Monday, December 20, 2010

Children of Jericho

This past fall I celebrated 30 years of living and moving and having my being in Honduras. I set foot on Honduran soil on August 15, 1980 having no idea that thirty years later I would still be seeking His face on behalf of the Honduran people. What an adventure and privilege it has been to be a part of what Jesus is doing here. The Hondurans have become my people and I have become theirs. I still look like I belong in a different place but as long as I don't get too close to a mirror, I totally forget that I am blonde (well, more like blondish grey) and blue-eyed with speckled skin. To celebrate we kicked off our sponsorship program for our children. I am posting part of the sponsorship brochure here. If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact Gail Mellish at the address provided below!

Jericho missionary Hae Young Keoun with some of Jericho’s children

Children of Jericho

Jericho’s children need a safe place to grow, to know the healing love of God, and to receive an education. Jericho
Ministries is such a place. Many of the children have known abuse of every despicable kind. At Jericho they receive a Christ-centered education and are surrounded by the love of Jesus in their home situations. They attend Sunday school and church and participate in vacation Bible school or other opportunities for Christian growth. The
children receive counseling and are prayed with for healing for their past abuse.

Sponsoring a Child

One of the greatest joys in life is watching God do what the world deems impossible . . . He brings beauty from ashes, heals the incurable, and transforms the abused and rejected. You can be part of God’s transforming work by sponsoring a Jericho child. At the present time, Jericho has legal custody of 26 children who were orphaned or whom the courts deemed would not be safe with their parent(s). The full cost of sponsoring a child is $80 per month. This provides uniforms, school supplies, school lunches and snacks, and a portion of the tuition. Jericho also welcomes half sponsorships at $40 per month. Sponsors are encouraged to send an additional monetary gift of $10–$25 for your child for his or her birthday. You may also end a special donation for Christmas or special extra-curricularsummer activities (Jericho schools are year-round to keepchildren safe). Your extra gifts will be pooled with donations from other sponsors so all children will share in the celebrations and activities. The easiest and most consistent way to pay your sponsorship is to set up a monthly direct deposit from your bank account. This assures that your child’s needs will be taken care of. If desired, checks may be written to

STEC – Jericho Ministries
PO Box 781
Appleton, WI 54912

with your child’s name on the check. All contributions to Jericho are tax deductible. Jericho is audited to assure accountability to God and to you.

We encourage you to send a small personal or family photo and a short letter of introduction to your sponsored child. You may write as often as you wish. Your letters will be translated and delivered to your child. You can keep informed about the goings on of all Jericho Ministries through the Jericho newsletter. Sign up at the above address.

Blessings to all, especially those who helped celebrate the 30 year journey!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


"Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in" is a famous quote by my favorite poet, Robert Frost and I came across it this past week as I read a book entitled "The Prodigal God" by Tim Keller. The book is amazing. But I really wanted to write about home because I have been thinking about it a lot these days. My mother carefully embroidered a saying that graced the wall of our home and it said, "Home is where the heart is". There is certainly an ache in the heart to be in that place where one can be totally free to express dreams and joys and sorrows without fear of ridicule or criticism. I have felt it at times, and even if it was fleeting, it felt wonderful. One place stands out to me in a myriad a memories. We were having dinner, my dearest friend and her husband and their twin boys. I was back in the States on furlough and the two toeheads were preteen. We got to laughing about something so much that the laughter rose and rose until it just spilled out all over the place. And I felt I had come home.

It's that longing for home, that aching of the heart that I have been thinking about, not so much for me, as for my children. I worry about them sometimes. We are twelve all told. Do they feel secure enough? Do they miss their biological families? Do they truly sense they are home? They are my children and yet they are not. That is the tension we have all learned to live with on some level. They have come to live with me under a rented roof and each one has a specific story for why they are here. We are a makeshift family, born of necessity and longing rather than biological birth. I love them more than they will ever know. Last night during our family devotions (long neglected which I am not proud to report) one of my children said, "Mom, why don't you wake us up at 5:00am so we can read the Bible together like we used to?" And then the whole lot of them chimed in with, " Yeah Mom (only it was in Spanish) let's do that again!" I was kind of in shock! Who has children who beg them to wake them up at 5:00am for prayer and Bible reading? Suddenly it occured to me that God is answering my prayers for them. HE is their true Home and they have a thirst for His Presence that can only come from Him. How blessed am I to be a part of this rag taggle band of thirsty children.

How blessed am I to be a part of this, His Home.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Yesterday I returned to my brood of 11 after spending several days in the Villa and all I have to say is it is definitely a circus out there! A wonderful circus! So much happens in the span of one day. I came home feeling like I had been in the trenches and that there had been great victory. I am not sure how it looked from God's perspective but from mine, things looked good, very good. Three women still in the program, all 9 children alive and accounted for, all the volunteers still on board, and some cards finished and ready to be sold that the women had made. This is what happened yesterday.

