Monday, March 21, 2011

Turning the Tide

In every Great War there is often one battle that turns the tide. Waterloo, Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, Stalingrad…

It may not look like it, but AFE is at war here in Honduras. We wage war daily against the powers of darkness and the garbage dump culture to save these children’s lives. It sometimes seems hopeless in the beginning. Often, these children’s lives begin in a place of darkness and despair…like little Jose Dario in the nursery. His mother gritted her teeth then screamed him out of her, into the garbage-strewn shack which was their home. She suffered through the messy labor alone, except for her the company of her three other babies and toddlers (I can’t imagine the effect witnessing this struggle had on them). When Jose Dario was born, it was without a father and without an identity in the larger world. There was no record of his birth; in fact, there had never even been a record of his mother’s birth. He was born into a family entrenched with the garbage-dump life for generations.

Yet, we dare to dream for Jose Dario. Just as we have dreamed for countless others before him. As they progress through kindergarten and learn such basics as how to hold a pencil and say “good morning” to their teachers. As the children receive the priceless gift of literacy and begin to linger in the library, hoping for someone to read with them. As the children develop their self-esteem and friendships that will change their lives, we have dreamed for them. And you have
dreamed with them too.

Every time you came to visit from far away you would look a child in the eye and say, “See you at the University.” And AFE’s teachers crossed their fingers behind their backs and dared to believe that it was possible.

Today I am elated to announce that yes, it is possible, and in eight months we will see our dreams come true. Nine very intelligent, future leaders of society will graduate from AFE in December. They come from a community with no more than a third-grade education, a community that never dreamed of leaving the garbage dump. Yet, they will graduate high school and go on to college.

We would like to invite you to share our joy and God’s triumph on December 10th, when we watch nine young people graduate from AFE, and take their first step into the big world.

To RSVP for AFE’s first high school graduation, contact

To learn about how you can help send AFE children to college and help their dreams to come true, download: “See You at the University” (RIGHT), or simply go onto AFE’s website and give what you can toward a college scholarship.

Watch a video
with each of our nine champions sharing about this victory:

On behalf of everyone at AFE, thank you for joining us in this battle for the children’s lives, it is inspiring to see how deeply God loves them, so much so that he calls people from far away to make His plans a reality. Thank you for dreaming with us.

Rene Daniel Elvir Giron was the first child
Pastor Jeony rescued from the garbage dump.
Next year he will study engineering at a university in Tegucigalpa.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Tale of Two Communities

It is a little known fact that AFE is not an island in Honduras, an organization floating by itself, trying to rescue children from the garbage dump (with financial and prayer support in the United States). Although AFE came first, it is actually the social action project of a Honduran church, Amor y Vida.

When Jeony Ordonez received the vision for AFE, he was the mission leader at another Amor y Vida (“love and live”) church in a different part of Tegucigalpa. This Amor y Vida church was the mother church of four satellite churches planted throughout Honduras. One of Jeony’s mentors (and boss at the time), Michael Miller of the Micah Project, encouraged Jeony to plant a church to support AFE. This was Michael Miller’s advice because the ideal situation is for social action to launch out of a local church, and to be supported by a church.

Thus, five years ago with his senior pastor’s blessing and a seminary education under his belt, Jeony Ordonez moved from his middle-class neighborhood to the poor community of “Linda Miller” and began visiting families to start a church. Today, seven of AFE’s teachers come from “Amor y Vida” in the Miller. They found Christ in that church, underwent discipleship, and now are reaching out to children from the garbage dump. Pastor Jeony is smart. By himself, he can only reach so many children from the garbage dump. But if Jeony can reproduce his missionary-heart, he can reach so many more.

The Amor y Vida church in the Linda Miller community supplies AFE with teachers. It provides an avenue for AFE’s children to worship weekly, participate in Sunday School and youth group. It has planted one Bible-study group among garbage working families, and hopes to grow more.

Despite this excellent involvement in the garbage dump community, Pastor Jeony’s began to wonder, “Could this church do more?” Many of AFE’s children have been abandoned by their parents, face the danger of abuse by family members, and are in desperate need of substitute godly families. Legal adoption is hard in Honduras. What if the families of the Amor y Vida church in the Miller could fall in love with the children of AFE? What if they became substitute grandparents, uncles and aunts, maybe even fathers and mothers to the children who have no one?

For this reason, Pastor Jeony recently launched the campaign in the Amor y Vida church, “A Tale of Two Communities.” This campaign teaches about some of the needs in the world, and God’s call for the church to be an active agent of change. We are excited to see what comes out of it and how God moves in the Miller community. Will you pray for us?

Addendum: Last Sunday, in the continuing theme of Churches in Action, Pastor Jeony led a panel discussion to highlight what other communities are doing to reach their context. Volunteer Paul Sloan shared about his home church's efforts to reach the homeless in Waco: "Church Under the Bridge," and Rey Diaz shared about his home church's dream to "build the greatest caring network the world has ever seen." Follow the links to be inspire!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Selena's New Family

By Rey Diaz

We were created for community. God placed in all of us a deep desire to belong to a community. We long and even crave belonging. It’s why teenagers receive a beating for 60 seconds--coming within inches of death--to join a gang. Most of us get a sense of belonging from our families and group of friends. If we do not have that network of family friends, God has not left us high and dry. The church is God’s gift to us to who long for belonging and community.

Selena is a 16 year-old girl who does not have a mother or a father. Better put, her dad is a drug addict who lives on the streets. Selena’s mom left with her dad when she was a baby and has never spoken with Selena since. She was raised by her grandmother until last year when her grandmother became too elderly to care for a teenage girl. With nowhere else to go, Selena went to live with her aunt. But in the evenings she heard her aunt and uncle arguing about how hard it was to take her in and she felt like a burden.
Selena is an incredibly gifted public speaker. She is smart and motivated. Selena loves God but wonders why her life has been so hard. With tears in her eyes she told me that she trust God with all her heart but doesn’t understand what it means to be loved and wanted. AFE has been her only family.

Let me pause Selena’s story for a moment. In the meantime, and in another part of Honduras, an elderly couple watches the son they adopted off the streets graduate with a degree in Engineering. Their daughter is now a teacher at a private Christian school. The couple is Pastor Pedro Macion who leads a church in Catacamas with his wife Hermelinda. With both children grown up, the caring couple find themselves as empty-nesters with so much love left to give. They contacted Pastor Jeony with the proposition that if AFE ever needs a home for any student, they are available. They wanted to unofficially adopt a student who needs love and they would take on full responsibility (even financially) for their care.

So while Selena was in tears asking for someone to love her, God was preparing a family for that purpose. This Saturday, we drove Selena out to meet her new family. Selena was understandably very nervous. What if they didn’t “click”? What if she didn’t like them? Worse, what if they didn’t like her?
When Pastor Marcion first saw Selena, the words spilled out of his mouth: “My daughter. I have been waiting for you for so long.” He gave Selena a big hug and Selena began to cry again. This time the tears told a different story. These were tears of belonging and community. These tears spoke of grace, love, and God. Selena has been adopted into a family that will cherish her and make her feel like the blessing she is, instead of a burden.
One day, we who have placed our trust in Christ, will hear our heavenly father say “My child. I have been waiting for you for so long.”