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2023 CEO’S Year-End Report

By February 15, 2024No Comments
2023 on left cliff, person leaping over gap to 2024 on right cliff.

2024 is soon upon us, and I want to take this time to reflect upon the year of 2023, and herein give a report of Abogar’s progress and movement throughout 2023. In my time of reflection, I am so very grateful to God for continuing to carry us forward, and for helping us to maintain a steadfast pursuit of Him and His will, especially when it has looked so very different than our anticipation of outcomes and movement for Abogar this year. It has been a year of pausing, pivoting, transitioning, closing down, ‘resting’, and dreaming big to move forward. It has also been a year that has found me relocated from Guatemala back to the US. I find myself energized at what some might perceive as a restart in 2024, and thankful for God’s faithful hand carrying us through 2023. May this report give Him the adequate praise and glory He alone deserves. It is with great praise to God that I, Jesse Rivers, submit this 2023 CEO’s Year End Report.

2023 brought about some incredible challenges, blessings, and eye-opening experiences, that prepared us, as a ministry, to be ready and willing to pivot and transition away from Guatemala. We praise God for the solid ministries that are doing great work in Guatemala, and for our own ministry impact that we have had over the last eight and a half years, but we also feel very content and confident that our chapter and season in Guatemala has come to a close. I have been reminiscing and remembering much of the work that we have done in Guatemala, and I know that God has used the work of Abogar/AboGua to impact the lives of over 1,500 children, as well as many families, churches, and individuals in Guatemala! We do not know the future, nor what God has in store, and are open to God again bringing us back to Guatemala, but we are certain and resolved that for the foreseeable future our efforts and energy shall pivot to Mexico.

On February 18th, 2023, AboGua relaunched our Vidas Nuevas program in Villa Nueva, Guatemala. We rented a soccer field to hold the ministry. Unfortunately, we only held the ministry program for four Saturdays. One of our volunteer leaders, who I had to confront for starting a small fire without asking permission for one of our lessons, confronted me in front of our whole volunteer team, accusing me of being sexist, racist, machismo, and nationalistic. I hope, pray, and strive to be none of those things. This was the second week in a row that that same volunteer was confrontational, and I really needed time to consult with Abogar’s, and AboGua’s, board of directors, to evaluate and consider the best steps forward. Due to the breakdown in our team of volunteers, and lack of initiative and leadership, it was evident that we’d at least need to reconfigure our leadership team, and to come up with some clear guidelines and an instruction document for our volunteers. However, Vidas Nuevas did not restart as a ministry again for the rest of 2023. Fortunately though, we were able to have one final ministry time with the kids, on October 29th, to officially close down the program. It was a beautiful time with the children and volunteers, and I was tremendously blessed by all the children hugging on me and sharing what an impact Vidas Nuevas has had on their lives. It is my hope and anticipation that we will have Vidas Nuevas functioning in each country we work in throughout Latin America, because it is an effective way to minister to the children, connect with their families, and focus on family preservation and strengthening.

A few hours after the closing event for Vidas Nuevas, one of the volunteers, Bryan, wrote me a very encouraging message through WhatsApp, sharing how Vidas Nuevas had personally impacted his life, led him to know Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord, and how it has helped changed his heart and mind! Praise the Lord! Bryan is just one of many great testimonies of the impact Vidas Nuevas has had on the lives of those who’ve attended! While it was very sad to stop our Vidas Nuevas ministry, I am certain that we have made an impact for the kingdom of God in the lives of many children and volunteers, and that God will use the seeds that we’ve planted, watered, and fed, to continue bringing about the results and growth that He desires.

In early 2023, Special Kids School notified us that they would no longer be seeking our support in 2024. Therefore, at the end of 2023, our financial commitment to Special Kids School has also come to a close. Due to an inability to raise sufficient funds, and to have a good succession plan established, Special Kids School decided that this would be their last year of full-time ministry. We maintained our financial commitment to them throughout 2023, and we pray for God to bless the amazing investment in the lives of children and families that the school and staff have had and will continue having with any future ministry. Though a very sad reality, the closing of Special Kids School was a timely and an added confirmation in our discernment process of how and where God is calling Abogar, at this time.

