We have been blessed to have an incredible young lady serving with us for a season. I wanted to share her latest blog. It is below. I love to see how God works through others and seeing my boys through their eyes. Please take the time to read Marie Miller's blog which is copied below:
Breaking chains, breaking hearts, and break throughs.
My heart is both full of joy and breaking to pieces this past week. As I spend more time with the boys, they're opening up to me and I'm able to see more clearly what they struggle with now, and how their painful pasts play a role in the way they think and understand things. But before I dive into that, here's a picture of the boys & their friends playing soccer on the beach! 95 degrees and no rain this weekend!
Playa at La Casa de Ninos
I don't even know where to begin. There is SO much to say, most of which I don't even know how to put into words even if I had the time to write it all down.
I post pictures of me and the boys like this one below, and I know everyone has the impression that I'm
teaching and helping take care of 6 Honduran foster kids (the 7th boy is the oldest & is really independent & has his own responsibilites). And this is true--they are foster kids that my friend Lisa is raising and I am living with them and coming along side her to love them and help them grow both spiritually & in their education.
And they have so much LOVE in their hearts for both me and Lisa. I am always greeted with a hug good morning & good night from them and countless hugs or someone snuggled up next to me while I read, etc constantly during the day. And they LOVE to learn more about God and are excited to read the Bible aloud during our twice daily scripture time. Hearing them read the Word moves me in a way I can't even explain. The Holy Spirit is alive and working in this home and I can hear it in their voices and see it in their eyes.
But everything is not so "happy go lucky" around here all the time. These children come from homes (or the street/dump in La Ceiba) having grown up in a childhood saturated with abuse, drugs, alcohol, gangs, violence, being threatened, and some of them in near-death situations more than once. These children are all between the ages of 11 and 15 years old.
I haven't really gone into detail about any of the boys' stories yet, because I wasn't quite sure what to share, or how to explain it after I shared it.
Below is a video that another woman my age made after her time here about a year and a half ago with the boys. Please do watch the video, but know before watching it that it's not easy to hear Melvin's story, and it is especially heartbreaking to know that he is not the only one who grew up enduring what he has.
Melvin's story is just that--HIS story. Each child here comes from an equally heartbreaking past and has different struggles and brokenness because of it. Melvin's brother Jose, like the end of the video said, was stabbed over 35 times by a complete stranger because a guard ordered the druggie to kill him, after hearing who he was and the crimes he was involved in. Jose did not know either man involved in this. He was literally walking down the street in the middle of the day when this happened. Long story short, Jose was left lying there to die in the street, lying in a pool of his own blood, but God rescued him and an ambulance just happened to be parked around the corner when he stumbled down the block & was then rushed to the hospital. This is especially moving because the healthcare system here is very inefficient and you almost never see an ambulance, so the fact that there just so happened to be one around the corner is truly a miracle.
Each of the 6 boys I'm here with have a different story. A different past. A different pain. But they are loved by the same powerful God that sought them out and pulled them out of the ditch (literally), a horror-movie status abusive home, a garbage dump (literally), a community run by gangs instead of law enforcement, and one boy out of a life that was completely dependent on cocaine and would do anything for it.
God did not forget about them. These are not just some statistic numbers on a world map. These are His children, and He fights for their lives. He cares for them. He provides for them. And even when they turn away (or run away from Lisa's house...) He protects them.
Just this past week, four of the 6 boys said they were running away and packed bags to go because something trivial upset them. And unfortunately, that is the response of many Honduran men here. They leave when they are upset--many Honduran men have a wife and a few kids and one day decide they've had enough, and leave. Not long after, they've met someone new and started a new family wanting to have nothing to do with their original wife & kids. And these boys see that everywhere. Some of them are that "first family".
God is molding and shaping their hearts and minds into something more beautiful every day. And when they make crazy decisions, say ugly things, and act out in anger or violence--God brings them back. He somehow uses Lisa and I to show them grace after they've chosen something extremely harmful to themselves or to others. And although the hurt and the anger happens, the grace overflows and overwhelms it, no matter how extreme or how deep the wound is.
