(Photo courtesy of Orphan's Heart)
Guatemala (MNN) ― In Guatemala, the face of hunger is young.
Nearly 50% of Guatemalan children under the age of five are malnourished, making Guatemala the country with the fourth-highest malnutrition rate in the world according to World Food Programme.
Orphan’s Heart is doing something about it. They are just wrapping up a week of ministry to 80 babies in desperate need of love in a Guatemalan malnutrition center.
And who better to reach out to them than 12 youths who know what it’s like to need a ministry of love?
These 12 young people come from Florida Baptist Children’s Homes (FCBH), the parent organization of Orphan’s Heart. FCBH exists to provide Christian homes for children who have been abandoned, abused, or caught up in family strife.
The team has been working with the malnutrition center in Sacatepequez, an hour outside Guatemala City. Children there have been brought by their parents to be nourished back to health over several months.
Howie Hooper, team leader with Orphan’s Heart, says, “We are here to love on babies. And that’s what we like to tell people, that we actually are truly loving them back to health. We do everything from changing diapers to bathing them, to dressing them, to feeding them daily.”
This is an immense help since the staff at the center is quite small. “When we have mission teams, it is many more hands that help with these children. So they are thankful that we’re here and able to help them,” says Hooper.
On top of helping heal the children’s physical needs, the team is also ministering to their spiritual needs with the help of translators. Hooper states, “With the children, we’re always having Bible stories and songs that we teach them that are hopefully instilling in them the love of Christ. And as they hear and as they sing, that they will too understand what it means to have the love of Christ.”
The team also ministers to the staff at the malnutrition center. Hooper says, “The workers have a daily time that we are in the Word with them and able to share and encourage them through God’s Word.”
Hooper sees a pattern of these mission trips also impacting the youth from FBCH that Orphan’s Heart brings every summer. “To see the reaction and to hear the testimony…how the Lord has touched them, how the Lord has used them, how the Lord has grown them throughout the week, that really excites me.... And to hear them say, ‘We want to come back and serve again,’ that really excites us.”
Pray for the youth as they finish up their week of ministry to the children in the malnutrition center. Pray for safety as they travel home.