By Lindsay Allen friendship-makes-a-differenceIn Guatemala, World Orphans serves orphans and vulnerable children through a “home-based care” (HBC) program. In this type of program, one of our local church partners identifies 10 to 20 children and families that are the most in need in their communities. Then that church has a committee of about 5 members who regularly visit those families, bringing them food baskets, encouraging them, praying over them, and sharing the Gospel.

One family in particular, the Martinez family, has been facing significant trials, but God is using a small group of believers from Jesucristo Rey church to impact this family in mighty ways. The Martinez family is made up of 4 children, Samuel (3), Diego (12), Matias (14), and Joaquin (15), and they are all cared for by their grandmother Sofia. They live in a small house with just 2 beds for the 5 of them to share. The children’s mother, Sofia’s daughter, is addicted to drugs and is a prostitute, unable to care for her 4 children. Grandma Sofia is a “waste picker” and does her best to provide for the family by selling plastic bottles, cardboard, and other recyclable materials.

Unfortunately, Grandma Sofia could not afford to pay for school fees for the children. So they have not been able to attend school and are mostly illiterate. The two older children, Matias and Joaquin, have also developed a drug addiction. Grandma Sofia had begun to lose hope. Her family was living in extreme poverty, and it looked like there was nothing more she could do for her grandchildren.

After the committee from Jesucristo Rey church began visiting Sofia and her family regularly, she no longer felt so alone. She said, “I now know I have friends I can count on.” She also said she has reconciled with God, after nearly losing her faith in Him entirely. Sofia now has hope for her family, and she and her grandchildren faithfully attend the services at Jesucristo Rey. The youngest grandchild, Samuel, is now in preschool, and his older brother Diego will hopefully begin school soon as well. The oldest child, Joaquin, feels motivated to change his ways and is interested in learning more about God. He is also going to start working as a cook to help provide for the family.

This is how the local church becomes a beacon of hope for families who are struggling to survive in difficult circumstances. When it seems like the world has forgotten about them, it is the church who is reaching out its hand to these families, lifting them out of their despair and leading them to the Hope of Christ. And while families can certainly benefit from resources like food baskets, it is friendship that truly makes a difference. Grandma Sofia did not regain her faith and her joy because of a food basket. It was because she had friends she could count on! She began to see the love of God displayed to her and her family, and it stirred her spirit. Let us all as believers see the value in simply building meaningful relationships with others, and God will use those relationships for His glory!