Recently while preparing my end of month report about our ministry, I was struck by just how it have grown in the past few years, specifically in regards to the number of classes that are being taught in our ministry. From 30 classes a month to 300.
When I added up the Bible classes, computer classes, discipleship groups, math classes, IT classes, English classes and educational reinforcement classes that were taking place each month in our program, I was blown away at how God has increased scope and breadth of what is happening here.
I got to thinking back on where we were a few years ago and how we were doing things then compared to how we are doing them now.
Here are a few of my observations.
You Have to Recruit
2 Timothy 2:2 “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
Several years ago, pretty much all of the classes were taught by Sharie and me.
We taught discipleship groups, led Bible studies, ran the carpentry workshop at the orphanage and taught the cooking, computer, and English classes.
It was a lot of work, but we loved it. Sharing the truth of God’s word with people and seeing it come alive in their hearts, teaching life skills to orphans and giving them the skills sets they need to succeed in life is very rewarding and helping young men and women understand what it means for them to be a child of God is an incredibly joyful experience.
We had a good ministry, and it was bearing fruit. Yet pretty much 100% of it depended directly on us. If we weren’t there, the classes didn’t happen.
As our community center program began to take form, we hired our first employee, Eduardo, a teacher from a Red Zone of Guatemala that we had become friends with. He worked for us part-time at first, and it was during that time that we began to see just how much more could be accomplished if we were to teach and train others to do our job.
With time, as our ministry expanded, and we moved our center to a bigger facility and we took on our second and third teachers to work specifically teaching the Bible and tutoring classes.
As we hired and trained additional teachers, we saw a greater and greater impact, not just in the number of classes that we were able to teach, but in the quality of what we were able to teach and depth of what the kids were able to learn.
The power of identifying, training and empowering the right people to do the right job in the time and place that God has given you to do ministry and have an impact is vital.
Training Others is Key
It’s not just enough to get the right person. You have to teach, train and develop them in the skills, giftings and abilities that God has given them so that they can grow into their fullest potential in Christ.
Having a heart or desire to serve is essential, but if we expect people not just to serve, but to serve well, we have to show them how.
So much of what we have done over the last few years has been working to develop our staff, not just teaching or telling them how to do things, but taking the time to do it with them so they really, truly grasp the core values of what our ministry is here to accomplish.
Finding the Right People
1 Timothy 6:11 “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”
You need to find the right people, and it isn’t always readily apparent just who that is. First and foremost, we are a ministry, so identifying the people who genuinely have a heart for ministry is vital. We have yet to find the magic formula for this, and we have invested in some people who turned out not to stay in our ministry, but the time we spent investing in them was Kingdom work that God will use at some point for His glory.
I remember talking with Mike Douris, the founder of Orphan Outreach, an organization we partner with about how they choose which organizations to partner with and he told me that they look at the heart of the leader. If their heart is right with God, then you can wrap around them with support and services to enable them to do a better job, but if their heart is not right, no matter what you try to do, you won’t have the impact you desire.
We have also found in our ministry that it takes a specific skill set to work with vulnerable kids from difficult places, and not everyone is cut out for that.
All of our staff live in the communities where our centers are located, and this gives them a valuable perspective and understanding of the challenges and difficulties that our students face. They also often know the students and their families and can leverage those relationships.
It Takes More Resources
Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Yes, it has taken more funds to do the work that we are doing now. Having six staff who teach 300 classes instead of my wife and I teaching 30 classes is more expensive, but it’s twice as expensive, not 10 times as expensive.
Hiring local staff not only provides jobs in a country that desperately needs them, but it is an efficient use of resources as it is more economical to pay a local than to bring in additional missionaries even if we still have to be here to teach, train and supervise them.
A big part of the reason that this ministry has grown so dramatically has been because of people like you who have partnered with us to be a part of what God is doing here.
There is no way we could have done this without the help, prayers, and financial support of people like you. You have chosen to give to God’s work today in a way that will make a difference for eternity.
Most of the donors we have are people that I barely know. They heard me speak at a church, share at a Bible study, found us online, or started getting spammed with my newsletters. Ha! Somehow God connected us.
We have always worked hard to be responsible with every cent that we get, to be faithful with the resources that people give to our ministry and to ensure that we use every donation according to the donor’s intent.
The Bible tells us that “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” Luke 16:10. I believe that all the years spent just plodding away in our ministry being faithful with the little that God had given us was God training us in the small things so that He could trust us with something bigger.
Striving For Excellence
Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
God calls us to serve people and to serve them well.
We are called to strive for excellence, but if we don’t know what excellence is, how can we reach it? Spending time reading, studying and seeking counsel from those with more time and experience in the work we are doing has played an invaluable role in helping us develop a healthy, informed understanding of what we need to strive for and helped us know what we are shooting for.
Once we knew that the direction we were heading was the right one, that goals we were seeking to attain were in the best interests of those we were called to serve, then we gave our best efforts towards achieving them.
Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”
Partnering with the right organizations and ministries has been instrumental in our growth. It took time, years in fact, to identify the right partners, but it was worth it.
Being able to leverage the strengths of another organization when it comes to working towards a mutual goal enables both partners to achieve their mutually agreed upon ends. Some of the key partnerships we have made that have catapulted us forward over the last few years are:
Casa de Libertad. Working in partnership with and under the covering of our local church has been hugely instrumental to our ministry. Not only does it provide us with the spiritual covering needed to ensure that what we are teaching is theologically sound and culturally relevant, but it keeps us, as missionaries, accountable in a very personal way that helps us to stay spiritually healthy.
Orphan Outreach. They say the best relationships are made when both sides think they are getting the best deal. We have definitely felt like that since partnering with them. We first connected with them six years ago, and during that time, I was fortunate to receive guidance, mentorship, and counsel until we were invited to partner with them in our community center program. It was a long time coming, but it gave us time to truly understand each other and confirm that we were indeed on the same page in what we were trying to accomplish.
Cross Culture Jesus. A fellow missionary in Guatemala handed us the work she was doing that led to the launching of the second Cadanino Community Center. Starting with a facility, equipment, funding, and staff who knew and loved the kids gave us jump start on expanding our ministry in a way that has born incredible fruit.
Taking Steps of Faith
Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Time and time again we were faced with situations and opportunities that we simply didn’t have the resources to meet, from renting a bigger facility to hiring more teachers.
Yet at each and every moment when we stopped and prayed about what to do, we were able to look back and see all that God had done, how He had led and guided us each and every step of the way to get to the point where we were, and that gave us the faith to step out in faith to take the next step in the journey of where God was leading.
Sure enough, He met us each and every time.
Seeking God and Staying Desperate
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Maintaining our spiritual life and walk with God has been crucial to getting this far. As parents of six children running a ministry of six staff and 150 students can leave you feeling overwhelmed at times.
Spending time reading God’s word, taking time for prayer, and worship and fellowship with other believers has been fundamental to us keeping up with the challenge of the work that God has placed before us.
I’m sure I haven’t covered everything that has gone into going from 30 classes a month to 300 as only God truly knows, but as I have thought, prayed and studied God’s word, I can see that while many of the steps we took were grounded in scripture, ultimately we are where God wants us to be, when He wants us to be here doing the work that He has for us and He was the one who caused the growth in the work we do so that He might be glorified.
If you, like us, want the privilege and joy of being a part of the work that He is doing here in Guatemala in this time and place in a way that will make a lasting impact for eternity, then click below to partner with us.