Hands of Hope Program Director, Megan Cutshaw, shares a story from her recent trip to the Exodo Children’s Home in El Salvador
In the past two and a half years I have had the immense privilege of being able to join six Hands of Hope teams on trips to El Salvador. By God’s grace alone has that been possible, and to God’s glory I have seen what a difference a true, loving, lasting relationship can make in the life of a child and in my own life.
This January we took a small team to Exodo to stay on site. Our focus for the week was on our friendship with God and being a friend to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our first devotional was on the book, “You Are Special” by Max Lucado. The kids absolutely loved it! They were talking about Punchinello and the Wemmicks for the rest of the week (for those of you who haven’t read the book, there’s a read along on YouTube!). The book shares the value of spending time with God and the power of words as well as the power of God’s truth.
Our second night we had some of the young men prepare worship songs and lead us all in worship followed by time for testimonies. I introduced our time as an opportunity to share something you are thankful for or how you saw God in 2017. We talked about how sharing what God has done is an opportunity to strengthen the faith of those who listen and remembering how God has worked in us encourages and builds our own faith.
What happened next was more than I ever could have imagined. About half a dozen of the kids came up, one-by-one, and shared the testimony of their lives—of all that God had rescued and brought them from. For many this included stories of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. They shared stories of deep pain and heartache, stories of loss and of tragedy. And each child, at the end of their story, praised God for where they were now. Each precious little one was able to give glory to their Heavenly Father for the life he has ransomed them from. Each beautiful tear-stained face simultaneously brought great sorrow and great joy to a whole realm of Heavenly Hosts. As the night ended, the stories didn’t.
The next day, one of the children wanted to share her testimony with me privately. For the sake of privacy, I’ll call her Sally. Now, Sally is one of the sweetest and most gentle spirited young women that I have ever met. She is gentle, quiet, and reserved yet loving. The fact that she felt safe enough to share her story is a testament to relationships that are built over time at Exodo. I am confident that the first time I met her she would not have felt safe enough to share the intricate details of her life that she poured out over our hour and a half conversation. Sally shared countless stories of heartache and despair that I could never have imagined a child I knew would face. She then told me that I and another team member had loved her more than her mother ever had. As a twenty-three year old woman who has yet to have children, hearing that I have loved a child more in two and a half years than her mother ever did is devastatingly humbling, it is heartbreakingly touching, and one of our world’s greatest tragedies. Now, it is true that I love that child as if she were my own: I have her picture (along with others from Exodo) in the family tree on my kitchen wall, she knows that we expect an invite to her wedding one day, and you had better believe my husband will certainly interrogate her fiancé when that day comes; but I wish more than anything that I could take away the pain and the suffering each of the kids have experienced. I find comfort in knowing that God loves these children more than any of us ever could and that is creating beautiful masterpieces that reflect His glorious power and might in their lives.
I love all that Hands of Hope does, for children in foster care, for the orphan, for adoptive parents, and for those who serve in these areas; but, my favorite part of Hands of Hope is the emphasis we place on “going deep not broad”. We hold the ideal that going deep into the life of a child can change the trajectory of their life in a way that having a broad influence over many children can’t. I am blessed that God has enabled me to do that in El Salvador.
Over the past two and a half years I have developed a love for the children at Exodo unlike any I have ever known. A love that simultaneously aches and rejoices for where they are now and what they are to become. This is a love that can only come from a deep and meaningful relationship – a relationship where the kids know you care and you are coming back. In our case, the kids know that the second we are able, we will be on a plane to come and live near them. They know that we love them truly and deeply. And because of that, we, and others from Hands of Hope are able to speak directly and lovingly into their lives. This is a gift and a responsibility that I have seen more and more each time we visit and I am eternally thankful for the opportunity to speak into the lives of the children that we so deeply love.
-Megan Cutshaw, Hands of Hope Program Director
Upcoming Mission Trips
Hands of Hope will be sending multiple teams to visit children's homes in 2018 and would love for you to join! The following dates are scheduled and open for registration. CLICK HERE for more information and to register online.
April 2-8: Romaniv – Ukraine FULL
June 7-13: Exodo – El Salvador
June 21-27: Exodo – El Salvador
July 13-22: Berhan Yehun – Ethiopia
July 16-18: New Song Mission – Indiana
October 12-16: Exodo – El Salvador