Tuesday July 13

I take our three new women with me to a place called Potrerios. It's where the mayor's office is situated and we go there due to a land dispute. Our land to be exact. Some of us call them "those pesky farmers" but recently they have become more than just pesky. They have become downright difficult. The whole problem stems from their properties being without access. The original owner sold off his land in parcels and was not thinking ahead so the farmers insist on entering our property to get to theirs. Not a good situation in any scenario but especially in our case since our whole purpose in having the Villa is to provide our women and children with a reasonably safe and secure environment. We simply cannot have farmers trapsing through our property on a daily basis. We arrive at the Mayor's office after transversing about 20 miles of dirt road surrounded by beautiful pine covered mountains. The tiny village of Potrerios is picture-postcard lovely and totally quiet. The Catholic Church is the most prominent building on the square and the melon colored paint only makes it stand out more. The Mayor is attending someone else so we drink refrescos (sodas) at the tiny pulperia(think seven eleven in somone's living room) in front of the municipal building. When he finally is ready to see us, I notice a stack of unmarked folders on his desk. I greet him as warmly as is culturally acceptable and state our purpose (to get a copy of the purported paper that the farmers claim to own which give them rights to a portion of our property). The Mayor starts shifting through the folders, opening them one at a time, slowly looking at each individual sheet of paper, all the while stating that he is sure he had the paper several days before but now has no idea where it might be. He begins to make noises like, "I hope this thing doesn't get ugly" and his tone almost seems threatening. I make different noises. I tell Him we are not expecting "ugly" because God has always protected us and that we don't expect Him to abandon us anytime soon. The women just look at me wide-eyed. The mayor continues to shuffle papers in a half-hearted way and I finally realize that no amount of our sitting there is going to help produce the paper. I ask him, "Are you the mayor" because it occurs to me that this extremely disorganized person might be a clerk and perhaps we need to ask to see the mayor. But no, he is indeed the mayor and stands up at my question and shakes my hand in a very political way. Finally we agree that he will leave the paper at the police post close to Jericho Villa. I pray this is not just some empty promise.

On the way back to the Villa, one of the women spots a mango tree. It's full of very ripe reddish green mangos, especially at the top. She screams for me to stop the car. I am obedient because it's a long dirtroad ride back and the women could use a diversion. They are so thrilled that we have stopped. They secure permission from the ancient looking woman who appears at the gate to use the whittled branches near the trees to knock down the mangos. They scream like children as they bat at the upper branches sending the mangos flying every which way. They come running back to the car with their loot and tell me to give the elderly woman some money for the mangos. They say 20 lempiras when I ask how much. It's just over a dollar. The woman now waving at the gate seems happy. The women are ecstatic with their stash of newly aquired mangos. I wonder to myself if there is a fruit in my life that I would get that excited over. Wild raspberries....maybe. We leave the car halfway up the road to Jericho since it is impassable due to road work. They have to carry the mangos up to the Villa by hand. Some of the mango excitement starts to wane but not much.

Back at Jericho we settle down after eating mangos to study the Scriptures. The women are very giddy and are laughing with a tone that seems tinged with more mockery than joy. As we start the class with praise songs it becomes obvious that they don't want to sing. As we pray it occurs to me that there is a spirit of derision present. We pray against that and the whole tone of the class changes. The class is on deception versus truth. We take turns sharing some of the deceptions we have been privy to. I share about how I believed that if I could just find one man who would love me more than anyone else, that I would be OK (I think I watched too many cinderella type movies). I share how I made many bad decisions based on that deception and how God's Truth set me free. He is the One person who loves me more than anyone else. And His love is safe. One of the women shares how she felt like she had really arrived when she became the girlfriend of a major gang leader. She confesses that she loved the feeling of power because she could just talk to him if she had an enemy and he would send his thugs to do her bidding. She says it was a terrible deception but there is a curl about her mouth that betrays her. She is still tempted by this untruth that anger and violence will bring her well-being and control. I will see this fully come to light later in the day. We share more and then end the class with confession and prayer.

Down in the salon, which is our big spacious multipurpose room at the Villa, we set up the tables so that we can make greeting cards. This is one of our practical workshops. I have resisted making cards with the women for some time now because many of the ministries to women coming out of prostitution make greeting cards. I've seen many pictures of rescued women from Thailand all seated around a table making cards out of some natural material. It doesn't seem to me to be a lucrative proposition, this teaching card making. The problem is, it is my pride that makes me resistant. We want to be "different". We want to make something of great quality that will sell and help us be self-sustaining. Not a bad idea but God has been providing me with free card-making supplies and giving me design ideas even when I am past exhaustion and need sleep. So we are making cards today and I am very enthusiastic about it. Two of the women really seem to enjoy this cutting and pasting and sewing on of buttons. One in particular is showing some gifts in design. The third woman is restless and does not make any bones about her disdain for this activity. She is the woman who comes from a gang member background. She excuses herself to go and get a diaper for her one year old. She does not return in the time it takes to get a diaper and come back.

We are packing up the card making supplies when she comes running back into the room. She flings her arms around me and begs me to pray for her. The other women look on while I start praying for her. The other women ask me if they can go back to the kitchen for more mangos which frees me to minister to this very agitated woman/child. She is now confessing that she overheard some of the younger girls talking about her when she went for the diaper. Her "old man", the flesh came fully to life and she shares how she almost smacked this girl to smithereens. She brags about how it was easy for her to kill in the past and I do not doubt that. She tells me something stopped her. She thinks it is the Holy Spirit. I know it is the Holy Spirit and I am so glad that He is actually the One in Charge at the ministry. She shares even more about how she used to use violence to control others. She calms down just as Katie, one of our Villa volunteers, comes to confront her because although she has not used physical violence to hurt the young girl, it comes to light that she has pelted her with profanity and lies. This asking for forgiveness does not come easily but it is finally done. Both parties ask for forgiveness and seal it with a hug. I tell them that the consequences of their actions will be that they have to find some tangible way to bless each other everyday for a week.

