Jesse Rivers started Abogar International Ministries in 2012.
The plight of vulnerable children, including those orphaned, homeless and at risk, was on his heart long before that—largely because of his personal story.
Jesse’s early life included a large degree of various types of abuse. Finally rescued from a dangerous and abusive family at the age of 13, he entered the foster care system, where for years he continued to experience many types of living situations that were never really “home.” The yearning for a sense of belonging and connectedness is deeply personal to Jesse.
It is Jesse’s desire to advocate for vulnerable children whose circumstances may make them feel powerless and worthless—to give them not only a voice but also the love and support he knows first-hand is life-changing. As a young boy, Jesse first experienced that love from Christ-followers. They told him of a God who loves him. He came to know the Lord and to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, entering into a lifelong relationship with God, Who has shown Jesse that he is known, accepted, and loved unconditionally. The Lord gave Jesse a supernatural ability to forgive and to be filled with joy. Now, wherever Jesse goes, he seeks to bring joy and love to others. Breaking free from a cycle that usually sends children with his history into a downward spiral, Jesse lives with hope and desires more than anything to bring that hope to children living in difficult situations, particularly in Latin America.
Jesse earned a B.A. in Christian Ministries with a concentration in Missions from Messiah College in Pennsylvania in 2002. He then received an M.A. in Cross-Cultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2010.
God gave Jesse a vision.
On January 7, 2011, while Jesse was studying Spanish by reading a dictionary on a plane, the Holy Spirit locked his attention to the Spanish verb “Abogar,” which means, “to advocate for, to plead on behalf of, to intercede for.” Because of the Holy Spirit’s work, Jesse couldn’t seem to think about anything else on that plane ride. The next year, on February 19, 2012, Jesse received a specific vision and calling from God to begin an advocacy nonprofit organization named “Abogar International Ministries.” God made it clear that the organization would advocate for and work on behalf of children of Latin America who are orphaned, living in the streets, or at risk.
Just a couple weeks later, on March 1, 2012, Jesse officially started Abogar. A board was established, and through vision trips, it was determined Guatemala was the first country where Abogar would work.
Jesse’s vision and call from God is that Abogar will eventually be serving in all Latin American countries, coming alongside other organizations working on behalf of vulnerable children as well as providing Homes of Hope where children can experience lifelong families from which they won’t “age out.”
Jesse now serves as the founder, CEO, and vision-caster for Abogar. He is grateful for the chance to raise up others, sharing and fulfilling his passion to be an advocate, mentor, and minister for youth at risk in Latin America so that they would know Christ-centered lifelong families, lifelong homes, and educational opportunities.
Jesse sees his real role in all of this as the chief beggar and chief servant for the precious children of Latin America.
The vision God gave Jesse is God-sized and based on the belief that a community is needed to love these children. Jesse rejoices in the fact that he is not alone in this work and that Abogar is continuing to grow and minister to the vulnerable in Latin America.
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Our Theme Verse:
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."