Starting this month, we will be featuring interviews with various Back2Back staff members, highlighting one to two individuals on the field each month.
How do you serve with Back2Back?
Jim: I serve as captain of both Casa Hogar Douglas and the ministry site of Rio 3. As a Back2Back captain, I am the liaison between Back2Back and the people/children we serve. About 70% of my time is spent “in the field” working alongside the caregivers in the children’s home or Olga in Rio 3, an impoverished community that Back2Back serves. Many times, it is not just working on projects, but it is time spent identifying and assisting in finding solutions to their needs. We try hard to build into the staff that work full-time in the areas we serve, so that they can function better. I can’t do that unless I can identify with what struggles they really experience in doing their job. The other 30% of my time is spent in my office planning projects for upcoming groups, communicating with supporters and doing other paperwork.
Why did you decide to begin serving with Back2Back?
Jim: Like many Christians, I had felt a calling to do more for God, for some time. I turned fifty, as a single dad of two adult children. I realized that I couldn’t spend the next twenty years like I had spent the last twenty, living my life through my kids. I was either going to be a frustrated, middle-aged man, who complained that he never saw his kids enough, or I needed to find something else to do with my life, that I was passionate about.
For many years, my daughter and I had served with Back2Back, on short-term mission trips. I had always felt satisfaction and purpose when we served the children’s homes of Monterrey. So, during this mid-life crisis in my life, I accepted an invitation to join the staff in Monterrey, with a one year STINT commitment. My background was in construction. Back2Back was busy building the new teen homes on their campus. I felt God was calling me to help with the construction and mentor teens that would be a part of the Hope Program. That is what I did through 2007. But, during that year, I met my wife, Betty, got married, picked up five more kids and began to serve as a team, with my new wife.
What part of your job are you most passionate about? Why?
Jim: I am most passionate about the fact that we are making a difference in so many kids’ lives. There are many problems here in Mexico. Over 50% of the population lives in poverty. The kids we serve are byproducts of that poverty. Many have been abandoned in children’s homes, by poor, undeucated parents that have no supportive community to help them care for their kids. When I consider the possibility that these kids can one day graduate college, and have a career in medicine, education, business or social work, I get excited. As I think of the difference these young people can be in their careers, because they know Jesus, I begin to believe we can change the world!
I feel very blessed to be an eyewitness to these changes. I realize that many times the things that I have an opportunity to be a part of are the result of many faithful people. Many people work hard, sacrificially supporting the work of Back2Back and don’t often get a chance to witness the fruit of their labor. I feel a responsibility to share the harvest of that fruit with ALL of those who have labored in the fields.
What is something that God has shown you or taught you over the past year through your experiences with Back2Back?
Jim: The thing that God has reminded me of lately is that He seldom works in nice and tidy ways. Many of the stories or events in the Bible, involved battles, sickness, suffering, violence and blood. Even God’s plan for my eternal salvation required His only son to suffer and die a cruel death on a cross. Why should I expect that the things of my life would be neat, painless and comfortable when there is no evidence of such things in His Word? Maybe it is something that the American Christian church of the 21st century has come to expect. And, maybe it isn’t Christian at all. Maybe it is why airline pilots, surgeons and millionaires have told me the most fulfilling days of their lives were spent pouring concrete here in Monterrey.
I was reminded of this, as I witnessed the work that God was doing in Rio 3 after Hurricane Alex. Over 100 families lost everything in the flood waters that were produced from the 40 inches of rain that fell in two days. As I walked through the emptiness of Rio 3, just hours after the flood waters receded, I felt the horror of complete devastation in these families’ lives. Everything had washed away! But as I have witnessed the work God has been able to do in this area in the weeks that followed, I have realized that God has used this tragedy to expand His Kingdom. Today, we are not heckled by men who believe what we are doing is foolish. Instead, we are warmly greeted by men who have experienced the love of Christ through our actions and not just our preaching. Church attendance has nearly doubled since we first started serving meals, providing shelter and rebuilding lives. God has been working in Rio 3. The work hasn’t always been as we have planned. Sometimes, He has used an event like a hurricane to prepare the way.