Growing Together at 12 Stones

Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, ‘Pass on before the ark of the Lord to your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever. Joshua 4:4-7

For many years, the gate at Rancho de los Ninos Children’s home in MZT welcomes visiting mission teams, announcing they are entering a place for children. Rancho de los Niños has been a special, sacred home for many years. Serving children with special needs is a calling, and Rancho is a haven for the children who need help, and the faithful caregivers who provide it.

In 2018, care at the home shifted to family-style. Studies, research, and experience have proven to Back2Back staff that children flourish and overcome obstacles when they live in family units, experiencing consistency in care. When this shifted, so did the need for smaller housing units. 

Rancho de los Niños Children’s Home is now to the left side of the property and provides family-style apartments for the children. What was formerly the children’s home on the right, is now Doce Piedras Centro de Dessarrollo Integral Infantil, (12 Stones Resource Center), a state of the art multi-resource center addressing and providing holistic care for every child, adult, and family.

The center offers to children’s homes, strong families, and foster families five crucial areas of development- spiritual, physical, educational, emotional, and social. 

The name, 12 Stones, comes from Joshua 4, when a monument of 12 stones was constructed to remember where God miraculously made a way for His people to reach the Promised Land.

The vision for the resource center is two-fold – provide holistic care and restore families.  “We want to walk alongside the families and share God’s love, helping them grow together,” shared Kristen Hallahan, Back2Back staff. If the family has a need Back2Back is not equipped to address, we resource them with services found in the community.

Not only is healing and growth found at 12 Stones, it’s where people who love children determine where they are best placed. Sometimes that means having a conversation with children’s services, and understanding a child’s needs and how equipped their family is in meeting them. Other times, it’s helping families seek other placement or working towards remaining together. The goal is always the same-  doing what’s best for the child. The staff know with each child and family they encounter, the solution will not be formulaic. They tailor every solution, equipping case managers to advocate for the family. 

One recipient of this kind of care is David*, a young boy who lives with adoptive parents in the community nearby. He started treatment at 12 Stones Resource Center at the end of 2020. When David arrived for treatment, his medical diagnoses were complicated, but he had the advocacy of his adoptive parents, and they were unwilling to give up on getting him proper care. 

David’s hands remained in tight fists when staff first met him; he was unable to hold his head up on his own for any amount of time, he didn’t react to sounds, and had severe spasticity (stiffness in his leg muscles), and no mobility in one of his arms. Consistent therapy and the support of his parents and dedicated staff at the center have allowed David to make generous strides in his abilities. He can hold his head up on his own for ten seconds, reacts to sounds appropriately, and is now able to move his limbs more freely. This is the power of dedicated and consistent therapies. 

The Back2Back community comes together to pray every boy and girl, mother and father, will be dependent on Jesus, interdependent in their communities, and financially sustainable and independent. It is the hope that above all else, everyone who enters the gates to Rancho de los Niños and 12 Stones Resource Center recognizes God’s miraculous and restorative hand in their lives.