Monday, May 16, 2016

Family Spotlight | San Raymundo, Guatemala

Macaria is a single mother with four children. Their lives before and after receiving a home are radically different. They used to live with her parents, all seven of them together in one room. It was a tiny structure with tin walls, a tin roof, and a dirt floor. Since they only owned one bed, the majority of them slept on the dirt floor. When it rained, the roof would leak and water would run under the tin walls, turning the dirt floor into mud. Macaria wanted a better life for her children, but with little income, it was difficult to provide. Like many people in Guatemala, Macaria made fireworks for a living. She worked roughly 40 hours/week to earn Q70, which is the equivalent of roughly $9, or $.23/hr.

Physically, it's easy to see why it was tough to make ends meet. And spiritually, it was not any better. Macaria was not a Christian. She never prayed. She never went to church. And her four children were following in her same footsteps. One of our pastors, Tomas Uyu, heard of her story and visited Macaria. He told her that she could apply to receive a home from Casas por Cristo. His hope was that Macaria and her kids would witness the love of Christ during the week while physically being blessed with the gift of a home. Macaria's father gifted her a piece of land to build on, and she said she felt a change in her heart after turning in the application. Although it was difficult to believe at first that a group of strangers were actually going to come build her family a home, she began praying and attending church with the pastor. Throughout the process, she continued to attend church and prayed everyday that a group would indeed come build her family a home. That was the first time she turned to Jesus and put her hope in Christ. 

University Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas then came and built Macaria and her family a home in Spring 2014. To this day, Macaria still struggles to put into words the impact the home has made on her and her children's lives. It was a new beginning. Physically, she now has a safe, secure place of her own to raise her four children. With a concrete floor and a roof that does not leak when it rains, they are able to sleep comfortably at night while their things stay dry. Spiritually, Macaria has accepted Christ and has been attending church ever since. She is now also a leader in her church and helps organize songs for worship. When you visit with Macaria, she will tell you that before she lived with her parents and had nothing, but now she has everything she has ever wanted. She has a home of her own, a roof over their heads, beds to sleep on, food to eat, a happy family, a sense of community, and most of all, hope. Because of their renewed hope, Macaria began selling fruit at the school her children attended. Through saving her profits of Q15-20/day, or $2-3/day, over the course of the past couple years, she was able to begin renting a place in San Raymundo and opened up her own store. She successfully sells tortillas, fruits, and vegetables and hopes to soon begin making and serving meals for people to dine-in and enjoy. Sometimes, all some people need is a jump-start. Through a group of believers stepping beyond the walls of their church and providing the free gift of a home, Macaria and her family witnessed love, received hope, and put their faith in Christ. Macaria now shines as a beacon of light and a testament of God's provision in the community while owning and operating her own business to provide a better life for her four children.
When asked about what she would like to share with potential or future groups, Macaria said the people of Guatemala need help. She feels deeply for families who are struggling, particularly single mothers with children, because she has walked in their shoes. She continuously reminds them to keep hoping and put their faith in Christ because God will provide for their needs like He did for hers. Macaria said, "Continue on, keep going, and God will provide you strength to keep serving. Thank you very much for helping the poor people, and if it were not for the group, my family and I would not be where we are now. I would instead be worrying about how to provide a safe, secure home for my children. I pray that you will continue to help the Guatemalan people and other families like mine."
915.778.0046  |  

Monday, May 9, 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
(scheduled; still accepting volunteers)
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
July 3 - 8 | San Raymundo
(scheduled; still accepting volunteers; only 1 more volunteer needed to add a 2nd house)
December 27, 2016 - January 1, 2017 | San Raymundo
(at least 12 volunteers still needed by October 27)

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



915.778.0046  |  



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