Everything Changes

Graduation days rock! They are beautiful, TANGIBLE reminders that lives really are being impacted by our work. They also help me remember why we do what we do: because EVERY life and EVERY soul matters!

So who are we celebrating today?!? The Guitierrez family! A family of 5 that live Jinotepe. A mother named Rosa, three little boys aged 13, 12, and 10 named Danny, Brandon and Alexander, and one little princess of a girl age 9 named Valeria.

They are spirited, tough, and full of life. But they weren’t always this way. I first met the kids of the family in 2011 though the church I was attending in Jinotepe. It is hard to believe we have been working with them for four years! Man, how time flies!

How the Story Starts

Sadly, the story of this loving family begins like so many others in Nicaragua. Rosa married early in life and almost immediately began having children. Her husband – like so many other Nicaraguan men – started off kind and sweet, but as each child arrived he grew meaner, crueler, and restless. Not too long after Valeria was born he decided he was done.

He just left them. No help, no money, no explanation.

He simply walked out of their lives.

Left all alone, Rosa was hard pressed to provide for her family. She was immediately thrust into an even greater poverty than they had been in, leaving her homeless and hungry with her children. She quickly scraped together what little they had and was able to make it home to her parents in Jinotepe.

With a roof over their heads they hoped things would get better, but they did not. There was no money, and without money there was not enough food, not enough clothes, and certainly not enough to buy school supplies or non-essential medical treatment.

In addition to the weight of hunger, the whole family was dealing with the emotional trauma of abandonment – especially Danny, the oldest boy. He had the most memories with his father and remembered exactly what it felt like to watch his dad leave.

It was an overwhelming period of time that cut deep scars that are still healing today.

Enter the Church

One of the mother’s at our church had begun bringing the children to church on Sunday whenever they wanted to come. I remember little Valeria clearly, walking down the center aisle to an open seat with her head down, nervous, and seemingly embarrassed by her tattered clothes.

I also remember Danny. His head was not down – it was held high in defiance. I watched as I saw a little boy trying to be a man, but having no idea what that meant. He was acting tough and indifferent, but like so many other little kids in Nicaragua, you could see the hurt in his eyes.

It was there. And it was deep.

That is not all I remember though. I also remember the kindness that the members of Jinotepe showed all four of the kids. I remember how they were embraced, accepted, and invited back.

It was a beautiful image of the body of Christ loving those around them.

Walter Steps In

Shortly after I met the family I moved back to the United States, leaving Walter in charge in Nicaragua. One of the first things he did was remind me of the Gutierrez family. They needed help and he felt he could provide it.

I agreed and shortly thereafter they were added to the single mothers program. Walter drove to their home and explained the program and the educational requirements to Rosa. Once she understood that there wasn’t a catch, that it truly was what it seemed, Walter watched as the relief and gratitude washed over her.

She stood there and wept as she asked why we would be willing to do something like this. The question we love more than any other.

“Because you are a child of God and He loves you. You see, these aren’t our dollars, these aren’t our beans or our rice – it is all His. We are simply stewards of it and we believe you and your little ones are the ones He wants to receive it.”

All the while Danny was listening.

Years and Tears

Over time Walter became accepted into the family. He proved himself trustworthy and someone they could rely on. As he became more and more involved, he was able to get to know Danny more as well.

Danny was angry. He was angry at his father. He was angry at his mother. He was angry at his teachers, his friends, his siblings, and even angry at Walter. Recently, in talking with a child physiologist, I learned that anger amongst little boys is almost always a sign of depression. The more angry the little boy, often the more depressed he is.

It couldn’t make more sense with Danny. The abandonment of his father left him insecure and seeking validation, hurting deeply but unable to show weakness because he was now “the man of the house.” The end result was Danny started to turn to other little boys with similar backgrounds – the local gang.

Walter tried to counsel Danny on the dangers of hanging out with his new friends, but their destruction, rule breaking, and commiserate anger was too alluring for Danny to walk away from. Soon he was skipping class, coming home smelling like cigarettes and glue, and even getting into trouble with the police.

Walter knew this needed to stop or his little life would be lost to the streets like so many others. So Walter sat him and down and talked to him like a father. It was a hard conversation, one that left Walter concerned he had been too hard on him. But it needed to be done and I am so grateful that Walter loved this family enough to do it.

Something awoke in Danny and after many more conversations Walter was able to get to the root and address it.

“You are loved, Danny. God loves you, your mother loves you, your siblings love you, I love you. And Danny, God loves you too. Your father was wrong. What he did was wrong. He should not have left. But he did and there isn’t anything that change that. But know this: it is NOT your fault.”

Tears formed. This was hitting home.

Life Changes

Over time Walter was able to also able to share that God is Danny’s true father. One that will never leave him, forsake him, or abandon him. He has been able to show Danny how God was there all along – even when it didn’t feel like it.

Now Danny is in school every day, he makes good grades (the picture to the right is of him proudly holding his report card!), he has stopped skipping class and hanging out with the local gang, and he is much less angry. He is still working through all that has happened to him, but when you hear him speak you can tell two things. First, that he has more peace than he has ever known. And second, he knows that he is loved – both the Lord, his family, and our team.

The pictures below are from his graduation into middle school that just occurred this year (something that a low % of the male population accomplishes). When you look at them, please take a moment to see them as I believe the Lord does. These pictures represent far more than a graduation – they represent a soul level change that the gospel has brought forth. They stand for the impact that the Lord has had on Danny’s heart, slowly transforming it from a source of hurt and anger into young man that is becoming a man after the Lord’s heart.

Thank you – especially PB – for your support of this family. We couldn’t do it without you.

Chris & Team


  1. Robert Middleton says:

    Great news about Danny and family…three cheers for Walter.

  2. [...] you remember the family in this blog post? Long story short, it is a single mother and four little ones that were abandoned by their father. [...]

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