Home to open for at-risk girls

By August 21, 2009

Honduras (MNN) — The interim
government of Honduras has set a deadline for Argentine diplomats to leave the country. They're working to resolve the aftermath of June's presidential ouster. The ongoing instability has forced Buckner International to postpone 12 of the 19 mission trips it had scheduled for Honduras this year.

"That means there'll be a lot of
children who aren't able to receive the Gospel, who aren't able to receive a
new pair of shoes, who aren't able to receive the love and care that
Christian volunteers bring to them," said Buckner's Russ Tilday.  "We are praying that the situation will
resolve itself and that we can go back in immediately and provide care for those
children."

For the most part, however,
Buckner's ministry in Honduras continues. It runs long-term ministries to orphans and
at-risk children in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Buckner's philosophy of working with
indigenous partners allows these programs to continue without
interruption. 

"That's been our philosophy since
we started internationally about 15 years ago, and this lent itself very
well to this kind of situation," Tilday said. "It's a good method–a good philosophy of doing Christian service."

Buckner is doing more than
maintaining current ministry, however. It's partnering with Kids Matter to open a brand-new ministry on the
resort island of Roatan near San Pedro Sula. 

"Kids Matter already had a good
base of operations in Roatan," Tilday explained. "They already had some coworkers on [the] island who are familiar with the situation. They
are already doing some counseling and care work in the streets there, and what
we've been able to do is to bring a group home care model to go the next phase."

Buckner and Kids Matter are already
hiring staff for the home and hope to open by mid-to-late September. The home will start out serving about 5 to 8
girls and expand incrementally until it houses about 12 to 15.   

"The transitional home will serve as a foster group care and
assessment center for girls ages 8-17 who cannot live at home because they are
at risk of sexual abuse and sexual trafficking," said Randy Daniels, vice president
of international operations for Buckner. "The goal is for the girls to stay no longer than
90-120 days before we can transition them to foster or kinship care, or
ideally, back home through our family intervention programs."

Although the island is a resort, many low-income staff work
at the resort, and their children are often the targets of predators. 

"While it's beautiful on the exterior–great beaches, blue
seas, just a beautiful resort area–there's that seedy underbelly that comes
with a lot of resort area, where there is a high incidence of child abuse, child prostitution, and a high incidence of
children at risk," Tilday said. 

Buckner and Kids Matter are
hiring Christian case managers and a supervisor to staff the home. The staff will provide the girls not only
with safety and structure, but also with a Christian witness and
worldview. Tilday said the Gospel can
reach every heart, no matter what's in a child's past. 

"Right now we're in 14 countries,
and it's almost universal that the Gospel is able to reach every heart and
every kid," he explained. "We have
worked with girls in a lot of countries who have come from very desperate
situations. But the power of the Gospel,
the power of the message of Jesus, penetrates every heart. And even though I say that with all
confidence, it's still a miraculous thing to watch."

According to UNICEF, 145 million
orphans live in the world today. Over 5,000
of those live in Honduras. Pray that God will
raise people up to minister to them physically and spiritually, and to protect
them from those who take advantage of them. In addition, consider how you can support the orphaned and at-risk children of Roatan financially.

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