Throughout April and May, several people told me that I needed a sabbatical rest. It was evident that I needed some intentional time to focus on the medical needs of my family, as well as a time of rest. A few years back Abogar’s board of directors had approved a sabbatical and relocation back to San Diego for me, but that got pushed off, as I met my wife and God had other plans. In May of this year, it was approved for me to take a medical leave for the months of June through August, and I was also granted a paid sabbatical for September through December. May was a month focused on finalizing details for AboGua and Abogar before my medical leave.

While on medical leave in July, I sensed a very strong word from the Lord… that Abogar was to be done working in Guatemala, and that it was/is time to transition/pivot our ministry focus from Guatemala to Mexico! While we had already been planning to expand our ministry output, starting some exploratory trips to Mexico, I was not anticipating the call for us to move forward and away from Guatemala. In August, Abogar’s board members officially gave their support for this call, and I was charged with the responsibility of preparing for all that this transition required. Though sharing this decision with the AboGua board, volunteers, Vidas Nuevas, and Special Kids School was very difficult emotionally, I have had such a sense of relief and confidence that we are hearing the Lord clearly and moving forward in the right direction!

Speaking of the right direction, I would like to share here that over the last few months of 2023 I have sensed very strongly from the Lord a theme for 2024. As we are steadfast in our pursuit of earnestly seeking God’s will and direction for this ministry, He really encouraged me that we are, and are to be, unswervingly committed in this calling and ministry. While we are pivoting to a new country in Latin America, we are not swerving away from our commitment to His call for us to be ministering to and advocating for the precious children of Latin America!


2023 was a year of trials, transitions, and triumphs. I am thankful for the blessings that God so faithfully provided, through them all. One of the bigger trials for me personally this year was to find a healthy balance in keeping my family first, as my first ministry, without abandoning God’s calling for me to lead and minister with Abogar. It has been amazing to have had more than half of this year dedicated mainly to my family, for medical attention and rest. However, with all the transitions, trials, and battles of colds and sickness included in that time, it has not been as restful as I had hoped. The many transitions… closing down Vidas Nuevas, selling AboGua’s property, transferring funds to the US, thanking and disbanding the AboGua board of directors, closing the leadership development group, selling all AboGua’s possessions, getting Irene’s visa and Green Card, moving to the US, continuing Abogar’s social media presence, etc. – to name a few… required a lot of me still. However, those transitions have each brought about some amazing triumphs that leave me praising the Lord Almighty! While there are too many to list all here, I would like to note that the lives of many volunteers and children (and families) in Vidas Nuevas were greatly impacted. AboGua’s property sale gave us a small increase of funds (and sold for more than we spent to buy it two years prior). AboGua board of directors’ members, and some of our volunteers, have expressed interest in helping in the future, if God calls us back to Guatemala. My wife and I successfully moved, with Jedidiah, to Pennsylvania on November 5th, and in the middle of December Irene officially received her Green Card in the mail. Praise God!

While 2023 has had its challenges and trials, I am very pleased at how and where God is leading Abogar. May we be unswervingly committed in our pursuit of God’s heart for these precious children and families, and may we not be deterred by any challenges or obstacles we may encounter! I anticipate 2024 to be a year of some significant transitions, trials, and triumphs as well, but no matter what comes our way, with God at the center and focus of our pursuit, we will be right where He wants us to be.

I would like to extend a big THANK YOU to each board member, church, prayer supporter, and financial supporter for your faithful and generous donations, prayers, patience, investments, and contributions to the ministry of Abogar International Ministries! As we prepare to transition and pivot our ministry, your faithful prayer support, encouragement, and financial investment will be greatly needed and valued! May we see God’s mighty movement in 2024 as we venture our efforts to Ensenada, Mexico. May we help even more children and families receive love and blessings, as we continue pursuing God’s heart and plan for children to truly have lifelong family, lifelong home, with educational opportunities!

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