On my walk down to the car I spot two men walking towards the shed where we keep our construction materials. I recognize one of the men and am overjoyed to see his face since we ordered doors from him back in January and haven't been able to connect with him since. The doors are for the main gate of women's apartments and now that we have women there, we desperately need the doors. As I greet him from a distance, I suddenly see his face contort into fear. Carl, our big grey guard dog, comes bounding behind me towards the men. They suddenly disappear inside the shed closing the door tightly behind them. I have to laugh at the whole scenario. Carl is not vicious but he does take his guarding seriously. His front teeth have all fallen out so he can't do too much damage but he still scares people. After several minutes I convince our doormaker to come out of the shed and he tells me the good news that the doors are done and that he will install them on Saturday. It's been a long wait but I pray that they will actually be in place by the weekend.

Eduardo and two of our Villa boys walk me down to the busito with umbrellas as it has started to rain. Eduardo is Elvia's son and he is volunteering at the Villa for a year before he goes to college. It occurs to me how blessed we are to have this young man in our midst. He is caring for the five Jericho boys and his spiritual maturity is way beyond his years. He delights in caring for these young gents even though they are not the easiest to deal with due to their backgrounds of growing up on the streets. I make a mental note to ask him about how God is working in him and through him.

On the way back into town, I am overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. Instead of being put off by the battles, I want more. Thoughts of staying longer the next time flood my head. I am excited to see new patterns being established in the lives of those living at the Villa even if they are only just small steps. The Holy Spirit has definitely made His Presence known to us in the living of the day.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Birth pangs

It is the second week of July 2010. Two years ago during this time I was flat on my back in an apartment in New York City taking chemo and waiting for God to fulfill His promise of complete healing for two incurable cancers. Earlier in the year(2008) we had three women come to us for help and we sensed that they were ready to enter the rehab program in the Villa. We were ecstatic to finally begin ministering to the women in a setting that seemed idyllic. The vision to help them find healing and wholeness through the power of Christ was becoming a reality and our whole ministry was abuzz with excitement. But after only a month, all three women independently of one another, chose to return to the city. One woman snuck out quietly leaving her two daughters behind, trusting that we would care for them. The inital excitement and anticipation that permeated the ministry atmosphere was replaced by a sense of failure and bewilderment. What had gone wrong? Why had we failed to help the very women we had so longed to minister to? What was God doing?

A month later I was diagnosed with amyloidosis and multiple myeloma. The whole ministry went into a state of flux. Now it seemed like God's grace that we didn't have the three women and their children in the Villa because Hae Young and Elvia, my closest co-workers in the ministry, would be able to take turns caring for me in NYC. So instead of the three women, we started the rehab center with the two young girls who were left behind and their cousin who had already been involved in prostitution at the tender age of 11.

The healing journey took time. I felt trapped in a body that seemed anything but my own. I begged God to heal me instantly but He had so much He needed to teach me in that time of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. He had so much He needed to teach all of us in that time of learning to trust Him for the impossible. The doctors said there was no hope and that death was imminent. God spoke to us over and over again that He was going to bring forth a complete healing. We chose to believe the Promises of God over the doctor's dictamen. It made all the difference.

The Lord spoke to us not only about healing, but about focusing on the children of the women. He seemed to whisper in our hearts that He was very interested in the next generation. And then He began to bring the children to us one by one until some of our households seemed so full that they would burst from the sheer number of children. It was good to be a part of the restoration of these young lives.....good and very stretching!

But I still longed for the women to come. We made visits to the streets and did all we knew to do but still the Lord seemed to restrain that part of the vision. I couldn't help but feel on some days (like when I was dealing with a little boy's tantrum) that someone had hijacked the vision and put a bunch of children in it's place. I experienced a sense of lostness that I had never before known.......It's hard for me to put it in words, but in those moments when I was alone (which were not exactly frequent in a household of many children), I would feel waves of a sentiment that I can only describe as "feeling adrift". As I cried out to God for anchorage, He led me to a verse that said, "Be Holy as I AM Holy". I knew that the word "holy" meant set apart for the Lord's use but when I looked it up in the Greek dictionary, the translation caught me off guard. It said something like this: forever ruined for ordinary life. Wow.....forever ruined for ordinary life. That made sense to me. Once we have tasted the radical wine of following Jesus all out, we are ruined for the common life. Nothing will fill us as fully as living the life He has called us to live. He began to show me that each and everyday I needed to be living out fully the purposes for which He had made me. The lostness that I was experiencing was because I am ruined now for anything except what He has called me to. Somehow through that revelation of scripture I understood that the call upon my life to minister to women lost in prostitution had not been rescinded....I just needed to wait upon His perfect timing.
We have learned over time that God's timing is often not ours. We might think we are ready for something when truly we are not. God had to get us ready for this next phase of the ministry. We needed to grow in our ability to love unconditionally, to listen more intently to His voice, and to be more dependent upon His Word and His power. We needed to decrease, He needed to increase. Walking through the valley of the shadow of death had produced much needed fruit.

Then the birth pangs began. We got news that the first woman we had met on the streets back in 1998 had come to Christ in January. We had prayed for her and visited her on a weekly basis for over 12 years. Her one and only son had committed suicide at the age of 13 and this event had plunged her into a despair that led her to Jesus. We were so thrilled to hear of her conversion and of the pastora who was discipling her in her neighborhood. I was disappointed that she didn't come to Jericho but oh so thankful that she had finally made a decision to follow Christ.

All of this is just the intro to share the exciting news that we have women in our program again! I have been timid to share this because I often compare the women's first months in the ministry to pregnacy. The first three months are the most tenuous.... and when you have experienced spontaneous abortion, as we have, you are more careful about sharing early on. It's hard enough to go through the disappointment yourself without bringing a whole slew of folks along with you. But I cannot contain the news any longer because we need your prayers. We have three women in the ministry at the Villa between the ages of 16 and 24! God is bringing in the much awaited lost lambs. Sara came to us in late April through one of our teachers. Maribel and Margarita came to us through a dear friend of mine who is a missionary here in Honduras and works with the children of these women being set free from darkness. We rejoice at this very long awaited blessing of ministering to the women whom God has placed on our hearts.

