Rodo comes home from work. Before he can even change out of his work clothes, he lifts his son Malakai and tosses him playfully in the air. Malakai bursts into a giggling fit. Rodo and Malakai, hand in hand, run out the door into the hot Mazatlan sun to wrestle and play as boys and dads do
It was a cold, November Sunday, and I was visiting a Michigan church, advocating for Back2Back’s Mazatlan site alongside Rodo and his wife Becca.
Becca was deep in conversation. I slipped Malakai out of her arms and we walked a few feet away, so she could talk uninterrupted. I didn’t have any baby toys with me, so I pulled out my phone and we took pictures and played with the lights and music. I looked down at a picture Malakai had just taken and noticed his dimple.
That dimple. I had seen it before. Malakai is the spitting image of his dad. In the moment, I was temporarily lost in two decades of memories of Rodo. Rodo was the first male Hope program graduate and along with many other staff, Todd and I were personally deeply vested in his life.
Rodo told me how, as a Hope Program student, he had studied Todd and the other staff dads to learn how to be a husband and father someday. Rodo would sit in his room, looking out the window at our Monterrey, Mexico campus. He watched as Todd came home from work, grabbed our rambunctious boys, and took them to the field to run and play.
As I sat there reflecting, I realized while we were immersed years ago in the daily drudgery of waking up and driving Rodo to school, longing to see him be successful, God had both Rodo and Malakai in his mind’s eye. I could only see what I could see from my earthly perspective, but God could see all the generations that would follow Rodo. He knew that young man would grow to be a husband and then a father to a little boy whose home would have parents who loved him, each other and Jesus.
We informally surveyed the Hope Program graduates and recently learned Back2Back has 22 “grandchildren” – 21 of whom are living with their parents.
That is a generational game changer.
I am often quoted as saying, “Orphans and vulnerable children are not the result of financial scarcity, that are the result of relational brokenness.”
I love that Rodo and the graduates who have followed him have college degrees and the ability to provide for their families, but what I love even more are the valuable life skills they’ve absorbed from living with house parents and alongside staff: how to fight and make up and how to stick-with-it and see relationships as worth the work. I love how showing up every day sets an example that presence matters. I love most that Malakai will one day understand he’s in a redemptive story written by a heavenly Father with big plans for us all.