Christmas for Cien Fuegos

christmas3Sweet little faces represent the joy found behind the doors of Centro de Esperanza de Cien Fuegos. These lovely faces will more than likely see Christmas come and go without experiencing the happiness of the season if we don’t act now!10534552_10204136160265166_8507192425244290770_n

Remember that these precious ones live at the city’s trash dump. Their parents make very little money. They live under tin roofs with holes which cause rain to pour into their homes. The meal they eat at our center is the only meal that most of them will eat for the day. They bathe in a filthy river that is riddled with trash. The lives of these children are at risk just because they are poor.

But you can make a difference in their lives by a simple act of giving. A donation of $20 will give one child a gift and Christmas dinner for their family.

christmas1Twenty dollars transforms into smiles of joy. Twenty dollars transcends the unworthy mindset and lifts the child into the truth of who they truly are, children of the Most High God. Twenty dollars doesn’t seem like it’s so much when you know that H.O.P.E is attached to it. This H.O.P.E speaks into their destiny and tells them that really are loved. It tells them that they really are deserving of what is best and lovely.

Please click here to give today! 

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Our daughter Starr loving on a child at the center

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H.O.P.E for Cien Fuegos

10446665_10203864962445390_6713296812103593396_nEnglish camp certificate

Dirt roads ridden with potholes, a filthy river overcome with trash, no clean drinking water, prostitution, drug dealers, severe fungal infections, hunger and desperation are a few descriptions of Cien Fuegos.

10446514_10203923695073669_2533769362125263708_nDriving to church from Cien Fuegos

We drove some visiting pastors from the states through this territory a few weeks ago and my heart ached once again for the people who dwell there. The children were playing and bathing in the same river where others were throwing their trash.

We stopped by the house of a family that is a part of our center. The mom called her children in from the river where they were bathing. Their clothes were filthy! My heart sank.

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Since God has wondrously provided for us to purchase H.O.P.E Mountain, we were able to host various camps this summer for the children in our center. It was a joy to see them play in a clean river and a clean swimming pool. They laughed, prayed, learned English and most importantly experienced the love of our Heavenly Father!

10488308_10203980879023232_2305594565270336982_nMeal line at H.O.P.E Mountain

As this new year begins, please continue to give towards the Cien Fuegos H.O.P.E Center. We have over 90 children enrolled this year, classes began this week. We always need school supplies, white t-shirts for their uniforms, Spanish bibles and lots of prayer!

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This year will be the first year that we’ve demanded the parent’s participation. We are doing this in hopes to bring transformation to the entire family. Thus, Sunday morning church services begin at our center very soon and the Saturday evening bible study will continue. Parent’s have also been encouraged to work at the center during school hours during the week. Please pray for this new initiative as we aim to bring H.O.P.E to a place where much H.O.P.E is needed.

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HOPE to Cien Fuegos

“One hundred fires” is a great way to describe Cien Fuegos! The fire of pain that consumes the broken hearted flames throughout this community. The fire of poverty blazes within the homes and mindsets of its inhabitants. The fire of confused self worth and low standards spread like wildfires in this community.
What do you do with a populace of deteriorated hopes and dreams? How can we rebuild from the ashes of the many fires that have ravaged these hearts and minds?
The answers to these questions lie within the heart of our God. The fire of His Spirit reigns where we, His children, abide. The scorching of His sea of flames invades and overpowers the inferno that the enemy has drenched upon Cien Fuegos.
Our God is able to rescue each child at our center from the fires that engulf them. He is more than able to use His own FIRE to change the trajectory of Cien Fuegos and to use its own name against itself!
And He is using you and me to make it happen!
We must continue this course of igniting the charring of God’s HOPE within these children. We cannot back down in our pursuit to allow the FIRE of God to consume each of them. He is able and He will do this and more as long as He has willing vessels to do His bidding.
Please continue to join us. If you have not yet begun to support our center, please start today. We simply ask for a small gift of $16/month to keep each child at our center. In addition the $30/month, we need volunteers to teach English, art and music. We also need uniforms, school supplies and books.
Thank you for your support!292958_439970079374952_259074621_n