Monday, April 26, 2010

One of these guys looks just like the other

Dear Family and Friends,

I just have to write you about this amazing thing God did while the tipos (Ed, Noe and Dany) and I were in the US (or "usah" as people say here). Elvia called us during our trip and asked us to pray for two little ones who desperately needed a home. This is the story of how God touched a family in a particular way to open their hearts to receive these two very needy little children.

Someone called Jericho to ask if we would take the toddlers. The boy was 1 and 1/2 years old and the girl 2 and 1/2. Their mother is barely seventeen so if you do the math you can calculate her age at their births. Not a good age to start having children. This mother's story is another story altogether that I won't go into here, but suffice it to say she was not able to give the care to her children that they needed. Rumor had it that this young mother was on the streets and that her children were being abused. Family members intervened and asked us for help. Elvia responded as she always does. She took it to God in prayer.

She remembered Nora and George from our church. Nora has volunteered at Jericho often since they are in their thirties and childless after several miscarriages. Nora had time on her hands. A lot of it actually. Until now. She was thrilled when the call came from Elvia. Not only one child was available but two. She didn't blink an eye when Elvia told her all the extenuating circumstances. She was ready but she would have to pray and consult George. The problem arose when George did not share her enthusiasm for taking in children whom no one else wanted. George didn't yet possess the faith that consumed Nora.....that no matter what had happened in the lives of these little ones, God's love was bigger. His love could cover a multitude of sins. And truly these little ones had been sinned against.

Elvia is not one to give up easily so she came up with a plan. She invited the family to bring the two children to Jericho for an interview and invited Nora to come too. When the children entered, what they saw took their breath away. The boy resembled George right down to the expression on his face. And the girl.....well she was Nora in miniature. If you see George, which you will in the picture below, you will see that in looks he is not your run of the mill type of guy. What are the odds that this little boy would look like this man? Slim, I think. But God....well, you know how He is. Perfect in all His ways to be exact. Nora called George and told him to get his little patutee (Nora didn't say that of course.....I just like that word) over to Jericho as soon as possible, which he could since he runs his own printing business. Then Nora and Elvia set to work to shave off the little boy's head so that the lice would have no where to cling. When George walked into Jericho, he too was overwhelmed by what he saw. He knew this was God's plan for his and Nora's lives. He had a total eclipse of the heart. So in Jesus, the unwanted become the most desired, the castoffs become the beloveds. So you see why I had to share this with you......

Do pray for little Annie and Jeffrey pictured here with proud parents Nora and George!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

This Heart

Blessings All,

Below is a song that my son Noe's dear friend Eduardo wrote. Noe, Eduardo, and their friend Danny recorded it and so I wanted to share it with you. The four of us will be traveling to the New Wineskins Missions Conference in North Carolina right after Easter. Enjoy!



Give me oh Lord, a heart that only desires, to please you day by day
Dame Señor, un Corazón que anhele, agradarte solo a ti
A heart that is blind, to the pleasures of this World
Que no vea los deleites, que este mundo pueda dar
A heart that sees my generation, that is lost without you, Lord
Que vea mi generación, que perdida esta sin ti.


Give me that heart of yours, that beats whenever you speak
Dame ese Corazón, que late al oír tu voz
I no longer want to be a slave to my emotions
Ya no quiero ser esclavo de mis emociones y de la presión
I just want to be like you, and I need you more than life
Quiero ser mas como, tu te necesito hoy Señor.


Give me oh Lord, the strength that is needed, to be a witness of your love
Dame Señor fuerza para cada día hablar de tu amor
That your spirit , would fill, all that is in me
Que tu Espíritu llene todo mi interior
And be able, to fill this world, with a passion for you Lord
Para llenar al mundo con pasión por ti Señor.


Give me that heart of yours, that beats whenever you speak
Dame ese Corazón, que late al oír tu voz
I no longer want to be a slave to my emotions
Ya no quiero ser esclavo de mis emociones y de la presión
I just want to be like you, and I need you more than life
Quiero ser mas como, tu te necesito hoy Señor.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March updates

Towards a Road More Traveled

Many of you have visited us and
experienced first hand the rock n' roll ride that our road to Jericho provides. This adventure, by God's grace, will soon be a thing of the past! After much prayer and fasting (and due to the generosity of those who desired to help make the Villa dwellers lives at least physically less bumpy) we were able to start work on our long awaited road. The very rocks that caused us pain and jolted every joint both in car and body are now being sculpted and placed together to form a smooth vehicle- friendly path. That would preach, wouldn't it? Anyway, we are thrilled and hope that you will be too (especially those of you who will be visiting soon!) We are 1/3 of the way done and are praying for the needed funds to complete the road before the rains become too heavy to continue with construction.


