Written by Brian Manley
Last month I was part of a group that visited Los Pinos Children’s Village in Guatemala. This was my first visit. The rich history of ICC is visible everywhere on that beautiful campus. The layout of the campus, home designs, farm, school and centrally located church speak of an inspired plan that God has ordained to nurture and care for vulnerable children in that country. As we walked around campus in the evenings, we enjoyed the sweet sounds of children singing during family worship. Their songs floated from their softly lit homes. The stars were more visible in the dark sky of that remote area.
We heard many stories of God’s provision and power in that project that longtime supporters of ICC may remember and cherish. It is because of the kind generosity of ICC family members like you that such testimonies are possible. And we witnessed that God is not finished working with the ICC family in Guatemala.
“Color!” The children excitedly ran their hands over the colorful markers laid out on a table. A nine-foot design was attached to a nearby wall. The design, created by Ken Wilson, ICC Media Director, filled the large paper with patterns of Guatemalan textiles. Like a moving beehive, the children worked eagerly to fill in the design with various colors they chose. They laughed and joked and took turns in different areas to fill in the words and patterns. Slowly, words emerged in the middle of the design: “Now More Than Ever: I love Jesus”. This special statement is our theme this quarter at ICC.
“Now more than ever, I love Jesus…”
Those words are a meaningful part of life on campus. Let me explain. Early one morning I joined two of our staff as they left campus in one of the project’s vans. It was quite cool that morning, but we kept the windows open to allow fresh air to blow in and dry up the foggy moisture on the front window. We drove over the rough, narrow roads through the jungle for about 20 minutes. We were on our way to pick up 18 children and bring them to Los Pinos school for the day.
These children are vulnerable, living in remote areas without access to school. Their homes are small, one room shacks where a parent or relative has cleared a little bit of land to try and survive. There is no electricity or running water in most of these little dwellings. Poverty and hardship surround the kids growing up in those areas. We arrived at a junction in the road where half the children were already waiting for us. The staff members greeted the children and asked about some of the others who they were waiting for. After about 15 minutes the rest of the children arrived one by one from out of dirt trails in the forest. They looked shy, nervous, excited…
The van door closed and, before starting off, one staff member (speaking in Spanish) invited the children to pray together first. Some of the little heads bowed, others looked around in curiosity. When the staff member finished a prayer and said “amen,” two little girls on the middle row said “amen,” too. They felt safe and secure to experiment with this new way of praying directly to God as a father. As we returned to campus the sun was piercing through the tree’s creating horizontal stripes of light across the road and pulsating reflections through the van windows.
When we arrived at the school the children spilled out of the van. They joined the other children from our campus in the central area between the classrooms. Soon they all lined up at their different classroom doorways where the teacher was standing to welcome them. They each received a warm hug and entered the classrooms for a day full of activity, learning and spiritual nurture.
On Sabbath afternoon we climbed in the van again and drove out to the area of the jungle where we had picked up the children that week. We entered single track, dirt roads and bumped along until we arrived at a small clearing with several huts around. What a joy to see the principal of our school there visiting the homes of the children. She carried her Bible with her and mentioned that she studied with some of the family members of the children who were interested in learning about Jesus. What a blessing to see our drivers, teachers and school principal living out such committed expressions of love for these vulnerable children and their families.
“Now more than ever, I love Jesus!” And He loves all the children of the world, including those in the jungle near Los Pinos. Thank you for sharing your love for Jesus by supporting the children!