The Cumbre por los Niños Marginados conference last week in Mexico left all of us who were a part of it abuzz. It had all the markings of an early but very real movement in Mexico of Christians rising as the answer for the orphans of that nation.
On the eve of Summit IX in Nashville, it was exciting to hear how the vision for Cumbre sprang from last year’s Summit. As Todd Guckenberger and other leaders with Back2Back (which carried virtually all the on-the-ground load of organizing the conference) explained to me, they came away from Summit last year desiring strongly to take their work in Mexico to another level. They wanted to move steadily toward providing more family-based care options wherever possible, and also to invest heavily in helping Mexican churches catch a vision for serving orphans directly and personally. That’s exactly what happened at “Cumbre.”
The variety among the hundreds of attendees was remarkable. Rich and poor. Pastors and lay leaders. From near and far. One pastor—a short, swarthy man with high cheekbones and a ready smile—came from a community of shanty homes built by the government to house victims of a recent flood. Many of his congregation members “don’t have two pesos to rub together.” But several that attended with him left certain they DO have something to offer: a loving home. They, and the pastor himself, are intent on opening their homes to children in need of families, whether through adoption, foster care or otherwise.
Another pastor and his wife came from the other end of the social spectrum, having lived many years in Europe and now pastoring an affluent church. They too left with a deep conviction that the local church—their church—was called to be part of God’s answer for Mexico’s orphans. And they planned to be the first to open their home as an example to the rest of the church.
Yet another pastor, Arturo Barrientos, came from far off Costa Rica. He and his church have recently begun caring for children through a foster-like program initiated by CAFO member Casa Viva. What Arturo shared with me stirred my heart: “Caring for these children has profoundly impacted our understanding of our faith, of God’s love, of Christianity itself.”
Arturo went on to explain this in very personal terms, for he and his wife have been among those caring for children in their home. He described one particularly painful, beautiful experience with words I’ll never forget. “[God] wants to teach you more of His love….I think God really allowed us the privilege of living all this to experience more of His love….To tell you the truth, as a disciple of Christ, I have understood in a deeper way God’s love and how we are loved by God.”
Pray that these words may be ever-more true for the church across Mexico and all of Latin America!