Alianza Cristiana para los Huérfanos Gains Strength in Guatemala
by Ronne Rock Posted on Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Cesar Eguizabal is best known by individuals and churches serving in Guatemala as the Missions Coordinator for Orphan Outreach. He also serves on the board for the Alianza Cristiana para los Huérfanos (ACH) – Guatemala’s Christian Alliance for Orphans. Eguizabal and the alliance are supported by a growing number of churches and NGOs – including Asociación Niñez con Futuro (Orphan Outreach's NGO in the country) – as they work to provide resources and education, and to encourage more Guatemalans to serve orphans through family preservation, foster care and adoption, and by caring for those who have been rescued from abuse and neglect.“The situation here in Guatemala is really hard,” says Eguizabal of the orphan crisis in his country. Currently nearly 400,000 children are orphaned in Guatemala, primarily due to abuse or neglect.The alliance focuses on three primary initiatives: adoption education and support, the ACH Conference, and Orphan Sunday. Cesar shares, “We are working on a partnership with the CNA, which is the entity in Guatemala that processes and does all the adoptions here.” The goal is to increase the number of adoptions taking place in-country. While international adoption has been closed since 2008, domestic adoption is legal and encouraged. Interest in adoption is slowly growing in popularity, and the ACH is developing partnerships with local churches to help families throughout the process. Currently, two large churches are leading the charge in adoption care. The first is Fraternidad Cristiana with pastors Alex and Aixa Lopez (featured above). They themselves are adoptive parents, and their church has opened its doors to provide support groups called Corazóns Fertiles (Fertile Hearts). “Last year they started the first one, and this year we already have four groups in all Guatemala City - we are about to start a fifth one,” Cesar continues. The second partnership is with Vida Real Church and their social outreach ministry, I58 (based on Isaiah 58), which focuses on equipping the church to “follow the mandate we have from the Lord to care for widows and orphans.”A nationwide ACH Conference is set for September 17th. The first conference, held in 2014, was the catalyst for the launch of the alliance. On the heels of the conference, Guatemala will join countries around the world in celebrating Orphan Sunday in November. Because the ACH’s goal is to be a link between churches and individuals and the thousands of orphans and vulnerable children in need in Guatemala, Cesar says, “We are the ones who are sending them off to different group homes and children’s homes in Guatemala, and we are also sharing some tools of equipment that they can have to help them serve those children well.”Cesar says the ACH is also providing critical insight to those who have expressed interest in starting children’s homes or orphan care ministries in Guatemala. “We’re trying to educate them on exactly what that looks like, because when they have good intentions but they don’t have the experience, that can be an interesting process. We’re starting to see that families and people are passionate about getting involved. They just need that direction, and that’s why we’re trying to find the best way to do that.”Cesar asks that the church in the United States pray for the church in Guatemala as they rise to serve orphans. “Even though we are in different settings maybe or different environments, we are all the same and we’re all created by the Lord and we have to be reminded of that every day." Cesar also asks that prayers be lifted up to heal their country of prejudice and racism. “My prayer is that we – as a country and as the body of Christ – as a church can really just get rid of that. We can just pray God really to give us open minds and open hearts so we can be a blessing to many kids and many families down here.”Your church can partner with local churches in Guatemala to serve orphans and vulnerable children. To learn more about church engagement opportunities, contact Rey Diaz at firstname.lastname@example.org.