Just when I thought my household was big enough, the Lord saw fit to give me one more child. I spoke to Him about it last night because to me it seems like we already have quite a full house. I remember growing up with that saying, "there's always room for one more" and God seems to totally agree with that. Not exactly being the mother of the year type (notes in the lunch boxes, special scrapbooks, folded laundry on each bed etc...not a happening thing at the Hake house and in our household everyone has to pitch in and be as independent as possible) I began to wonder if my mothering skills were up to yet one more child in need. But God seemed to be saying, "you can provide a covering, a safe harbor, a place of refuge for these little ones in danger." Valerie, or "Valdidi" as Isabella likes to call her (see the two of them in the photo) is Marlyn's niece. Marlyn (my oldest) has lived with me for almost 12 years and she is a huge help with the rest of the children. Marlyn helped to get Valerie into our school. One day Valerie's parents were having an all out fight in the streets over her when our busito (van) went to drop her off from school. The father was drunk and threatening to kill her if her mother didn't hand her over to him (she's only 5 so I cannot imagine what that would be like to try and process....your own father threatening to kill you!) Marlyn wisely did not let Valerie out of the busito and brought her to our home. I was going to say no, I really was. I was sure that 9 children was enough. But one look at Valdidi's eyes and the fear that was still alive in them, and I knew that "not my will but thine be done" was the correct answer. As you can imagine, we have all fallen in love with Valerie. Recently when she was having a weepy night, I asked her, "Valdidi,honey, do you know who loves you more than anything or anybody and who promises never to leave you or abandon you?" Fully expecting that she was going to say "Jesus", she looked up with her big brown eyes and replied, "Mama Betsy? " Oh dear, break my heart answer! "No sweet child," I said, "it's not me. I do love you but only One Person can truly love you like that and make those kinds of promises and His Name is Jesus! " Pray with me for Valdidi and for our household which I think has reached the full mark!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Answers to Prayer

Dear Family and Friends,

This month has been exciting and stretching in many ways. I am so happy to report that Julia was finally discharged from the hospital and she spent her first two weeks of recuperation out at the Villa. The children loved having her there and they took turns serving her and she prayed for them. Mutual blessings! Julia is getting stronger every day and it looks as though she will be strong enough to preach at the conference in Miami that was scheduled before she went into crisis. While Julia was in the AIDS hospital, God used her to help her doctor grow in the area of prophetic ministry. Her doctor (Varinia) is a dear friend of mine and one of my disciples. Varinia has been ministering on the AIDS ward for several years and has seen quite a few of her patients healed from AIDS. While Julia was in the hospital, God knit their hearts together for ministry and so Varinia will accompany Julia to the conference in Miami. God's ways are so perfect!

On February 15th, we initiated the school year at Jericho Christian School. We had been praying diligently about increasing the number of students at the school because during one of our weeks of fasting and prayer we sensed God encouraging us to ask Him for 60 students. We had been ministering to about 30 children in the school previously. We prayed for students of His choosing who would benefit from a stable environment and a solid Christian education. We prayed for children who were at risk to enter gangs, prostitution, and / or the world of addictions. God faithfully answered our prayers with not only 60 students, but by the time it was said and done, 80 children were signed up to receive education and ministry through Jericho. It was amazing to watch God lead us to the children of His choosing. There are so many in need ..... we had to have His direction.

It was a very exciting and stretching first day! We specifically wanted to EMPHASIZE two areas of outreach ..... The "Early Learning Center" for ages 0-3 years and the Jr and Sr High School. Our Canadian staff member, Jaime, (photo at right) Seemed the perfect fit for the little ones and she speaks English to them during their time with us to jumpstart them in that language. Elvia ((photo below) Had a burden for the youth so she is heading up the Jr. High and High School. Several of the students have already given their lives to Christ under her leadership, thanks be to God. We have big dreams for these young lives and know that God is going to do miracles!

As a result of our desire to be faithful to God's dictate to reach out to the next generation, my household has increased. It's not something I actually planned ahead of time. I certainly would not have Increased our size by three all at once but God's ways are not our ways and certainly this venture falls into that category. Julio is 13 years old, is in the 5th grade, and is Maryln's younger brother. He is a quiet sort and extremely helpful like his big sister. Julio lived out at the Villa last year after he was removed from his home where he had gotten involved in unhealthy activities with his neighbors. He did super well at the Villa and we sensed that it was time for him to join our family in Teguz. We are all thrilled with this. Yoly (pronounced (Jo-lie) is 14 years old and she comes from Marlyn's neighborhood. She has a difficult family situation (gangs, addictions) but she is very motivated to study. Her Mother wanted her to quit school to care for her two year old half-sister, but when I heard about Jericho School Yoly from Marlyn, she begged her mother to let her come and live with us so that she could attend Faith Christian High School Jericho. In the short time she has lived with us, she lost one of her cousins ,who lived in her home, to gang violence. The third child, Dariana, is 6 years old, and her family was displaced by hurricane Mitch back in 1998 so they live in a settlement way outside the city. Dariana's mother is Isabella's Aunt, so she found out about our school during her visits to see Isabella (my youngest child). The school attracted her and she asked if Dariana could stay with us during the week since they live too far to come on a daily basis. Dariana is quite spirited and already on her first day with us she socked a boy who was looking at women under the dressing room stalls at the department store where Marlyn was buying school clothes for the kids. I think we are going to have our hands full!

Katie Hutjens from DePere, Wisconsin Jericho joined the family on Feb. 4. Katie grew up in a church that supported me so she grew up praying weekly for someone named Betsy Hake. Several years ago at the urging of a friend, she decided it was time to finally lay eyes on her church's missionary and to find out more about the ministry. As the Lord would have it, she came to Honduras when I was on the healing adventure in NYC and so she ended up living in my home and helping to care for my children but we never met. When Katie returned last summer, God made it clear to her that she needed to serve at JM for a longer period of time. Katie will be with us for at least two years, and we are thrilled to have Katie. She is full of energy and joy and the children just flock to her. She is teaching English at the Villa and is in charge of the boys which can be very challenging at times. Katie has a blog which you can access from this site. She has a fresh way of describing life at the Villa and we are all enjoying watching God use her to bless the children. Katie is truly an answer to prayer.

