How do you do this?
Love, Hope, and Community: The formula for making a difference
Back in 2007, a highly-regarded psychologist visited Esperanza Viva. Standing in the courtyard, tears streamed down his face while children swirled and laughed around him, virtually oblivious to the weeping visitor. Jerry (McNally) saw his response and quickly came to him and asked if he was okay. The doctor asked Jerry, “How do you do this?” This same question is asked, or thought, by nearly everyone who steps foot on an Esperanza Viva campus.
We often answer: “It’s simply God.” While this may leave you hungry for clarity, there is no system, recipe, or rigid process. There is simply biblical hospitality. You might ask, “What does that look like?” The staff creates an environment of welcome and inclusion. They do this by demonstrating kindness, acceptance, and gratefulness with each other and with the children while sharing meals together, doing mundane chores, and tutoring children through tricky school work. Then, children can follow by doing the same for each other. As God’s love is demonstrated, individuals are transformed into a community of hope.
Like in your own life, there are spiritual disciplines that the staff of LHI anchor into throughout their daily service that have a lasting impact on the children. The word of God is paramount. Through the regular study of Scripture within the kids’ dorms and small groups, prayer for one another, and fasting, the campus is calibrated to Christ. Additionally, the staff demonstrates a grateful perspective of God’s faithfulness as we worship Him through song and arts. While the focus on these areas may be taught in La Viña Ministry Institute, they are critical in all of our lives as we mature in our faith.
Within our community, each child’s story is unique. The little boy who stole just to survive now has his needs met, and the daily structure helps him develop positive new habits. The teenager who was forced to cover up violent crimes of family members, can now embrace healthy relationships letting God’s love renew his mind. The child addicted to intoxicating fumes like glue, is treated with kindness and acceptance and finds freedom from the daily need to dull the pains of life. The young girl who has been rented to men since she can recall, interacts with caring adults who don’t use her, and encounters God as a father that can be trusted to love her heart unconditionally.
To say “It is simply God,” is not downplaying His role. It is the straightforward simplicity of the Gospel and His greatest commands: To love the Lord and to love one another. As we all go about our daily lives, may those we encounter ask us, “How do you do it?”
During the visit of the awestruck Psychologist,
he would have met the Vazquez family of five. Before their arrival, Roberta, the second oldest at age seven, was being cared for by her nine-year-old sister during their mother’s long absences, until they were brought to live full-time at EV. Through the years, her creative heart has flourished. Most of her siblings have moved on from Esperanza Viva, but she and her brother, Emanuel, have remained in the care of EV. Now 19 years old, Roberta has made a big decision. A decision to deepen her faith and align her teachable spirit with what God has next for her by enrolling in La Viña Ministry Institute. Before she pursues her dreams, this season of cultivating what has been planted and growing in her for years will be an invaluable time of dedicated preparation.