“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me... And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” —Jesus (Matthew 10: 40-42)
The first five years of ministry with Abogar International Ministries have passed by so quickly, (March 1st, 2017 marked 5 years completed.) and yet it has been such a long time at the same time. As I, Jesse Rivers, have been reflecting and thinking over the multitude of situations, opportunities, and ministry outreaches that Abogar and I have been able to take part in throughout this time, I am very overwhelmed by God’s goodness and faithfulness; as well as reminded that my boss, the one from whom my call, orders, direction, and life purpose come from, has a different standard and goal for me, my life, and for Abogar than what most of the world (even many in the church) would call us to.
Often the questions I receive from interested parties in the church are, “How many orphanages do you have? How many children do you have? Are you sure you have heard God’s call for you clearly? Why didn’t/don’t you join with World Vision, Compassion International, or another big organization already established?” It is funny to me how we measure success. Never have I had anyone ask me, “How are you doing with sharing the Gospel? How many hugs have you given? How many times have you played with, listened to, and/or loved on the children?” Yet these are the more important questions, at least in my opinion.
Last year Abogar and I had the distinct privilege and blessing to be a part of leading more than 100 children to know Jesus Christ as Savior AND Lord! We gave out many more hugs, blessings, and encouragement than that, but just those 100+ children are worth a lifetime dedication. While Abogar and I don’t really ‘have’ any children, we are sponsoring 15 children’s education here in Guatemala. We also have a Vidas Nuevas (New Life) program set up, in which we weekly bless ~20 children with good food, a good Bible lesson, and some recreational time as well. We are developing relationships in a very poor and hard area of a city, so that we can encourage and bless them to a better standard of living. We also have 7 of the 9 members that we need to legally formalize as an association here. Our board of directors for Abogar Guatemala is growing and becoming stronger as we work together more. I feel God’s pleasure, and hear His congratulations to us on our success.
This year, as we have a National Director, Elmer, working with me on the ground here in Guatemala, we have been able to continue visiting the children’s school where we sponsor 15 children for their education. One little girl, whom we shall nickname Nancy, was quite shy and reserved the first time that we arrived; and we were unable to even get her to speak or share with us. We have brought snacks, drinks, and bible lessons for the children, and continued to love on and share time with them.
At the beginning of this week, as we returned to the school, Elmer, and his wife, Lily, and I noticed a change in Nancy. As we arrived she came running to us and hugged our legs tightly. She laughed, played, and engaged with us. Often, the children whom we serve come from very poor/bad home situations. It’s hard for them to trust, as even in their immediate home situations they are mistreated and not able to trust those people who should be the most loving and protecting to them. Nancy has some trust issues, but as we have continued to love on her and bless here we have watched God do some transformation in her heart and life for His glory!
As someone who has also experienced abuse, neglect, and reasons to distrust others in my childhood, my most precious moments of my childhood were when my Sunday School teacher and her husband hugged me and shared time with me! I remember running to my Sunday School teacher and hugging her leg/waist! She and her husband carried the love of Jesus, and they shared it with me. Eternal rewards are stored up in heaven for them both! They shared a cup of water with me, and sooooo much more!!
At Abogar International Ministries we are committed to giving a cup of water, giving snacks, meals, drinks, hugs, love, the Gospel, and our time and attention to these precious children. We don’t do it perfectly, though we genuinely strive to do our very best, but we do do it consistently and with lots of love and care for these precious children. Many live in orphanages and children’s homes but never receive special attention and love. While Abogar has not yet met the friend(s) who will fund homes, schools, learning centers, etc. for us to move forward, the investment and work we do already is invaluable in the Kingdom of God, and we shall not ever allow this to stop being our first focus and passion, as we advocate for and love on these children.