Carlitos

Precious children with soiled faces and shabby clothing gathered around our van as we pulled up in Cien Fuegos. “Pastor Ruben”, they called out as he waved hello.
In the midst of the small crowd of little ones stood Carlitos. “Carlitos,” called Pastor Ruben, “where have you been?” His eyes became misty as he rolled down the window. “I’ve missed you Carlitos. Where have you been?” His face glowed as he gazed upon this little one.
Carlitos was enrolled into our children’s center last year by an aunt. Ruben immediately bonded with him. Each morning he would sit in the corner with a sullen look on his face as the other children sang their morning devotional songs with the teacher.
His behavior concerned us all. “Carlitos gets angry everyday and wants to leave around 11 a.m.,” his teacher complained, “it is becoming difficult for me to keep my class in order because of his behavior!”
All of our hearts were overwhelmed. Why is Carlitos misbehaving so? We called our late center’s psychologist and explained his behavior. “I’ll be there in the morning,” she calmly responded.
The next morning as the psychologist and I walked in, Carlitos was once again the corner pouting. Carmen, our then psychologist, gently urged him from out of the corner. “Hello Carlitos, can we be friends?”
We were all shocked when he quickly responded to her. She asked the cook to give Carlitos a plate of food. His face lit up when he saw the plate before him. She urged him, “Sit and eat precious.” He ate.
As he ate, she asked him a few questions about his home. “My mom doesn’t love me, I’ve never seen her,” he blurted out with a mouth full of food.
After his meal, he was fine and was excused to his class. Carmen looked at us both and said, “If you really want to help these children, feed them breakfast upon arrival, then lunch before they leave. You’ll see, he will behave if has food to eat!” She was stern and decisive, “We need to speak with Carlitos’ aunt.”
At her command, we confronted the aunt. “Why does Carlos come to the center barefoot?”Carmen asked.
“We are too poor to buy him shoes,” she responded while starring at the ground.
“He is hungry every day and misbehaves because of his hunger. Why aren’t you feeding him?”

“We are too poor for food,” she responded with a smirk on her face. It was quite apparent she didn’t care much about Carlitos.
“Where are his parents?” Carmen wanted answers.
“His mom gave him to us; we are his father’s family. She didn’t want him, so she left him at the hospital. His father is in prison.”
At this point, our heats ached for Carlitos. His mom left him with people who chose not to give him better care and there was not much we could do about it.
We made it our business to ensure that Carlitos had shoes, clothes, food, an education and knowledge of our loving God. He was faithful to come to the center each day and his behavior improved tremendously as he was fed.
Towards the end of the school year, our center director, Isabel told us that Carlitos had not been coming to the center. He’d already missed more than two weeks!
After a home visit, we were even more overwhelmed by the fact that his grandmother would not allow him to attend the center because she needed him on the streets to hustle for her. She was unyielding in her commitment to keep him on the street. There was absolutely no desire in her to do what was best for Carlitos.
But now, weeks later, he is standing here before us. “Carlitos, where have you been?” Ruben asks once again.
He poked out his lips as he usually does before he speaks and tried his best to stand his four year old stature up like the eight year old he is. “My cousin Alex and I are living alone. My grandmother is dying and Alex’s mom is with her. We are alone,” he gazed at the ground.
“Have you eaten Carlitos?” Ruben remembered our late psychologist’s advice.
“No.”
“Where is your cousin?” At this point, all of our eyes were misty. How could this be happening to Carlitos on our watch?
Twelve year old Alex approached our van.
“Are you really living alone?”
“Yes.”
“How are you surviving?”
“We dig through trash.”
The ringworms all over each of their bodies reflect that reality.
We gave them money for food and asked a trusted neighbor to care for them as we needed time to devise a plan.
All I could think to do was pray. We wept and grieved over the reality that exists in Cien Fuegos and that reality was smacking us right in our face once again! Carlitos was ours, thus covered by Christ. Satan could not have him; we refused to let that happen.
We called on prayer warriors and asked for prayer. Carlitos needed a miracle and he needed one fast!
Two days later, as we walked into the center, a young dark skinned lady sat in a chair holding a baby. I smiled at her as I entered and kindly told her that registration wasn’t until next month.
“I’m not here for registration,” she was extremely nervous. I could see the shame all over her. “I’m here because I want my son.”
At that point, I knew that she was Carlitos’ mother. I pulled up a chair and asked her to tell me her story.
“I was only fourteen. I was so poor and his dad told me that his family would keep him. I thought that leaving him was the right thing to do, but look at him now,” she fought hard to hold back her tears, “I was faithful in the church when I was a little girl, but I turned away from God and found myself pregnant at fourteen. I was afraid, but now I am not that same person. I am better; please let me have my son.”
My heart fought the desire to hug her and to punch her all at the same time. “How dare she hurt precious Carlitos that way? How dare she leave him with abusers and allow him to suffer abandonment twice?” I thought.
“But she is her now Vicki,” I could hear the gentle voice of my Savior, “forgive her, tell her that she is forgiven. Tell her not to be ashamed. Tell her that she is free.”
I could never resist a nudge from my Master, so I chose to love her. I gave her his words and told her that everything would be okay.
I immediately asked Ruben, our center director and our new psychologist to each interview her. We all had to be sure that her story was true.
“I know this sounds strange,” she nervously explained, “but I had a dream two days ago that Carlitos’ grandmother was dying and that he was alone. I knew that he needed me so I prepared my belongings for the trip. My new husband encouraged me to go after my son. I was afraid, but I knew I had to come. Right after he told me to come, Carlitos’ aunt called me to tell me that his grandmother was dying and that he was alone.”
I stood in amazement because that was the same day that I had prayer warriors battling for Carlitos! We allowed her to stay at the center for the day. It was an emotional day for Carlitos and the rest of us. We knew that we wouldn’t see him at our center anymore. His mom lives in a small town that is over an hour away from the center.
After a play day at our mountain home with the other children from the center, Carlitos happily went home with his mom. She tenderly cared for him in our presence and her love for him is sincere.
We promised to visit as often as possible and to be sure that he is handling his new life well. He still needs much care and prayer.
As far his cousin Alex is concerned, we have not been able to find a permanent home for him. None of the orphanages that we called will take him because he is already twelve years old. We spoke with his mom and she says she doesn’t care about what happens to him.
He is temporarily living with a neighbor who attends our church and works in our ministry. Please continue to pray as the sad stories of Cien Fuegos seem to never end.
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One Child Transformed, An Entire Community Renewed

