Guatemala (MNN) — Orphanages are traditionally supposed to improve the lives of children without a family. What do you think about an orphanage that blesses whole communities through the lives of the children? What if the children played an active part in growing the family of God?
Paradise Bound Ministries opened Open Doors Orphanage in Guatemala in 2011. Since then, 26 children have passed through, and they have seen improving relations with the government. Paradise Bound is seeing the judges send more and more children their way. They currently have 10 children living at Open Doors.
Dan Smith of Paradise Bound spoke to us concerning recent updates at the orphanage. Along with adoption, Smith explains, “We’re also part of the foster care system in Guatemala, and it’s kind of an emerging ministry.
“It’s exciting that we can have some of the children with us sometimes for a few months, sometimes for a whole year while their parents may go through treatment of some sort.”
Often times, children stay at the orphanage, waiting for their home lives to become more stable. Smith says to have them stay at Open Doors is significant because “once the judge determines that the child can go back to [his/her] parents, then we have that ability to be able to bring [the child] back and minister to the parents to be able to help them.”
There is often follow-up after the parents leave, allowing for greater opportunity to share the love of Christ with these families.
Already, it’s obvious that this orphanage isn’t just about the children. “It’s more than just a children’s home: it is an outreach,” says Smith. “It’s an outreach into the communities around us, which are very, very poor as they come in and help us with different aspects of the orphanage.” Paradise Bound has significant opportunity “to be able to minister to these families and couples.”
When couples come to adopt, they have to spend three full days at the orphanage before they take the child. The staff ministers to them at this time, building a relationship with the parents. In many cases, the orphanage continues to have a relationship with the adoptive family even after the adoption is final.
Smith says, “It is a beautiful, beautiful thing that God has laid out before us to be able to continue to do what we have for the 17 years that we’ve been in Guatemala: to weave the Gospel into everything that we do.
“As long as we have people praying and we are equipping people to pray properly and specifically, things are going very, very well within Open Doors [Orphanage].”
One big need you can add to your prayer list is the expansion of Open Doors Orphanage. Paradise Bound is purchasing land a third of an acre at a time, with hopes to build a new facility on three acres of land by 2019.
Pray that the necessary paperwork is completed successfully. Pray that neighbors would sell their property, realizing that it is for the good of the community.
“We want people to understand that this is not just a place to take care of children: this is a place to train them up in our Lord,” says Smith.
“We know that God’s going to turn many of these young people who are in our orphanage now into native pastors, native missionaries within their own country.”