By Adam Gellenbeck, Back2Back Field Staff, Mazatlan, Mexico
Sixteen-year old Alberto loves textile arts, soccer and skateboarding. He enjoys spending afternoons with Back2Back staff at a local skate park. He strives to be a leader in his children’s home, someone they can look up to and come to for advice. He is passionate about living his life as an example for the younger boys in his dorm. Alberto has a compassionate heart and a desire to serve. “When I grow up, I want to help other people in need,” he says.
As an orphaned teen in Mazatlan, Mexico, Alberto could be involved in so many other things besides soccer and skateboarding. Statistics indicate orphaned children have an increased likelihood for involvement in drugs, human trafficking, or the black market. But Alberto is not a statistic, nor are the other four boys at Salvation Army Children’s Home who have no family to visit on the weekend.
At Back2Back, we strive to provide children like Alberto with the love and encouragement they need to thrive in the midst of difficult circumstances with no family support. Each weekend, the boys watch as one-by-one the other children are picked up for a weekend visit with a family member. They wonder what they did wrong for their family not to visit them. I love building into these boys for many reasons, but the greatest reason is to share hope with them. I invest in them through fellowship and community, cultivating a sense of belonging and giving them a chance to be themselves. It is amazing how a trip to the movies or dinner together at a taco stand provides a sense of belonging and acceptance. They enjoy typical boy antics – rough-housing and practical jokes, but ultimately each boy has dreams and hopes for his future.
Back2Back’s dream in Mazatlan, Mexico is to build a stronger sense of hope for each of the children we serve, a hope based on the promises of a faithful God. We are in the midst of a land campaign to develop a Back2Back ministry site in Mazatlan, a project that will allow us to better serve children and empower them to break free from the cycle of poverty. This is only possible through the Body of Christ coming together. The vision is for a ministry site that will not only facilitate mission teams and the staff, but also create an environment of hope for each child’s future. The property will also include multi-purpose space for teen retreats, child development, training sessions for local caregivers and churches, and ministry time with current Hope Education Program students. In addition, we will construct six Hope Program houses for teens like Alberto. We envision a Hope Program in Mazatlan that will allow orphaned children to live in a home, experiencing a healthy family life for the first time. The goal is to not merely meet each child’s physical needs, but to equip each child with the tools and resources to have successful futures by investing in their spiritual, emotional, social and educational development.
The more time I spend with Alberto, the more I see his incredible potential and just how much God cares for him. I’m grateful to play a role in helping him understand the love of his heavenly Father. I’m excited for the completion of this project, as it will enable us to provide better care for the children we serve, ensuring they have the tools to pursue an education when they age out of the children’s home. As we come alongside orphaned and vulnerable children, we are eager to see how God begins to renew lives and rewrite futures.
For more about the Mazatlan vision, click here.