As we continue with the community renewal that God has called us to in Cien Fuegos, we are reminded of the power of the transformation of one life. Sometimes we get caught up in the masses and we forget that eternal transformation many times is achieved one person at a time.

As we trust God for the transformation of Cien Fuegos, we can take comfort in knowing that He was able to set the nation of Israel free through one child named David. He led the Israelite slaves to freedom through a baby named Moses. He brought His people back to Himself through a young boy named Josiah and He redeemed mankind through His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.

God is interested in the One, thus we strive to serve each child at our center on a one by one basis. We are excited to see the work of God in each of their lives.

Thank you for joining us on this mission of nourishing bodies and feeding their souls.

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H.O.P.E Endures

Many young ladies in Cien Fuegos are moving in with adult men and forfeiting their futures for a moment of pleasure. Our center has put an end to that cycle of crudeness and vexation in the lives of the youth at our center. We offer these young ladies a H.O.P.E that will endure. A H.O.P.E that never ceases to believe in them. H.O.P.E goes the distance to love them. H.O.P.E lives on in their lives when the world around them bids defeat. Though our work is not in vain, it takes courage to uphold the cause of these young people. This kind of daring audacity gives these children the firm resolution to live and to live well. God makes the difference in the lives of the children at our center.

We know that we can we truly strive to shine H.O.P.E within the darkness that invades Cien Fuegos as our God drives before us to banish the enemy that longs to envelope that place. We know that we don’t work in solitude as we fight against those forces in changing lives one day at a time.

Life change can take a lifetime. We are in this for the long run. Thank you for standing with us!

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Our Redeeming God

To redeem is to recover ownership by paying a specified sum.Image

Rahab was a prostitute. Most of us may say that we don´t relate to her, but we all do. Perhaps many of us have never sold our bodies, but we have bought into a lie. The same lies that drove Rahab to share her bed with many is the same lie many of us believe today. We may think that we are not precious enough or good enough. We have each held on to a lie at some point in life and we have allowed that lie to tell how how to live.

God´s love redeemed Rahab. She had a defining moment in her life. Joshua 2:9-11 shows us where she stood, ““I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” She recognized God’s power and she didn’t let her bad choices decide whether or not she was going to believe in Him. She realized that there was only one way out and it was with God! Joshua 6:22-25 shares her deliverance, “Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, ‘Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.’ So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.”