And that brings me to Fofo (Rodolfo). He is Elvia's brother-in-law and he is God's answer to our prayer for a father figure for the children living at the Villa. Fofo visited Jericho in December with his wife, Miriam, and the children started calling him Papi Fofo. Try saying that 10 times without stopping! Not only did the children take a liking to Fofo but Hae Young sensed that he could be of great help to her, especially with the boys. God began working in Fofo's heart and he understood God was calling him to help at the Villa. He is a retired merchant marine who worked as a chef so the kids love it when he gets in the kitchen. Miriam works for Continental Airlines, hence Fofo can fly whenver he desires. Fofo and Hae came up with a plan. He would come once a month and stay for a week. We thank God for Fofo and the way he has taken very seriously this call to provide paternity for our children at the Villa.

Please pray for the Jericho family, especially for the teachers, staff, volunteers, students and new, as we all adjust to the changes that growth brings. Pray that God will continue to provide for all our needs.

With love always,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

On Mirna's Passing

It was one of the worst ways to die. She was alone in a teaching hospital in a developing country, in a coma after being hit by a car. Her family members had no idea what had happened to her since she went out late one evening and never came home. They didn’t go looking for her until three days had passed since she would often disappear on drinking binges. They found her in the morgue with one arm morbidly bent out of shape since the doctors didn’t bother to cast it. It was not the way her two daughters had envisioned God answering their prayers. Ever since she abandoned them at the Jericho Villa Rehab Center in January of 2008, Genesis and Vanessa had prayed for their mother Mirna. Mirna came to Jericho through an invitation from her sister-in- law, Indira. This is what Mirna shared with us when she came to Jericho.

Little by little, my eyes were being opened. I could see that I was not doing anything good. I wanted to change because I was hungry and cold, and wasn’t sleeping well on the streets. We were getting sick from sleeping on the floor in an abandoned apartment without electricity or water. The girls cried in fear at night, and I started to pray to God. I asked him to help me and my girls. Indira, my sister in Christ, found me and invited me to a church called “Oasis of Love” and the next day Indira brought me to Jericho Ministries to pray for me and my daughters. There I found people who belong to Jesus and who help prostitutes and the addicted in need of God. I felt that my life was worthless. Picturing myself on the streets without food or a home, I decided to make the effort to take a step forward. I realized that I didn’t want my children to become like me. I didn’t want them to live the painful and horrible life that I had led, bound up by the devil. But, Jesus loves us and wants to forgive us for all our sins. I ask my Lord to give me the strength to keep going forward with help of my sisters at Jericho Ministries.

Mirna entered Jericho when Genesis was 6 and Vanesa 8 (Mirna is 2nd from left with Vani and Genny Penny in front of her in the photo)but within a month of starting the program, the lies of the enemy seemed more real to her than the Truth. She decided one morning to abandon not only this new venture but her two daughters as well. Once she made her decision to leave she walked quickly down the mile long dirt road to the bus knowing that her daughters were in a place where they had a roof over their heads, food to eat and love to spare. But being abandoned by your mother is not an easy thing to digest, no matter what your age is. These two young girls, already having suffered tremendous abuse because of their mother’s lack of mothering, would now suffer being left behind. It took some time but little by little they adjusted to life at the Villa. Hae Young was their new “Oma” (Mother in Korean) and Tia (Aunt) Elvia would often invite them to stay with her in town on the weekends. They began to grow stronger as did their prayers for their mother’s true conversion to Jesus. They envisioned her back with them at the Villa, living happily together, learning to live in the ways of God. Sadly it was not to be.

Mirna came back to Jericho a week before she died to take advantage of a medical brigade that we offer once a year to the women on the streets. She assured me that she was going to change her ways and enter the program at the Villa “soon”. She hugged her daughters close and both girls had such hopeful looks on their faces. No one could have known that she was actually hugging them goodbye. I read a bumper sticker once that said, “Life is fragile, handle with prayer.” Life truly is fragile. We do not have any idea when we will go onto glory land or to the abyss, depending upon our decisions in the here and now. That’s why the Scriptures say, “Today is the day of salvation.” We can only be sure about the right now. I don’t know if someone out there needs to read this but I am sensing I need to write it. It’s not a politically correct thing these days to talk about being eternally separated from God (hell). But it is a reality. It can and does happen. We need Jesus, not only to live a life of power and love in the here and now but for the not yet. He is our blessed assurance of life eternal. Do you have that assurance? Are you living for Him in the here and now and trusting Him for the not yet? If not, the remedy is very simple. Not “easy”, but truly “simple”. You merely have to submit your life to Jesus and allow Him to take control. Much easier said than done but it is the truth.

We took the girls into my office to tell them the news. We had already decided that Vanessa and Genesis would now live with Elvia and her husband Tony since they would need more attention. A bond had occurred between this couple and the girls from their earlier weekend visits. As I spoke out their worst nightmare, both girls visibly crumbled, one onto my lap and the other onto Elvia’s lap. I don’t know how long we stayed there just rocking them as they sobbed and sobbed. We anointed them with oil and prayed for Jesus to bind up their broken hearts and restore their broken dreams. There was no explaining why this had happened. We tried mostly to thank God that He knew way beforehand that these little ones would need a safe place where they could receive love and learn to trust again. We prayed for Him to fill the emptiness that only He can fill when someone so dear has been lost.

