When people ask me why I left teaching to come work at New Hope, the answer is Victor. When I was a junior at Asbury College, Prof. Lauter preached a message during Great Commission Congress in which he challenged all of us present to participate in at least one international mission trip while we were in college. I decided I would make that happen, and in January of 2001 I went to Guatemala with a New Hope team. It was my first time to leave the U.S., and I was excited to experience another culture and serve God however I could among the Guatemalans.
Just shortly before that service where I decided in my heart to make a mission trip before I graduated from Asbury, Steve and Pam English were in the early stages of opening La Senda Children’s Home in Guatemala. They received a call from a hospital begging them to come and take in a little boy who had been born there, abandoned, taken in by a Guatemalan family, and then abandoned again by them when he was found to need surgery because of hydrocephalus (water on the brain). After initially turning down the boy, Steve and Pam decided God wanted them to take him in, and they agreed to pay for the $200 surgery that would install a shunt to carry the water from Victor’s brain down to his abdomen, something he would live with for the rest of his life.
A year later, Victor did not relate well to others except Pam. He did not play with other children or visitors. That was when our mission team arrived at La Senda. For some reason, very slowly, Victor began to take a liking to me. Before the trip was over, he was clinging to me all the time. He would lay on my chest and smack the sides of my cheeks and make a clucking sound with his tongue. He and I grew very close that week, and I learned more about God’s love through that little boy than I had in a thousand sermons. My eyes were opened to a whole new world of God’s love and amazing grace, and I was changed forever.
In January 2002 I returned to La Senda with another New Hope team and we were amazed to find out that one day Victor’s shunt had dried up because he had been completely healed of his hydrocephalus. The doctor said that was the first time he had ever heard of a shunt being removed from a hydrocephalic patient. What an amazing miracle!
When Prof. Lauter called me and asked if I might have any interest in coming to manage the New Hope office, it was my experience with Victor that came to mind. I wanted to have a part in making possible for others what had happened in my life through a week in Guatemala. During my first year at New Hope I led another team to La Senda and met a five-year-old Victor who was talking up a storm and running around playing soccer. Last week we went to La Senda again with a team from our church, and it was so fun to see Victor growing into a little young man – rambunctious, intelligent, loving, ornery, joking. God’s going to do something with that boy, just wait and see. Of course, He already has.