Peppers of the Earth~Kyle Murray

This week’s ROOM contributor is Kyle Murray, Honduras Country C0-Director with his wife, Cassie Murray. Together, Kyle and Cassie have helped build programs in Costa Rica as well as Honduras. Kyle usually leaves all the communicating to Cassie (herehere ), but we are all excited when he shares his heart and wisdom with us! 

 

10167932_323382237815856_8909436198555441716_nIn the past few years I have come to enjoy spicy foods.  The months leading up to our journey to Central America I ate a lot of Mexican dishes and tried spicy foods at many of the restaurants we visited.  At home, I would add jalapenos and habaneros to our family dinners.

When we arrived in Costa Rica the first night we had to travel an additional 4 hours to our hotel. Our driver stopped for dinner at a “soda”(local Costa Rican restaurant) for some “comida tipica” (typical food).  This would be the equivalent of showing up in Philadelphia and going to a cheese steak place or arriving in New Orleans and going straight to Bourbon Street.

We were definitely out of place.

We chose a few items at the cafeteria-style counter and we ate.  The food wasn’t bad, but there was one thing missing: flavor.  Each day we tried new things, went to a few restaurants,  and never once had anything spicy or flavorful.  We even went to a Mexican restaurant in a bigger city close to San Jose while visiting an orphanage, yet somehow the food still tasted like “comida tipica.”

Was there some kind of conspiracy going on?  Would the Japanese restaurant taste like typical Costa Rican cuisine as well?

I question whether it was a choice the restaurants were making, or a matter of necessity.  Is it possible that adding flavor would turn people away?  Would people be able to handle a sudden dive into jalapenos and habaneros?

11737988_972429552799733_5356095847318914856_nSometimes our mission field is only able to accept and receive those things of which of which they are accustomed or with which they are comfortable.  Whether you are dealing with babies, teenagers, senior citizens, this is your challenge as a Christian.  We are the salt of the Earth.  We cant go around Honduras, the U.S., or Africa handing out spices and flavor to every person and trying to make people change something that is ingrained in their lives.  It is our job to reflect Christ and slowly expose the love of Christ and the word of God, which is so full of flavor and spices.  Our daily walk has so much more to gain than monotonous habit.  Sometimes we confuse our Christian culture with true flavor of Christ. In your life right now, there are people that need to have the flavor of Christ in their life.  They need you to love them.  They don’t need to be smothered with Christian culture, but they need to build a slow trust and see that you are living how the Bible tells us to live.  They need to see you loving others, helping others, taking care of your parents, helping out someone having financial difficulties, holding babies and then it will not take long before they will crave this flavor and this kind of life.10665746_10101392881251898_6680413589207251940_n Once they have a taste of the true Salt, the Holy Spirit will fill this void and they will never want to go back to the food that they were accustomed to for so long.

This is not an easy process.  Some 1509255_10153165430885148_1596907395014046872_ndays it seems so much easier to just eat what the locals eat and get through the day, but God did not put us here to remain lukewarm.  He did not equip us with the fruits of the spirit to go through the motions day in and day out.  It is hard work, but try to start adding some Christ-like flavor to your day and it won’t be long before you can go full jalapeno.

No matter where you are, people will notice, people will react, and God will be pleased with your flavor experimentation.  We are the peppers of the Earth.

To contribute to the Murray family’s work please visit their Razoo page or send a check to Reach Out Orphanage Ministries • P.O. Box 5882, Concord, NC 28027 with Murray Family in the memo line. 

 

 

 

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Two Years of Transformation

This week’s ROOM contributor is Ali, our Country Director of Reach Out Orphanage Ministries’ programs in India. Ali advocates passionately for the children of India through her leadership of ROOM India’s Orphanage Care program, and through the day care center she started.  This day care program has prevented many children from being abandoned by empowering parents to provide for their families.  We are so thankful for her heart that so brightly shines the light of Christ! You have heard from Ali here.
I used to pray on a daily basis that God would break my heart for what breaks His.  I didn’t quite know what I was asking when I prayed this, but I knew I didn’t want to remain idle.  I wanted my heart to break so much that my hands and feet had no option but to move in response.  This prayer is the reason I moved to India. While living at Bethel Children’s Home in Orissa, India, God answered this prayer in ways I never would have dreamed.
A few minutes walk from Bethel’s Campus is a small slum area, Tikerapada, that is home to over 1,500 people.  For the first few months, I was not allowed to visit this area because it is unsafe.  In Tikerpada, theft, domestic violence, assault, prostitution, child labor, Christian persecution, idol worship, and many other dangerous activities are common.  Within weeks of living at Bethel, my heart became deeply burdened and broken for the people of Tikerpada.
1st day of the BDDC
I would spend hours each week on our rooftop in intercessory prayer for these people, begging the Lord for their salvation and asking Him what He wanted me to see and do.