I thought about the girl’s prayers for their mother. God answered in a different way, a way that made no sense to any of us. But then I remembered something Mirna had said. She had breathed this almost like a prayer, “ I realized that I didn’t want my children to become like me. I didn’t want them to live the painful and horrible life that I had led, bound up by the devil.” Perhaps this was God’s way of answering the prayers of the mother for her children. I don’t know….honestly there are so many things that He does that I do not totally understand. I just know that I trust Him even when His ways are not mine. Especially when His ways are not mine.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Julia's Healing

The call came in the middle of the afternoon. Excited would be putting it mildly for how Julia felt about this day. Over the weekend the doctors had decided that they would discharge her from the hospital. She was so ready to leave her hospital corner (she had shared a room with six others for over a month) to go out to the Villa. But it was not to be. At least not today. Elvia got the news first and came flying up to my office to get me. Somehow in the span of one day Julia had taken a turn for the worst and her potassium level (high or low, I do not know) was affecting the rhythm of her heart. So off we went to the hospital to see how we might help.

She was in the “intensive care unit” of the AIDS wing (actually there is no ICU on the AIDS wing, it’s just one bed where they keep patients that need intensive care until they can get them transport)and I could just barely see her through the crack in the curtains surrounding her bed. She was sitting upright with heart monitoring wires hanging from her chest. She was conscious and motioned for us to come to her so I just went right into the tiny curtained off area. Elvia hung back because unlike me she actually heard the warnings in Spanish that were being flung our way. No one was supposed to visit her since each visit seemed to send her heart into even more of a flutter. I don’t know how long I stood there before I realized that were yelling at me to get out of there.

The doctors seemed terribly worried and they decided she needed to go to the government teaching hospital since there would be no doctor on call until the next morning. This was not good news. No one wants to go to Hospital Escuela because it is understaffed, understocked, and overpopulated. Often when there aren't enough beds, patients are placed in the hallways and left there for hours. Sometimes they die in those hallways. But there was no other choice. Julia would have to go. There was a flutter of activity to get her ready but suddenly they hit an impasse. There was no nurse to accompany her in the hospital van. Suddenly Julia’s doctor realized that Elvia, doctor that she is, could substitute for the nurse they needed.

Meanwhile, I remembered the verses that God had given to us regarding Julia’s diagnosis….they were still taped to the wall. I went and pulled Luke 7:1-10 off the wall and put it with the discharge papers that were in Elvia’s hand. We needed to be reminded in the middle of the crisis that God had already spoken the outcome. This might seem silly to some, to make such a fuss over a Scripture, but if there is one thing I learned from my healing adventure, it is that faith moves the hand of God. He loves it when we move in the realm of faith, when we trust what He has to say despite the circumstances. “For without faith it is impossible to please God.”

They wheeled Julia to the van and carefully moved her into the vehicle while I ran to our KIA long bed pickup truck. Adrenaline was definitely flowing as I jumped into the pick up to try and follow the rapidly moving “ambulance”. The van swerved to and fro through all kinds of side roads at a speed that caused poor Julia to lose her entire lunch all over her hospital gown. It was hard to keep up but somehow I swerved at the same pace with the van so that I arrived at the hospital just in time to see the guards close the gate tightly behind it. I quickly found a spot to park and flew across the street while breathing this prayer, “God, please make me invisible!” There is tight security at the public hospital and to get in you have to have a special slip of paper that is given to one or two members of the patient’s family. I walked right past the guards at the gate which was now open again to admit another ambulance. No one said a word. The driver of Julia’s van saw me and motioned me towards the glass doors that I had to enter to find Julia. The guards there did not notice me either and I easily found Elvia and Julia in the emergency room.

The emergency room cubicle was tiny, just barely big enough to fit two gurneys with room for one person to move in between them. Several interns showed up and one gruffly asked me what I was doing there. Thinking that he was clearly getting ready to kick me out, I sheepishly said, “I am with her”, pointing to Julia now trembling on the sheetless, pillowless steel gurney. To my surprise he said, “OK, hold these papers”. They were the same admission papers that we had brought with us including the Scripture diagnosis. I smiled broadly and took the papers from his hands. The minutes ticked by and there was much coming and going in the emergency room but no one seemed interested in Julia. When the interns did pop their heads in to ask why we were there, as they discovered her diagnosis the reaction was always the same. They stated flatly, “Oh, HIV positive,” then they turned quickly on their heels to look for a more desirable diagnosis. One intern even said under his breath, “I wonder why they brought her here!” Julia just quietly took it all in. When I asked her how she was doing, she looked at me wryly and said, “God is birthing more patience in me.”

By now her sister had brought a blanket and a small pillow, thanks be to God. Eventually they kicked us all out of the tiny room and still Julia hadn’t received any medical attention. I began to wonder, too, why God had allowed us to come to this place which was so much worse than the AIDS hospital. The sense of helplessness was overwhelming. Out in the waiting room, Julia’s mother began to weep. The Lord reminded me that He was in control so I asked the family if I could pray with them. We made a little circle by the entrance of the hospital holding hands and began to implore the Doctor of doctor’s for help. “Oh God”, I prayed, “please send Your angels to help Julia.” Not more than 2 minutes passed when I looked up and saw a young intern walking by and I recognized him. Isaac had been a translator for a dear friend of mine (Dr. Ken Holden) who is a pediatric neurologist from Charleston and comes biannually to do medical brigades. Isaac showed up at my door one quiet afternoon just over a year and a half ago with a huge bunch of lilies that Dr. Ken and his wife had instructed him to buy for me. I was home alone, still sporting a rather pregnant looking middle and mustard yellow eyes, both results of my liver not quite behaving normally. What I remember most about meeting Isaac was that my dog Carl almost killed me as I tottered to open the gate for Isaac. Carl, a rather largish dog was his very excitable self and when I received the flowers, he jumped up and nearly knocked me over. But I digress. Isaac looked weary but when I tapped him lightly on the shoulder he turned and a look of amazement came over his face. “Oh Betsy, it’s you! You look so different! What are you doing here?” I proceeded to tell him the whole story of Julia. He assured me that he would help us and a sense of peace washed over me as he related that he would be “on call” all night. Isaac was our angel from God. He not only escorted me back into the emergency room to be with Julia, but he somehow located an EKG machine and began placing the leads on her chest. I steadied the machine as he moistened a wad of used paper with alcohol since there was no cotton available in the hospital. It was a makeshift operation at best but I didn’t care, I was just so relieved that Isaac was helping Julia and her famliy get the needed information on the status of Julia’s heart. By God’s grace, it was almost back to normal. All three of us in that tiny cubicle breathed a sigh of relief.

