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Families Find Hope through Good Shepherd Christian Academy

The people of Santiago and Cerro de Oro, Guatemala know the pain of tragedy and death first hand. On October 4, 2005, torrential rains from Hurricane Stan caused massive mudslides down the face of the volcano next to the village. Over 1,000 people died and the village was buried under volcanic mud, rock and debris. Now, the families remaining live in temporary housing in a field adjacent to the village as it is slowly being rebuilt. These families are in extreme poverty and most of the children do not go to school.

In the midst of this tragedy, a Baptist pastor who grew up in this community has taken a leadership role in helping minister to those affected by the crisis. Pastor Diego partnered with Orphan Outreach to create a private Christian school next to his church El Buen Pastor to meet the needs of many of the children who do not have access to education. Good Shepherd Christian Academy opened its doors in January 2009 as a preschool and elementary school with approximately 120 students and has grown quickly to serve children through the 6th grade and has close to 200 students.

While these families will never forget the pain they endured that tragic day, they now know the HOPE they have in Jesus Christ. Pastor Diego and his team have worked hard to minister to these families in their time of need, providing practical support, discipleship, and now even pastoral care training to those the Lord has called to shepherd His flock.

I had the privilege of interviewing just a few of these families on a recent visit to the Good Shepherd Christian Academy and knew their stories needed to be heard.

luisa-sephora-andreLuisa & Sephora Andre

Luisa was devastated after her husband died 7 years ago and had no idea how she would care for her daughter, Sephora Andre, who is now 10 years of age. Just one year after he died, Sephora Andre was able to start attending Good Shepherd Christian Academy and the family started attending El Buen Pastor, the church attached to the school as well. Luisa works making traditional Guatemalan clothing but unfortunately that does not allow her to be able to care for her daughter and send her to school. Without the blessing of sponsorship, Luisa knows that her daughter would not have a hope for the future. She first thanks God for the blessings He has bestowed upon her and also expressed her gratitude towards the sponsorship program. She said that she asks the Lord to multiply the generosity of so many on a daily basis.

dolores-sosofDolores & Magdalena

"I have given you nothing, but you have given my daughter a future..." she muttered with tears in her eyes. I had the privilege of meeting Dolores Sosof and her beautiful daughter Magdalena who is 12 years old and in the 6th grade at Good Shepherd Christian Academy. Magdalena is one of the few children in this area who are blessed to live with both her mother and her father. However, neither of them received an education so they spend most of their days searching for work often making barely enough to feed the family. While their extended family is all deceased, they feel as though the staff at Good Shepherd has become like 'family' to them. The sponsorship program is a huge blessing to Magdalena and her parents.

rosariaRosaria & Fabiola

As I approached Rosaria I could see the hope in her eyes... and after talking with her I now know that she has a renewed sense of hope due to the ministry of Good Shepherd Christian Academy. Rosaria is a single mother to Fabiola, age 12. Fabiola is in the 6th grade at Good Shepherd, works very hard at school, and has made her mother so proud. Rosaria makes very little money working at a local bakery and she thanks the Lord for the blessing of an education for her daughter and a way out of the hard life she had previously. While these communities may not look a lot different from the outside, slowly they are being rebuilt. Children are receiving an education, a way out from the cycle of poverty that has been in their families for generations. Church leaders, though coming from poverty themselves, are being the hands and feet of Jesus to families in need. Family by family, house by house, this community is being rebuilt… sometimes in the form of a new home because of the generous blessing of a mission team, and sometimes in the form of spiritual guidance and fellowship, truly living in community the way the church in the book of Acts is described.

~Christi Ucherek, Orphan Outreach Guatemala

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