One of my best friends referred to Lisa's boys as "the lost boys" one time when I asked her to pray for my trip while I was figuring out the details of getting ready to go to Honduras. (And yes, this is a Peter Pan reference to these kids growing up on the street without any parents & could literally do whatever they want, especially since they weren't in school.)
And today I'm reminded of how perfect that is--they were lost. Forgotten. Neglected. In the spiritually darkest areas of one of the most dangerous cities, in THE most violent country in the world.
And their Father searched for them, sought them out--to find them.
They are found.
They are no longer the "lost boys". They are children who have come home & know their true Father. The Father that will never leave them or move on from them. He is here to stay with them.
They are found.
Please pray for their hearts and minds to continue to heal & grow stronger in their faith and love for everything that is good, and not be drawn back into the unhealthy life they used to have that still has a power over them sometimes. It is incredible how strong the pull can be to something they know is unhealthy and incredibly dangerous--and yet the enemy uses this and twists it in their minds to make it tempting to go back.
People talk about "spiritual battles" or "spiritual warfare" in church. And it's one thing to learn about it or talk about the idea of it.
But it is another to feel it. And to see it right in front of you.
We went to church last Sunday night and it was me, Lisa and all seven boys sitting in the refreshingly cool (70 degrees maybe?) night time service at a church a few minutes away from our house. Churches here are kind of built like a simple, big open square with cement floor and windows without glass, but just metal bars in the window to keep people from robbing or vandalizing. Which means if someone is outside the window, you can hear their entire conversation because there's no glass--it's like there's an open door there. Now that you've got a mental picture, back to my thoughts on spiritual warfare.
As I'm listening to the sermon, I feel like someone is watching me. And I shake it off & think I'm just being paranoid. But then I look to my right and see three men standing outside, just standing there. Not saying anything--but just looking at me. And I realize there are more men creeping in the shadowy window, some drunk and some not, just standing there. Looking at people and making comments that I luckily didn't hear what they said. The windows are close enough to the rows of seats that they are two feet away from the person at the end of the row while they stand there. And this is a small town--everyone knows everyone!! Everyone here knows who I am, and I know almost no one in Balfate (most of my friends live in La Quinta just down the road), since the second day I go here. These men have absolutely no problem with creeping on women and making very crude comments about them, WHILE the pastor is preaching to the congregation. Once I noticed them, I didn't look back that direction for the rest of church, so they didn't think I noticed or was encouraging them. Just like the men in the streets--just keep walking and don't acknowledge them as they try to get your attention. But we were in a church, not the street. (Side note--there's not always people creepin in the windows, but it's also not uncommon for them to be there.) And I saw the spiritual warfare in a new light (which seems to be a continual pattern recently. God is doing big things in my heart this week!! He is so good. :) ) These people are gathered in this place to learn about and worship God, and they are literally surrounded by evil. Evil thoughts, suggestive comments, inappropriate actions, and basically people mocking the fact they're holding a church service by them even doing these inappropriate things. And even though I felt we were surrounded by darkness, I also believe we were covered in light and the church was filled by God's power, His presence, and His protection.
He is here.
Honduras is not just the most dangerous country in the world right now, but I believe it is also one of the most spiritually darkest places too. Which means when God works here, He shines.
And he makes waves and shakes the sickly foundation this country has built itself upon. One person at a time.
Tomorrow I'm going with Lisa to the dump in Ceiba. Please pray for our safety and that God would use us to continue to break the bonds of the suffering, violence, and drugs in that area.
As some of you might have seen in the media lately, Honduras is a very unstable country right now. And that is an incredible understatement of the reality of how bad it is here. My next blog post will be about the upcoming election on Sunday (PLEASE KEEP THIS IN YOUR PRAYERS--IT IS CRUCIAL FOR THE INSTABILITY OF THIS COUNTRY AS A WHOLE), and the drug/gangs that are more powerful than the police force at this point.
