I have a front row seat to great international leadership during this global pandemic. The Back2Back international site leaders are leaning into the wisdom only God can provide, and making decisions I greatly respect. I would gladly serve under any of them. Each of the Back2Back sites have responded faster than even their local governments, devising the best strategy to meet the needs of children and families. They have created plans for ongoing contact, resourcing, and connection. Amidst what feels like a giant global traffic jam, the Back2Back team is still serving. This season has reinforced to me personally, I am grateful to be on this team, and grateful for this calling.
My great-great-grandfather, HJ Guckenberger (1880-1962), served for 58 years in Cincinnati on the General Protestant Orphan Home Board of Directors. When he died, an article published in the Cincinnati Enquirer said, “Of all hisenterprises and hobbies, the Orphan Home was closest to his heart.” It seems the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. His business success would bless Beth and I years later in 1998, with the financial resources to internationally adopt our son, Evan. The last seven generations of my family have invested in the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children. On all the days this gets really hard, I think about calling and legacy.
The last several years have been unique for our family, as we have lost an unusual amount of family, friends, and co-laborers, the kind of people who felt like “our people.” 2018 ended with the loss of Back2Back founding board member, Mike Ellison. Beth and I often talked about Mike as a venture capitalist for the orphan. He risked time and resources to invest in the lives of orphans early on, before we had it all figured out.
In 2019, Beth and I lost one of our dearest friends and family members, Meme Alarcon Cano. Many who served alongside Beth and I in Monterrey knew her well. An orphan once herself, she fought for others to know their true identity. In her final days, she couldn’t remember her name, but she could still sing her favorite praise song.
Our good friend and Back2Back advocate, Dick Gyde, died late 2019. Eulogists shared at his service in December of his generosity and servant heart. Many individuals, including myself, could have shared about his investment in each of their lives.
A few months ago, Junior Sanchez, one of the first Hope Program students, died suddenly of a heart condition. I visited him in the hospital two weeks before he passed, and he was what we hoped for: a man now dependent on Jesus, interdependent in his community, and independent and economically sustainable. He now is fully healed and fully known by his heavenly Father.
I received an email from a grandfather who wanted to teach his granddaughters about giving and legacy. He was willing to make a donation to any organization and allow his granddaughters to decide who would benefit. Both granddaughters decided to give to Back2Back Mazatlán, where one had served as an intern and developed a heart for children with special needs.
This isn’t even an exhaustive list. I have been hearing themes of legacy in each celebration of life I’ve attended. I’ve been talking to donors about sharing their lives with others and leading their families in this direction. I am convinced: each one of us builds a legacy every day through our actions and words. We are grateful for the ways you are investing in orphaned and vulnerable children and families. This work could not be done without you choosing a life of generosity. Thank you.
To read more stories of hope and legacy, check out Back2Back’s 2020 Spring Magazine.