This is a guest blog from a Patch Our Planet board member, Timothy Mark. We asked Tim if he would tell us about his recent trip to Guatemala with our strategic partners, Children’s HopeChest. Please follow the links in this post to learn more about CHC’s campaign to “Change Their Story“!

A few weeks ago the director of missions at my home church approached me in the lobby before the service began. She asked me if I would be willing to go to Central America for a week to look at some ministries there. “Sure,” I said, without hesitation. She laughed at me because I didn’t even ask for details. But she also knows my adventure loving spirit and my heart for missions.

So it was that the last week of October I flew to Guatemala with her and another leader in our church. I was excited to go. Our goal was to review several ministries for a possible long-term partnership with our church. On a personal level, I was also thrilled because our host for this trip was Children’s HopeChest. As a board member of Patch Our Planet, I was aware of the ministry of Children’s HopeChest because of our strategic partnership with them, but I had never experienced their work first hand.

It can be daunting for a church in the United States to partner with another ministry overseas. How can you know if you are working with a legitimate ministry? How are your funds actually used after you fly back home? We genuinely want to help change the story for orphans around the globe, but how can you know that your partnership is actually making a difference?

These were the questions that were tumbling around in my mind as the plane touched down at the La Aurora International Airport. We were met by the staff of HopeChest Guatemala and were taken to the guest house for debriefing, a meal, and rest.

The following days were a blur. We visited five CarePoints, each in a different stage of development. One of the ministries was relatively new and the need for partnerships most evident. Other ministries were more established, but still the benefit of more partnership was clear. Each of the ministries had been vetted by HopeChest for integrity and mission. At each place we had time to meet the staff and care givers and to ask any questions that we had. It was humbling to meet these individuals who are giving their lives to care for these children. And it gave me great comfort to know that HopeChest had already taken the time to build a relationship with each ministry. It was safe for us.

From a CarePoint side of the coin, HopeChest frees them to do the ministry they are called to do by taking care of communications with the partnering church in the States. HopeChest serves the local CarePoint by updating the local church on the lives of the children that are sponsored and the ongoing work of ministry. In this way, both partners benefit from the relationship with HopeChest. It was remarkable to witness.

As a follower of Jesus, what moved me the most was the lives of the people who were leading the CarePoints we visited. These people were putting it all on the line to change the story for these kids. In the end, we partner with people. We can call it a CarePoint, or a ministry, or whatever, but in the end it is people that we are connecting with. People like you and me who are simply trying to live out the life of Christ, and that makes all the difference.

As a church, our challenge is no longer wondering if the ministry we are partnering with is legitimate. Now our challenge is to decide which CarePoint to partner with. I know that we can make a difference, because the men and women leading these CarePoints are already making a difference in the lives of these kids and their communities. They are already changing the story for these children. We’re simply giving them the tools to write the next chapter.

You may not be an adventure junkie like I am, and you may not have any desire to leave the comforts of home to travel overseas. But you can change the life of a child by getting involved today. How can God use you to Change Their Story?