I asked lots of questions.  I researched.  I prayed for insight from the Lord.  Through this, I began to understand that at the age of 5 many children in this village would become “orphans” as their parents sent them away to local orphanages to receive an education and good nutrition.  This left a huge gap for children between the ages of 2 and 5. These children, at such a young age, would be roaming the dangerous streets alone while their parents tried to earn a living.  It was with this understanding that I began to ask permission, and later, be allowed to spend time in Tikerapada.  Over time, I built relationships with many families there.  Through those relationships, I began to understand the need for a safe place for young children to go during the day.

With the burden and vision to “Develop and holistically transform entire villages through educating and equipping children and parents,” and with my desire to see Tikerapada know the love of Jesus, I launched the Bethel Day Care Center in January 2014.  Looking back at this time, I realize how crazy I was:  At 20 years old, I jumped all in and took on full responsibility for 70 children and their families.  I didn’t quite know what I was doing or how in the world I would come up with $1,000+ each month, but I trusted with all of my heart that the Lord would provide for these children, and that is exactly what He has done. 

Looking bacbethel day care center beginningk at the start of Bethel Day Care Center, I have tears streaming down my face as I reflect on what the Lord has made possible.   He has taken 70 children who were headed towards life in an orphanage or on the streets, and has given them a true hope for the future and the knowledge of eternal life.  A village that I once was not even allowed near is now a place where I feel safe, welcomed, and loved. This dangerous village is slowly becoming a safer home for each child as the Lord continues to transform not only the hearts of children, but of entire families.

Today I celebrate the ways that our good, good Father responds to the cries of our hearts and the ways He moves mountains so those who are lost can come to know His love.  Today I celebrate the lives that have been transformed over the last two years and I celebrate the fact that there are still greater things to come.    Please continue to pray with me that each family would accept Jesus Christ as their savior, that the cycle of poverty would be broken within this generation, and that lives would continue to be transformed for His glory!

BDCC Today

If you are interested in financially supporting ROOM’s programs in India please visit http://makeroom.org/donate.php to make an online donation, or mail a check to P.O. Box 5882, Concord, NC 28027.  We are thankful for your continued support!

A Season of New ~ Joey Weed


This week’s contributor is Joey Weed, one of the newest missionaries to join our ROOM Honduras family. We are so thankful for the significant impacts the Weed family is making to our Orphanage Care programs, the respite care they are providing to our missionaries and Transition Homes, and the work they are doing to help develop our orphan prevention program in Honduras.  To read more from the Weed family, check out Kellie’s previous post here or visit their blog here.
A new year brings on new territory for most. New commitments, new schedules, new diets, etc… For us, it’s continuing with all the new things we have already been experiencing. Some are good, some bad, some tough, some easy, but most definitely, all are necessary. It’s not always easy when God is shaping and molding your heart. It’s painful at times. It’s not always easy to walk through moments of life that tend to knock you down before you even see them coming. It’s not always easy to completely surrender your all to Him day after day. There are times when you just want to sit back and feel sorry for yourself. It’s sometimes easy to get lost in all the things that aren’t going your way and to throw a pity party. But sitting back isn’t going to be an option. For us there will be no retreats, no quitting, no giving in to the enemy’s lies that seem to nag at us and try to tear us apart. We’re in this for long haul and we will be victorious (Deuteronomy 20:4)!
The past two months have been bittersweet in many different ways. There have been many goodbyes, many tears (good and bad), new friendships, new obstacles and new feelings. God never once told us that this journey would be easy. In fact, He told us just the opposite (John 16:33). When we said “yes” to serving as ROOM Missionaries in Honduras, we knew that we would face tough times. We just didn’t know that the tough times would be so cleverly disguised by the enemy. However, through it all, not once have we felt alone. There hasn’t been one moment where we didn’t feel the presence of our Almighty God with us. He’s been our Rock, our Shelter and our Comfort in a whole new way. He’s used other amazing missionaries
to lift us up and IMG_7142remind us of who we are in Him. They encourage us by reassuring us we are not alone. We are a team. We are an army of One. God is “Our Banner Over Us” and not only is He protecting us, He’s going before and He’s fighting for us! I think we felt this most throughout the week of Christmas. For all four of us (myself, Kellie, Connor and Erin) this was the first time away from family and friends for the holidays. Of course we had the privilege to say “hello” to everyone thanks to technology, but being with them versus talking with them are totally different. It wasn’t easy at first. I noticed that certain traditions weren’t taking place… plus, the weather was super hot. The enemy tried to creep in and tell us we were alone and it became tough for us. But once we realized the beauty of being with our new family here in Honduras, a whole new comfort settled in our hearts.
I guess it’s easy to say that I’m out of my comfort zone just a bit. Not speaking fluent Spanish IMG_5819(we’re working hard to learn), not really knowing our way around everywhere, visiting orphanages each week, not having the comfort of things that we’ve known our whole lives and having babies in our home on a daily basis isn’t exactly what I would have planned for myself years ago. It’s not the eight-to-five job, the house with the big yard, the two-car-garage and fat checking account that I had dreamed about. However, two months in, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s not even about what I have to offer these children. It’s about what they have to offer me.