Matthew 1:5 tells us who she becomes “ Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse,” She becomes the mother of Boaz. Perhaps Boaz’s heart towards Rugh had everything to do with the fact that his mother was also a foreigner. God’s love redeems!

For those who don’t know how the story ends, this ex-prostitute is listed amongst the great men  of  faith in Hebrews 11:30 “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” She also becomes a great-grandmother of Jesus Christ! Yes, a reject from society is in the lineage of our Savior!

You see, God knew her destiny from the beginning and being a prostitute wasn’t going to stop God’s plan for her life because she chose to believe Him instead of the lie.

Her son was able to redeem Ruth because he grew up under the care of a mother who knew and experienced the redeeming love of God. What are you teaching your children?

God has given us an awesome opportunity to redeem the lives of many children in Cien Fuegos. His love for them draws us to that dark place and keeps us there.

The sweet children in that place are also the rejects of Santiago, but they are accepted in God’s loving arms. He embraces each of them. He draws them, He calls them by name and He molds them into His image.

He creates His masterpiece in them through us. Each of us has played a significant part in the redemption of their lives. God has used you and us to shape His anointing into the broken hearts and lives of those that He has set apart.

It is an honor and privilege to know that we are looking at lives that are transforming each day! Praise God for His power to redeem. Thanks to you for your obedience to give and to pray!

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An Education for the Children at our Center

In our efforts to ensure that each child in our center attends school, we drove through the dirt roads and alongside the dirty river where some of  them  bathe to visit with their mothers. We were shocked to hear that the local school district would not allow their children to attend school. As each mom told us their stories, I could not ignore the holes in their roofs. What happens to these children when it rains? My eyes wandered to the naked little boy running around in the midst of germs as if he had no cares in the world. I couldn’t help but notice the looks of despair as neighbors began to flock around us in hopes to be heard. “Will you please open a center over here too?”, they asked. “No one cares about those of us out here,” one mom griped, “how will we do better if no one is willing to come out here to teach us?” I must admit that my heart ached as I realized that these precious children walk such a long distance to our center each day and knowing that I sat in the back seat of a comfortable vehicle to arrive to their location.
“I can’t make any promises,” I told them, “it takes a lot to run a center, but I will do my best to get your children in school.”
I went home that day with new resolve. If a child attends the Cien Fuegos HOPE Center, they will also attend school!
I made this astonishing announcement to my husband as we settled in for the night. He agreed, “I will do everything I can for them honey, that’s why we are here.” I rested comfortably that night knowing that God was at work and that He would go before us as we did our best to defend the poor.
A few days later, my precious husband, our center’s psychologist, and the parents headed to the local schools in their district.
“These children are residents of this district, yet were not allowed to attend school,” the psychologist demanded, “they need an education!”
The school principal shook her head and told them that there was no room, the school was overcrowded and they absolutely had no place to put them.
My husband gently responded, “If they don’t receive an education, what will become of them? Look at their surroundings, if they can’t come here, where will they go?” He continued, “If you accept them, I promise that our center will be sure to help them complete all homework assignments and keep them up to date. I am here to serve you as well, how can our center help you?”
The principal smiled and accepted the children.
Each school in the district accepted our unschooled children that day! We are happy to say that all but one child in our center is now enrolled in school.  Students attend school for a half day in the Dominican Republic, the other half of their day is spent at our center.
WE ARE EXTREMELY GRATEFUL TO GOD FOR THIS VICTORY BECAUSE THERE ARE STILL MANY UNSCHOOLED CHILDREN IN CIEN FUEGOS.
Thank you for your support!

Lives Transformed

As we walked through Cien Fuegos a few nights ago, my heart was heavy for the people in our midst. I can’t help but to love them. They are precious souls simply searching for the truth. It brings us much satisfaction and joy to know that we posses what they are longing.
It was such fun to give the children a party this summer! Their eyes were bright as they were allowed to eat large pieces of cake and chocolate candy! The sad reality is that many of them never had cake before! They were very grateful for the sweets and for the fun!
Your $30/month is making a difference in these lives. As these children’s lives are transformed, their community will be transformed. You are making an investment into lives and God honors that kind of investment. Thank you!
The children had a great time at both camps this summer, but it is now time to re-open the daily doors of our center. Please pray as we make transitions with our staff and as we pursue a larger facility.
Remember that you are greatly appreciated and you are transforming lives!

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