08 October 2007

Mentor Monday

A couple of weeks ago, before I got distracted by the land that I love (aka New Jersey), I told you about the upcoming Mondays that would highlight people incarnating Christ's love and truth. The time is here.

I've decided to call it Mentor Monday because these are people that are doing what I talk about doing. The Apostle Paul said in one of his letters that the new believers should emulate him. These are people I want to emulate.

The truth of the matter is that there are thousands of ministers and missionaries who have given up corporate salaries, powerful positions, and limosine lives in order to serve God in professional ministry. My husband and dad are two faithful examples of these servants.

But for now, I'd like to highlight those who are specifically serving the poor. These are people who help the poor build businesses, spoon soup into the mouths of the hungry, play soccer with the leper, kiss the boo-boo of an orphan, and knit blankets for a local shelter. These are the Mother Theresas, the Shane Claibornes. These are the little Christs. They live overseas, and they live in our neighborhood. As I mentioned before, if you know someone like this, please email me at heatheragoodman [at] yahoo [dot] com.

For the big kick-off, I'd like to tell you about Carmen.

I met Carmen in 1995 at an orphanage in Honduras. More like saw her hugging this child, kissing that girl's scraped elbow, kicking the fútbol around with some of the teenagers. She mothers a whole lotta kid at Hogar de Niños Nazareth.

No wonder her back hurts sometimes.

This orphanage, run by Mama Carmen--if you hadn't guessed--doesn't see adoptions. No Angelina Jolie flying in to save the world. But Carmen has made a home for all of them, the abandoned, the lost, the parentless. They have a farm, chickens, and a cow, both to feed the orphanage but also to sell in the local village to help sustain the facilities. Carmen trains the kids with vocational skills, such as sewing, woodworking and welding, so that when the time comes, the new adults will leave the orphanage prepared to support themselves and contribute to the economy of a Two-Thirds World country. The children also receive spiritual training, including a Sunday walk to the local church and daily prayer.

Carmen's ministry started with two abandoned girls. Carmen was 19 at the time. She broke ties with the convent she was serving in (who refused to take the two girls) and broke the law by taking in children that were not her own. She had no job and no money, but she had God's love, and she knew that was enough. With the help of a group of mothers of children she had taught previously and Air Force soldiers who volunteered their time when they found out what she was doing, Carmen turned an abandoned and disrepaired house into an orphange, into a home.

Now she has close to 200 children in her care.

Through the years, God continued to provide helpers--local farmers, crazy estadounidenses (U.S. citizens), and "graduated" orphans who stay on as staff.

Carmen says that her greatest challenge is making sure that the children feel like they're in a family rather than a facility. But her love covers that. After all, it's Christ's love.

For more information on Carmen, the children of Hogar, or All God's Children, the nonprofit that helps support the ministry, visit their website.

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him...If you do away with the yoke of oppression…and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched landand will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail…you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Isaiah 58:6-12


Jeanne Damoff said...

I love your Mentor Monday idea, Heather. This story about Carmen is a beautiful introduction.

Pamela said...

i feel lower case after reading about CARMEN and the BAND OF BROTHERS

Heather said...

Thanks, Jeanne.
Pam--no need to feel lower case. God wants to use all of us. The secret is to let him in his unique way.

Marcus said...

Mentor Monday is a really good idea. In my current job, I don't get too many chances to be a mentor anymore. And I'm always yearning for some kind of idealized mentor to help guide me.

I like your idea that we can find mentors and learn from them--whether they view themselves as our mentors or not.

Karmyn R said...

I wish there were more Carmen's out there.

A good friend spent 2 years in Nigeria teaching at a school....she randomly visited a Mother Theresa orphanage one day and then spent the next year volunteering whenever she could.

They do so much good for those children.