors now have the opportunity to talk to and share with Lorenzo about God, faith, life, and the hope for him and his family that he can't find in the world.



Monday, March 21, 2016

Team Casas



WE ALL HAVE SOMETHING TO GIVE
Partner with other individuals to meet the physical need of better housing as a way of also meeting the spiritual need for Jesus Christ.

We need volunteers for the following Team Casas dates.

The deadline to schedule a trip is 30 days prior to each México trip and 60 days prior for trips to other locations. If the trip is scheduled, new registrations will be accepted until the trip takes place.

2016 Team Casas Schedule

MÉXICO
June 13 - 16 | Juárez
(scheduled; still accepting volunteers)
October 7 - 10 | Juárez
(at least 1 volunteer still needed by September 7)
December 27 - 30 | Acuña
(at least 14 volunteers still needed by November 27)
December 27 - 30 | Juárez
(at least 10 volunteers still needed by November 27)

GUATEMALA
June 19 - 24 | San Raymundo
(at least 9 volunteers still needed by April 19)
July 3 - 8 | San Raymundo
(at least volunteers still needed by May 3)
December 27, 2016 - January 1, 2017 | San Raymundo
(at least 14 volunteers still needed by October 27)

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
June 12 - 18 | Santiago
(at least volunteers still needed by April 12)
December 27, 2016 - January 2, 2017 | Santiago
(at least 16 volunteers still needed by October 27)



Team Casas February 2016
915.778.0046  |  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Family Spotlight | Juárez, México


Lorenza (center), her two daughters, and two of her granddaughters
   

Recently, a group of preachers (plus one contractor) from Southern Illinois drove for 24 hours straight both ways just to bless the Longoria family with a home in Juárez, México. The woman who applied for the home, Lorenza Longoria Pacheco, is a single 57 year old with many health issues. In fact, she has had three heart attacks, resulting in her being declared dead three times, and each time God has miraculously saved her life. Lorenza believes God wanted her to witness His provision for her family in the form of a Casas home, which is why He kept bringing her back to life.

Thankfully, she has four children, all of whom live nearby in Juárez, that can help take care of her. But for the most part, that responsibility falls on her youngest daughter, Evelin Evenecer Lopez Longoria. Evelin, age eighteen, and her husband Cesar, also age eighteen, live at home with Lorenza. Cesar works twelve hours a day at a local factory while Evelin cares for her mother full time. Lorenza gave Evelin the middle name Evenecer, Spanish for Ebenezer, because of its meaning: "stone of help." Lorenza sincerely believes that God knew she would be ill and need her daughter's help, which is why he led her to give Evelin that middle name. Lorenza, Evelin, and Cesar are all strong believers and attend a local church regularly. Lorenza's hope is to be able to walk into church on her own two feet again one day. For now, she must use a wheelchair.
Cesar & Evelin
The home Lorenza, Evelin, and Cesar had been sharing is a dilapidated structure with a leaky roof, dirt floor, and walls made of pallets and cardboard. The home has a large opening facing the "back yard," which is really more of a valley filled with trash. The look of joy on their faces at knowing they would now have a secure, safe, and warm place to call home was priceless. They continued to smile, cry tears of joy, and praise God for providing for them.

At the dedication the team laid hands on Lorenza and prayed for God to heal her body. But even if he chooses not to, we can take comfort in knowing that Lorenza knows God's goodness and her faith in Him will not be shaken. Lorenza loved the fact that her new home was built by a group of preachers. She said that made it an even bigger blessing.



Thank you to all of you who support the ministry of Casas por Cristo. It's because of your prayers and support that the lives of families like the Longorias are being changed. Not only are their physical needs being met, but their spirits are also being restored. Jesus in his ministry always combined both the physical and the spiritual when he healed people and then also forgave their sins. We hope that our ministry is doing the same as we meet the physical need for quality housing as a way of also meeting the spiritual need for Christ by connecting families with local churches and pastors.

Spring Break, our busiest time of year, is upon us. We are scheduled to build 76 homes this Spring Break ministry-wide. Please join us in prayer that God would move in the lives of the families, pastors, and volunteers that will be a part of these builds. We are blessed to be partnering with all of you to share and grow the name of the Lord in each location in which we work.




915.778.0046  |  questions@casasporcristo.org   casasporcristo.org



Monday, March 7, 2016

Summer Internship | An Opportunity to Serve & Give

WE NEED YOU
  • We are still searching for servant-hearted individuals who are willing to commit three months of their summer to building homes for families in need in México, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. We need eleven more interns to cover our summer projects. If you or someone you know would like to take the next step towards a summer of a lifetime, click on the links below.
  • We also need funds to help support our interns. Each intern must raise support to cover their expenses and the materials for the homes they will build. We are now utilizing a social media tool called Network for Good to accept donations and help spread the word. Give $25, $50, or $100 to the intern program now by clicking the donate button below.

915.778.0046 |  

Monday, February 29, 2016

Missionary Spotlight | The Laffan Family

Meet Jason and Amy Laffan and their boys, Jonas (8), Kash (4), and Titus (2). Jason has faithfully served in many roles at Casas since he came on staff in 2001. He currently serves as the Director of Operations in our El Paso headquarters and makes sure all of the ministry's administrative responsibilities are taken care of.
INTERVIEW WITH JASON
1. Tell a little bit about yourself and where you're from.
  • We are the Laffans, and we hail from Georgia. While our roots are in the south, our lives and hearts are here in El Paso. All three of our boys were born and raised (so far) in El Paso. We love to go to México and build homes. Amy can stucco a house with the best of them. Jonas loves Legos and building "his masterpieces." Kash has a collection of "guys" which includes almost every character a kid could want. Having two big brothers has helped Titus become the toughest two year old on the planet. One thing that all five of us agree on is our love for the beach and all things Disney.
2. What made you choose to serve at Casas por Cristo?
  • When I was young and full of energy the Lord used my interest of working with my hands and my desire to serve with a tangible and measurable purpose. I remember being in college and going to the National Missionary Convention in search of a ministry to serve at during the summer of 1999. It was clear at the end of the weekend that God had pointed me in the direction of Casas por Cristo, the ministry that I had first gone on a trip with in 1998.
3. How have you seen God through your ministry at Casas por Cristo?
  • I have seen more people cry tears of joy for what the Lord has done through giving them a home or through their act of giving a home to a family than I have of people crying for all other imaginable reasons combined. I believe that God's heart and eyes are on this ministry because of the fruit that comes from the international churches we serve, the American churches that volunteer, and the changed lives of everyone involved.
4. What has been your biggest challenge so far?
  • The biggest challenge has been leaving family and friends to move to El Paso. As our family has grown from just Amy and I with the additions of three little boys, it has been a huge challenge to be physically separated from people that we wish could be a part of our daily lives.
5. What are some things people can pray for on your behalf?
  • We would love prayer that God would use us to have a huge impact on His Kingdom for His glory. One of our prayers for our children every night is that they will be leaders and not followers. As we raise our boys we want them to be obedient to God's calling on their lives and be open to what He has planned for them.