To see Marie's entire blog, click here:
Friday, November 8, 2013
The word transition continues to be a huge part of my life right now. There are so many changes taking place almost on a daily basis that I can hardly keep up. I have found myself on this narrow path that He has led me to and is leading me through. The world may not understand this road but deep in my heart I am sure that I am right where He placed me. How can any of us know that we are on the right road? Peace. There is a peace that passes all understanding and that’s where I am. I find myself in a place of complete awe in the Lord and all that He is doing around me and in a place of full reliance on Him.
So what has God been up to in this little part of the world? A lot. Most of you know my heart for children and youth. In a country were 37% of the population is under the age of 14…I see why God chose to place me smack down in the nation of Honduras. A nation that statistically is the most violent in all of the world. A nation where corruption, gangs, and drugs are prevalent.
I am still serving full time with Hospital Loma de Luz. God opened the door for me to step out of the role in hospital administration and enabled me to continue in the job I originally came to the field to do, that of visitor coordinator. I have other duties within the hospital as well, but this is my main task.
The dump ministry continues to grow and transition as well. Right now I am doing a whole lot of wound care. Not being a medical professional this has been a bit challenging with some of the children and adults who come to me. Infected insect bites, gun shot wounds, and even a heel that was barely hanging on to the foot are just some of the things that have had to be treated from my bag of donated over the counter medical supplies. God quickly graced me with the ability to see things that in the past would cause me to pass out. Loving people by touching their physical needs has opened the door to strong relationships and even more so has opened up their hearts to Jesus. I am so thankful to continue to be a part of the lives of the people who live in this community built around the garbage dump. In the midst of the trash, stench, and dirt is God’s heart.
From the ministry in the garbage dump, God began to stir my heart towards the adolescent boys who are growing up and making bad decisions to join a gang. One was even a pastor’s son! One day this pastor’s son began to cry as I ministered to him about bad choices he was making. Through his tears he asked me to help him. He was willing to change but would have to leave the dump in order to get away from the gang. I had no answers. I could find nowhere, no one to take him in. Most facilities are full and have waiting lists. I kept coming across the same thing. Another young man from the dump somehow got my cell phone number and would call me desperately seeking help to get away and out from under the gang….and I again felt helpless. God began to stir my heart to do something for these wasted and broken lives.
God began to clearly define things in my heart and at the time I just really didn’t understand it or know what it was for. He kept reiterating to me, rescue, restore, reconcile. Over the years the picture became clearer. This was what God was calling me to do. This was His will for my life and for what He clearly designed me for. I could see how God shaped me and prepared me for what is ahead of me….even in some of the most difficult places of my life.
It started with a ten year old boy named Carlos. He showed up at the dump. He was sleeping in cars and porches. Adults and children would come to me and say he was abandoned and that I should help him. I would try to talk to him but he would run away. One day I saw him standing in the door of a child molester (in the dump). I yelled to him from my truck. I told him that I was going to the mall to eat lunch and invited him to go along with me. He jumped right up into my truck and off we went. I heard his story. I did what any Christian or any person would do for that matter. I took him home with me. Of course I was told that I couldn’t keep him and that I would have to take him to child welfare. I really didn’t know what to think about that, but it sounded like the right thing to do. So, with a bit of a heavy heart, I took him to child welfare. Long story short, child welfare without my even realizing it at the time made me a foster mother and placed him in my custody. Most things like becoming a foster mother within child welfare in Honduras takes a lot of red tape and is a long process. I was a bit surprised by what God did but was so thankful.
Not long after receiving Carlos I met a wonderful young lady who works with street children in the city of La Ceiba. Through her ministry efforts, I received my next two boys who were both street children. A friend of mine called me some months later telling me about a street child she had met and took home….but her husband wouldn’t let her keep him. She asked me if I would consider taking him in. I kind of halfheartedly told her that I would come meet him. I did and knew the minute I laid eyes on him that I was supposed to take him. More similar stories such as this, two years later, and I find myself today with 8 boys….8 boys that God went walking through the highways and byways and found. Because of His great love for them, He rescued them. He has restored them and reconciled them to Himself. I can clearly see the plans He has for their lives. I can see their giftings and His calling for each of their lives. I am overwhelmed at how they were all discarded and given up on and how encouragement, love, and hope have transformed their lives. My boys are between the ages of 11 and 17. Most are in the first and second grade as they never have been to school. Five minutes ago, I had four little boys at my feet excitedly telling me that they have passed to the second or third grade. Hallelujah!