They accept me even though I am different than they are. I can’t communicate with them well; I don’t like the same sports; I don’t eat the same foods, or even wear the same clothes. I don’t know what it’s like to live in poverty or to grow up without a mom and a dad. In every way imaginable, we’re different, but they still accept the “weird gringos” because their hearts are good. Because of this, I’m forced to examine my own heart to see if I’m just as accepting as they are. Is my heart in line with the Word of God as it should be? Am I here for the right reason? If so, do my actions reflect this? Do I preach God’s Word with my life and not just my words?

Reaching out and Growing up…

This week’s ROOM contributor is Cassie Murray, Honduras Country Co-Director alongside of her husband, Kyle Murray. You’ve heard from Cassie here and here!

 

There is something so refreshing about a new year. Something about the pages upon pages of empty calendar months just scream promise. 2015 was a year of great loss and challenges that resulted in hard lessons learned and growth that was hard earned–both on a personal level for me as well as an organizational level for ROOM–and lessons like these are ones I am grateful to have in my pocket, but also happy to have in my rear view mirror.

2016 is a year of promise.

One of the lessons I learned in 2015 is hold on to the people that jump in the trenches with you when find yourself in hard times.

And that is exactly who Jilli Schulz and Anita Betancourt are to me. When life was crazy–and our ROOM Transition Home most likely resembled the house that Mother Goose spoke of in her fanciful rhymes–I was surprised by just how many people jumped right in alongside of us…maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised…I mean, the reality is that we were living shoulder to shoulder with people who have made a conscious decision to serve and give.  But really, how many people have you met that would jump right in to the hardest moments of your life immediately upon meeting?

Anita and Jilli became such a fluid part of our Honduras culture that it was hard to see divides in ministry…we were simply friends.

These are the friends that filled the seats around our table most nights. Sure it always seemed we were having BBQ chicken, but the company was worth it(?) or, at least, they kept coming back for something! They were the friends that cried alongside of me when we said goodbye to a child. When I was literally too weak or spent, their arms reached over mine to help provide the strength it took to give medical attention a child in my care needed. They were the friends that pitched in when they saw me sick, sleep deprived, and overwhelmed.  I remember the day perfectly when Anita asked me if she could help me by staying overnight in our house with one of the babies. I told her that I felt like I should say no.  Her response was, “then I am, because you need me.” And I did. I needed her and she didn’t even know me the month before, but she knew I needed her. They are the friends that went out of their way to celebrate the birthdays of my children. Sometimes we were having really ridiculous lip-syncing parties that were made into huge events because of the sheer degree of participation.  Sometimes they were shoving marshmallows in their cheeks in a quest to find the remedy for the fake Tracker Jacker stings they received. Whatever it was, they were there.

So that’s why it was a blessing to us to be there for them on the day of the inauguration of CRECER, a day center run by The Children’s Home Project (or TCHP). Both Jilli and Anita work for TCHP and I have witnessed them pour their lives into children whom many have forgotten.  As Jilli spoke at CRECER’s inauguration, her passion for the center’s mission became evident and I found myself holding back the same emotion. At the heart of it, our desires are the same. We want to love these kids. The kids I care for (the age of children ROOM Honduras cares for predominately) are infants and toddlers. The kids Jilli and Anita care for (through TCHP) are mostly early adolescents and teenagers. We want them to know that they belong; that they matter. I do this by bringing babies into my home and praying that they know how pursued they are. ROOM does this by advocating for foster care in Honduras and overseeing the placement and management of many of those foster families. Jilli does this by chasing down kids who have left children’s homes for the “freedom” of the streets to try and remind them that rules are a sign of being loved. Anita does this by being present…whether it is tutoring for homework or overseeing a family visit.

We want them to have a chance.  We provide this chance by fighting for children who have not found their own voice, or who are are not yet strong enough to use it.

