Guatemala is one of the most intriguing places in all of the world. It is the place historical sights such as the ancient Mayan city of El Mirador. It also has natural beauty that most people would not expect from such a wild and exotic place. From beaches to volcanoes, mountains to vast jungles, Guatemala is a place rich with God’s most breathtaking creation.
Yet, within the the context of such beauty is a tremendous amount of injustice. Guatemala is one of the most crime filled places in the world. It is one of the highest places for crimes such as murder, thievery, kidnappings and drug abuse. There is incredible poverty in Guatemala and many families are forced to survive in very inhospitable conditions. As a result, there are levels of human depravity that are often very disturbing.
In the midst of impoverished and broken communities and homes are children, and they are typically abandoned, forced to work at young ages, and are often the victims of hostility and abuse from their families. It is not uncommon to run across children who have been abandoned by their parents, or put on a bus and sent to a location where they are told not to come back home. As a consequence, children are forced to go to the coffee and sugar cane fields where they will earn a wage as low as $1 a day. Many children are abused sexually and physically by family members or trafficked on the streets before the age of 10. Hence, there is an enormous need for a Gospel message to a culture that lives in the presence of so much darkness.
It is here that an orphanage was birthed in 1986 called Casa Shalom. Casa Shalom is in a rural village a few miles outside of San Lucas, Guatemala. The orphanage takes in children from all over Guatemala and is truly a place of peace in the lives of 105 children that have suffered some of the most heartbreaking tragedies imaginable. Yet, Casa Shalom provides a place of shelter, healing, and a chance to be built into a promising man and woman of God.
Here, orphaned children experience first hand the power of the Gospel. Directors Josh and Jessica Hanson are two incredible missionaries who have given their lives to walking out the mission of the Gospel in the lives of every child that steps through the doors of Casa Shalom. The orphans at Casa Shalom are offered hope in what was an utterly hopeless growing up experience. Many of these children were rescued from coffee fields where they were forced to labor at extremely young ages. Many of them have experienced starvation, abandonment, sexual and physical abuse. Yet, Casa Shalom provides them with the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The children at Casa Shalom are offered a place where they will have an opportunity to grow up in an environment that promotes Christ. They will be given an education which is somewhat rare to find with children in Guatemala. They are taught trades such as farming, baking, and the girls are even able to learn how to cut hair professionally. But most of all these children are provided with a family of 105 brothers and sister, a staff that loves them unconditionally, and are introduced to a Savior that heals them completely. The value of such a mission is more than fulfilled in the smile of children who were once utterly hopeless. Casa Shalom sees neglect turn into college educations, weeping turned into laughter, abandonment turned into families, and all if this is possible because a few are willing to take Jesus to the least of these.
There is a great need for such a work in Guatemala. Many of the children suffered much tragedy and loss before coming to the home. At times, there are still dangers that the caregivers and children face, despite immense measures taken to protect them. But there is hope for their circumstance. You may take part in this story. Simply take a moment today and pray for Guatemala and Casa Shalom. May God continue to make it a place of peace for generations to come!