Our vision statement says, “Love & Hope Children’s Home cares for orphaned, abused, abandoned, and neglected children by sharing the love of Jesus in a family setting,” and we do our best to provide our kids with opportunities to explore the Christian faith and grow spiritually. That means we work hard at creating an environment and atmosphere of faith, discipleship, and unity. It’s something that doesn’t happen by accident and takes quite a bit of planning and purposeful effort.
A couple of years ago, one of our caregivers, Julio, stepped into the position of “Spiritual Director.” In this position, he helps cultivate a culture of faith, minister to our staff and children, and also organizes devotionals and retreats.
For a few years now, our staff has enjoyed an annual retreat at the beach. Thanks to some volunteers who “babysit,” they are able to leave the kids behind for a day of fellowship, worship, prayer, and team building. It is a great way to foster unity and friendship among the staff, while also building their faith; in turn, our staff can guide the children and teens at Love & Hope.
Love & Hope Children’s Home also plans a yearly family retreat which includes all of the kids and staff. For the past two years, the retreat has been held at a camp in the department of Chalatenango, in northern El Salvador. The staff pitches in to prepare meals, play games and lead devotionals. We also have some friendly competition; the kids form teams and compete in games together with a couple staff leaders. The campgrounds also include a high-ropes course, zip-line, and extreme swing that add an extra element of excitement and adrenaline to the weekend. The most important aspect of the retreat is maturing the kids’ relationships with God and strengthening Love & Hope family bonds which we feel has been achieved both years!
In addition to our own staff, we also look for opportunities for others to share and minister with our children. Twice now, Julio has invited a former gang member from his church to give his testimony to the older children. El Salvador suffers from a major gang and violence problem, which makes the topic particularly relevant. This former gang member has been very gracious and very honest with the kids about his past, his struggles and his road to Christ. Our children were very engaged with his story, and asked a lot questions!
Last year, Love & Hope was visited by Reverend Park, a missionary to El Salvador from South Korea. He has been consistent in bringing us devotional booklets for each child and staff member every month. The books include a passage of scripture and a few questions for every day of the month. The Love & Hope kids read from the book each morning before school. They’re a great and simple way that our children can study the Word together.
On Saturday nights, Julio has arranged for our children to engage in devotions together. The teens gather together with our friend Steve, who leads the time. Steve is a missionary to El Salvador who graciously takes time out of his busy schedule to spend time at Love & Hope. He does a great job of making the devotions relevant and interesting to our teens. Meanwhile, the younger kids also meet together, their caregivers leading them in Bible study.
Two of our girls have had the awesome opportunity to attend a mission trip to Belize! While there (on separate trips) they mainly ministered to children and did evangelism. Both girls returned to El Salvador with stories to tell and new experiences to share. Two of our staff members, Tio Julio and Suzana, also traveled with the teams to Belize. We are so proud of them for pushing themselves and trying something new; after all, Jesus never said our faith would be comfortable!
Love & Hope was named so because our number one desire is that our children can know the love of Jesus and experience the hope we have in knowing Him as our personal Lord and savior. We love to see our children make their faith personal, taking ownership of their relationship with Jesus and experiencing true rebirth and hope in Him. Most of our children do not know their earthly, biological fathers, and we pray that they will come to see Jesus as their heavenly father, and themselves as His adopted children. Please pray for our children as they explore their faith, and pray for our staff as they lead our children!