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Shattered by Love at Casa Hogar

A child plops onto my lap. He gazes up at me, his irises glimmer, and he pokes a finger at my Coke. My nod signifies permission and thirst forces the drink to his lips. The last sip drips onto his tongue. He glances up at me and passes me the bottle. Innocence greets me in his eyes.

He nestles his face into my neck and his heart pounds against my chest. Love binds me to him. Language severs us and miles attempt to disconnect us, but love compels us to forget barriers. We sacrifice pride for vulnerability in this moment. Nobody sees, nobody judges, and nobody feels the force of love that binds our differences.

Reluctant beginnings
I was 16 when my parents first mentioned going to Acapulco with my church. I was living a charade, a bitter contradiction. Inside, I felt hopeless, hardened, stubborn, cold. Outside, I pretended that I was happy, that I knew who God was, all for the sake of fitting in at my Christian school and not embarrassing my family. I figured that I might as well go to sunny Mexico, where part of my family was from. That would make me a good person right?

A few months later when I arrived in Acapulco, I found myself startled by the state of the city. As our massive bus wound through mountains and down the bustling coast, we passed poverty-stricken slums then four-star hotels, destitution and then luxury. Upon reaching Casa Hogar, I started to question what I had signed up for. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t the bland concrete buildings and antiquated wrought iron fences. I wasn’t expecting life-sucking heat that drains the life from your bones. Most of all, I wasn’t expecting a swarm of children to rush up to the gate, their inquisitive faces examining our group, waiting for us to walk into this run-down place that they called home. The second I walked through that gate, I was captured by the arms of several overjoyed children. I recall asking myself, “What have I done to deserve this?” I didn’t quite know the feeling; I couldn’t quite find the words.

And then I felt it. Love.

That was the moment my life changed. The restrictive pain of a Jesus-deprived life was shattered and a new brokenness entered, the brokenness of one who has seen the conditions of this world, who has walked among the least of these, who must never be the same again, who understands that only love can heal it.

No longer alone
We are reassured by the Word of God that we are never alone, never abandoned when He promises, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you” (John 14:18). I was alone before I came to Casa Hogar; at least that is what the darkness desperately wanted me to believe. And that is what these children were, that was their physical reality. They were abandoned by those who were supposed to love them most. Some were beaten. Some were starved. Some were neglected.

I will never be able to understand the pain that the children of Casa Hogar have experienced. They have understood destitution, hurt, and loss, yet they give so freely and generously. They love so vividly. They move with energy. They welcome with open arms. Two years ago, I couldn’t bring myself to do any of those things. I look back at my life and it seems like another existence. There is only life before Casa Hogar and life after. Life before Jesus, and life after. I have now seen brokenness and I have been broken. However, I am not chained nor deflated by it. I am freed by it. Therefore I live with a passion. Jesus came to me. He did not leave me an orphan. He made me His own. He has instilled an ever-growing conviction in me to love others in their brokenness as he loved me.

I am ready to no longer be safe. I am ready to give up comfort. I am ready to answer the call to live in pursuit of ever-flowing, circumstance-ignoring, unadulterated love. I found that in Acapulco. I no longer see the kids at Casa Hogar as orphans, as I once believed I would. I see them as mine, as He sees me as His.

I no longer see beauty as merely beauty, nor brokenness as merely brokenness, for I have seen the beauty that springs from despair. Without Jesus we are broken and with Him we become beautiful in that very brokenness, for nothing of ourselves is good divorced from Him. And yet with Him, the work of our hands, the seemingly insignificant deeds our hearts provide through Him, can create community, can forge a love that echoes through eternity and into the home our hearts were made for.

Jesse Miller has traveled to Acapulco with Orangewood Presbyterian Church regularly since her first trip in 2012. She is currently a freshman at Seminole State College.

Jesse Miller, Acapulco Mexico Mercy Jun 22, 2015
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Pray for the children at Casa Hogar in Acapulco, Mexico, to know the love of Christ and the hope of family.

Pray for the kids in Aquiles Serdan neighborhood of Reynosa, Mexico, and the outreach of Isaiah 55 ministry there.

Last summer, Claudia came to faith through a summer trip. She has since been baptized. Pray for those who come to faith in Mexico as a result of short-term trips to plug into the church.

Pray for those who God is calling to missions, that God would clarify their call, and equip them to serve Him.

Give thanks for the work God is doing in South Asia in the wake of COVID lockdown relief. Ask God to grow the new believers who came to faith in Christ as a result.

Pray for God's work among migrants and refugees on the U.S./Mexico border. 

Pray for those in the urban slums of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who are struggling economically due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Pray for ongoing ministry in the Suki community during COVID-19. Many day workers cannot work, and the church is having to find creative ways to minister. 

Pray for South Asian communities in New York City who have been hard hit by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, and for God to use missionaries serving among them. 

Pray for the national pastors serving in Mexico and Cuba, many of whom are bi-vocational, and the work God is doing among them.

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