Guatemala (MNN) — What is your life’s dream? Perhaps you dream of owning a Ferrari, or climbing Mount Everest.
A mom in Guatemala recently told Albert Reyes, President and CEO of Buckner International, her dream was to read the Bible for herself.
“That just really kind of impacted me. I call it like a ‘Holy Spirit ambush,’ ya know? I wasn’t ready for that,” Reyes says.
Dreaming big in Guatemala
Reyes and Buckner Guatemala staff first came in contact with Maria Elena Raymundo when her daughter, Dulce, received a new pair of shoes through Buckner’s Shoes for Orphan Souls ministry. Dulce happened to get the ministry’s 3-millionth pair earlier this year.
“The shoes make a huge difference because if she didn’t have the shoes, she would be walking around barefoot and…[her home is located in] rocky, kind of hilly terrain, with sticks and other things that could cut a child’s foot,” recalls Reyes.
If children cut their feet while playing barefoot, Reyes explains, bigger problems arise quickly.
“If they step into contaminated water, parasites and other bacteria in the water get into their bloodstream…and the parasite will work its way up to their heart and kill them.”
Not only do they protect the health of children, new shoes are a “big deal” in Jocotenango, the Raymundo family’s hometown. Filled with desperation and extreme poverty, the Antigua subdivision is known for its high rates of unemployment and violence.
Owning things like new shoes and a stove can sometimes seem like impossible dreams in Jocotenango. But, with the help of Buckner and its partners, some of those dreams are coming true.
Making dreams come true
Buckner Guatemala helps families like the Raymundo’s through their Family Hope Center. Literacy classes and shoe deliveries are just one way they help families climb out of extreme poverty.
“We also provide English as a Second Language, vocational training, cooking classes, baking. The idea here is for them to become economically independent [and] self-sustaining over time,” explains Reyes.
As relationships form and grow, Buckner workers get a chance to tell children and their parents about the God-man who died to save them.
“People want to know sometimes, ‘Do you just help people or do you tell them about Jesus?’ And I say, ‘The answer is Yes,'” says Reyes with a laugh. “We have many opportunities to share the Gospel.
“The Gospel is like breathing; it’s just part of what you do.”
As they learn about God through devotionals, and process past pains through Christian counseling provided by Buckner, families like the Raymundo’s become followers of Jesus.
“Before Buckner, it was a sad life,” Maria Elena told Buckner. “But I had dreams. I dreamed of one day having a stove, and now I do.
“I know that all these gifts come from God. Nothing is impossible with God. I feel more safe and confident, because I know God will never leave me, and I have the support of people I can talk to, like Perla and [Buckner Counselor] Ligia [Lopez].”
How YOU can help
There are many ways you can change lives, both for today and eternity, by coming alongside Buckner.
“The easiest way is to go to the Web site and learn how to conduct a shoe drive,” Reyes says.
“All you do all week is put shoes on children,” says Reyes. “It’s just a lot of fun to wash their feet and kneel down in front of them, dry their feet and put on new socks and shoes, and tell them that God loves them.
“It’s just a fantastic transformational experience.”