That’s what is beautiful about the many members of the body of Christ. We all aim to accomplish one goal and we do it by working in the capacities in which we have been called. I am just so thankful that those capacities have overlapped for ROOM and TCHP!

CRECER is the product of seeing a need and responding to it.

In Jilli’s own words:

 Through more than two years of street outreach, I’ve met and grown to love many kids who live with their families in extreme poverty-… These are the kids we want to reach- the kids who feel like they don’t have any options. Our goal is to make sure these kids don’t fall through society’s cracks. We want them to feel welcomed, loved, safe, and valued. We aim to empower them to embrace new opportunities to break out of the cycle of poverty in which they’ve grown up.

How beautifully does this desire line up with ROOM’s own goals!

While ROOM’s daycare program through Bethel Ministries in India is thriving and preventing many children from becoming abandoned, most of our work in Honduras has been focused on the support and solution aspects of our three-fold focus (prevention, support and solutions)…until now!

I am so beyond thrilled, proud, and full of expectations to announce CRECER as one of our newest ROOM partners!

As CRECER continues to see and respond to the needs of the community, ROOM will be right there providing support to their leadership.

One of those goals aims to start in February:  We are so excited to come alongside of CRECER as they start their very own school!

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Their families are hungry and living in tin shacks (pictured above in the background). At CRECER, they’re currently learning the importance of listening to directions and not saying every curse word that comes to mind. It would be arguably easier (and cheaper) to fund construction projects and give food once a week to each family. Needs would be met and food would always be on the table.

But what would that lead to? What kind of future would that mean for the kids?

It’s safe to assume that our teenage girls would enter motherhood far before they’re ready. The boys would probably end up at those same lower-than-minimum-wage jobs, unable to support themselves or their family. Essentially, history would repeat itself and we’d be having this same conversation about their kids in 10 years.

So what is the solution? I have searched and thought and wondered this for a long time. And there is only one thing I keep coming back to. One thing that can really get these kids on the right track and motivate them to not repeat their parents’ history.

Education.

It needs to be education. At the bare minimum, education will prevent them from being stuck at those less-than-minimum-wage jobs when they’re older. On a broader scale, education will challenge them to explore, dream, and think for themselves. It will take them to a place where instead of feeling burdened, they will be able to help their families.

But it’s not here. It’s not now. Education takes years. It takes money and it often takes sacrifice. It’s not something these parents can invest in because they’re too busy trying to stay afloat day to day.

And that’s what CRECER is for. We help see beyond the here and now and provide education when the parents can’t. Next year, every. single. CRECER. kid. will be enrolled in school. For some of them, it will be their first time ever in school, even at age 13.

~Jilli Schulz, director of CRECER

 

We couldn’t feel happier to be part of this project. As of now, that partnership has mainly meant providing a physical aid to the load of running a project like CRECER.

  • We have helped ensure that each kid received one “need” and one “want” for Christmas.
  • We have helped maintain the center’s facilities.
  • We have helped gather necessary materials for CRECER to be legally recognized as a school
  • We have offered ROOM’s services however they can be used…be it teaching, mowing the grass, grocery shopping…

And now we are excited of a new way in which our donors can help make CRECER’s school a reality.

Our goal is to provide the uniforms for all 15 of the kids part of CRECER. 

It may seem simple, but a uniform is a critical tool for breaking the mental vice of poverty.

When a child leaves the bordos (Honduran slums) wearing a school uniform, they are filled with a sense of pride and purpose.

All it takes is a bit of fabric and thread and we can be a tangible part in changing the future of 15 kids!

The thrill of that opportunity is so real to me… maybe because I know the director and believe in her…or maybe it’s because I have met the kids and know their names.

My kids have played alongside the CRECER kids. They have laughed at my awkwardly constructed Spanish. I have seen their glares when they receive loving direction. I have seen those same eyes light up with joy just because they know they are chosen…they belong.

I have a desire…no, a need…to do something that is tangible. I can only equate it to adoption. So much is out of my control. I can’t control the government’s decisions. I can’t control the speed at which the documents are processed. The list of what I cannot control is and cannot do is crippling…but I cling to what I can do. Those things keep me focused. They remind me that God has given us all potential to make tangible differences. If we choose to actually participate, those little changes add up to big changes.

These are real lives. Lives that have the potential to be forever changed. I hope that excites you! Because I am almost giddy with excitement 🙂

If you want to come alongside of us here at ROOM to help provide uniforms and other necessities for prevention programs like CRECER, please visit: R.O.O.M. donation or mail a check to ROOM PO Box 5882, Concord, NC 28027.  Be sure to indicate “CRECER” or “Prevention” in the memo field to designate your gift.

*You can read more about CRECER on Jilli’s blog.*