With no extra support of any kind, my boys and I live on the financial support I receive from my friends, my family, and about 3 local churches. Child welfare here in Honduras has not and does not offer financial support to me. I do not see and cannot fathom how we are financially making it. My food bill jumped to $1,000 per month. My electric bill has tripled. My washing machine and dryer have broken down due to the sheer capacity of laundry to be done. All of this is a testimony of God’s provision. His heart is so towards the broken, the poor, and the orphan. His word is also full of promises to those who love and serve these that are close to His heart. I have witnesses it and my life is living proof of this. We have never missed a meal and somehow make it month after month.
Even more proof of God’s provision is the 40 or so acres of land He has given us. Yes…given us….free. With all of these things God began to stir in my heart, there was this vision of a farm. A farm that was supposed to help teach the boys responsibility, provide food for our home, and to help the boys with inner healing. God over and abundantly brought this to us. We were given clear title to the land even after we were told that the title could not be put in my name. We have miraculously seen God knock down or solve every obstacle that has stood before us with regards to this land. And, He continues with His provision. My home church graciously is helping us with the first project of getting a proper road constructed from the main road up to the property which is about 1 km up a steep mountain. The road work is going on right now. I do not have words to adequately express what my eyes behold when I see all that He is doing. It is just that….it is what He is doing….not my will….not my plans….certainly not my intellect…it’s all Him. I am completely undone by His love, by His heart, and by His provision. I am so humbled to be a part of these little lives that He has placed in my home and so humbled to have a front row seat to their transition and transformation.
So….this is just the short version of what has been happening. I hope to soon introduce to you each of my boys and tell you a bit of where they have come from. I post almost daily on Facebook. If you would like to keep up with us on Facebook, my screen name is Lisa Graham Bradley. I have a blog that I am trying to update more frequently. It is www.lbradleyinhonduras.blogspot.com. You can email me with questions or suggestions any time, firstname.lastname@example.org and should you want to attempt to skype, my screen name is jlisabradley.
I am eternally grateful to all of you who have walked out this calling to the nation of Honduras with me over the years and who still continue to walk it out day by day. Blessings upon blessings to each of you.
How you can help:
*Pray for open hearts to God’s working in each of our lives
*Pray for LOVE to continue to be lived out here among each of us….even on the hard days.
*Pray that God’s light would continue to shine brighter and brighter here in Honduras
*We need help in the area of construction. Even if you could advise from a far…..It would be a huge help.
*We need house parents and/or house moms. The vision is for small family homes on our compound with a mom or a couple leading and loving each small group of boys.
*Agricultural help-We have cocoa trees, mahogany trees, pineapples, oranges, lemons, avocados, bananas, and more. A young farm just starting to produce. Again, even if you could advise from a far it would be a great help.
*Tutors-Since my children are older and in elementary grades, we really need help tutoring. We tutored two of our boys so well that they both were bumped up a year in school!
*Administration-We need organizational and administrative help as we are just starting out and there is much to document and keep in order with running a farm.
*It will take $26,600 to bring electricity up to the home site.
*I am still working on obtaining more quotes but it will likely take the same or a little less to finish the house that has already been partially constructed.
*I have two wonderful farm workers that came with the land. Their salaries are $3,828 each (I have two at present) per year. These men are from way up in the mountain above our property. They are humble and already very protective of us.
*I have two Honduran women who help me with cooking and cleaning for the boys and their salaries are $200 per month.
*Food for my 8 boys is currently costing $1,000 per month.
If you are able to make even a small donation to the needs of Bethesda Home for Boys, your gift would be greatly appreciated and utilized to offer a better life for a child who previously had no opportunities in life. Donations should be made payable to and sent to:
International Gospel Outreach
PO Box 1008
Semmes, AL 36575
Be sure to include a note stating that your gift is for Bethesda Home for Boys-Honduras. IGO gives 100% of your donation to us and you will receive a receipt for tax purposes.