Julia finally was released from the ER in the wee hours of the morning. Isaac visited her off and on during the night and made sure she got the attention she needed. She hadn’t slept much but her pulse had stabilized and the emergency was over. God heard our prayers and used a young intern named Isaac to make them a reality. I bless that boy, Isaac. He reminds me of another Isaac whom God used to increase the faith of a man. Abraham’s Isaac. Isaac is seen by many Christians as a prototype of Jesus. Our Isaac was definitely a prototype of Jesus to us. I praise God for the way he stepped in to help when no one else even seemed to care. There’s a song I love that is in Spanish and the chorus goes like this: This is the reason I love You, this is the reason I praise, You gave me love when no one else loved me at all.” That’s our Jesus, for you. Stepping in and caring when no one else wants to care. I like that in Him. He is full of stubborn, refusing to give up,miraculous, healing love. Thank you, Beloved Jesus, for your persistent, healing love for Julia. And thank you for using Isaac to remind us of Your amazing care for the lost and lonely, the rejected and dejected.

Thank you so much for praying!

Until the next blog I remain,

your Betsy

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's on the AIDS wing

It was the smell that lingered long after I had arrived home. Nothing else about the hospital visit on New Year’s Day seemed noxious but the smell, well, it was not pleasant. But I could not seem to shake it. My beloved friend had been diagnosed with AIDS long ago but her symptoms had not appeared until years later. And now she was in crisis and the doctors said it was the end. She was in her twenties when it all began, according to her mother. While she was sleeping, her mother informed me of the details.

She was in her fourth year of med school when she met him. He had not studied and instead had spent his time making money by selling things. Her mother didn’t elaborate on what those things might have been, but he was successful enough to throw money around in a big way. Her mother did not like this young man; in fact she loathed him. She told Julia she would not be allowed to see him, so the romance went underground. They became secretly engaged and Julia was convinced that sleeping with him would not be harmful since they would be married soon anyway.  Little did she know, her beloved was a carrier of the AIDS virus. Before she would find this out, the strangest thing happened. He had a stroke and had to be hospitalized. Julia would hurriedly return from her classes at the medical university to spend her nights caring for her lagging fiancée. She was devastated when he died of what she thought was a brain tumor.

She became depressed. Nothing seemed worth any effort but a friend of hers insisted that she start going to a nearby church. When Julia realized what Christ had gone through on her behalf, she gladly accepted Him into her life and her life took a turn for the better. Joy returned and she began to realize that Jesus was her beloved, the One she was looking for to fill the void in her life. She began to fast and pray and study the Word of God with a passion. Med school became a thing of the past as she spent hours with the pastor’s wife, searching the scriptures and praying for wisdom.

When she went looking for a job is when she had the unfortunate experience of learning that she was HIV positive. She could scarcely take in the words as she read the lab report. AIDS…..the dreaded leprosy of the 21st century had taken up residency in her body. AIDS, in a country like Honduras, is especially dreaded because ignorance about the disease leads to rejection and rejection to being shunned. So this young woman made a promise to herself: No one would ever know that she had been implanted with a seed of death. She would take the medication and live as normally as possible. Her dark secret would remain just that……a dark secret.

The plan worked for some time. Years went by and Julia grew strong in the Lord. She shared His Word and was used powerfully by God. Her prophetic gift was used to encourage many, giving direction and hope when hope was gone. When the doctors told me I had incurable cancer, she was one of the people who laid hands on me and proclaimed that this was “nothing” and that it would be used for His glory.

Secrets sooner or later always come out into the light. Julia had just started traveling to minister internationally when the symptoms of her secret started to unfold in her weakening body. To keep the promise she had made to herself, she told everyone that she would be taking a sabbatical from ministry to rest and to seek the Lord. She was resting but not only from ministry. Her body was slowly shutting down.

God used a friend of hers (Miriam) who was visiting Honduras to get her to the hospital. Miriam, one of the few who knew the truth, contacted her sister Elvia and together they were able to help Julia get into the AIDS wing. This wing leaves much to be desired since it’s not a high item on the federal budget. Still the warmth from the little community that had formed out of a common need made it a bit more bearable.

When Julia woke up from her nap, we spent some time reading the Bible with her. I was encouraged because despite her very emaciated and yellowish appearance, she had not lost her sense of humor. We joked about how our roles had switched. Now it was my turn to tell her “this is nothing….just a little something for God’s glory”. God led us to Luke 7:1-10 entitled The Faith of the Centurion. This prominent man had a beloved servant and he believed that Jesus could heal him by just “saying the Word” and so Jesus was amazed by the Roman officer’s faith. As we read the last two verses, it was as if they pushed themselves deep into our hearts. “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel. Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.” We knew God was speaking and that His diagnosis was different from the doctor’s. We sensed that these verses would become the foundation of our actions in the days ahead.

And so we pray, and ask you to pray, for Julia. God has promised healing and so we are believing God. For we walk by faith not by sight and faith is the assurance of things unseen.

Under His healing wings,