By team member Chen-yian Wong:
Today was our “rest day” in between medical brigade 1 and medical brigade 2. It was a much appreciated change of pace after completing two days of hard work in the brigades. We did many things today like visiting a couple Honduran landmarks and hearing about WGO’s ministry in Belize. But for this post I want to focus on our trip to Rancho Ebenezer.
This morning we took a drive of approximately 2 hours out to visit Rancho Ebenezer, WGO’s children’s ministry. Yesterday evening, we heard a presentation from one of the Ranch Staffers. She shared about how the Ranch seeks to provide 24/7/365 long-term foster care to children who were either abandoned by their parents or were rescued from highly dysfunctional family situations. In such cases, Rancho Ebenezer seeks to provide a setting where emotional healing can take place and where their physical and spiritual development can be nurtured.
Going into this, I have to admit that I was pretty skeptical about how effective this program would actually be. Truth be told, I was quite amazed when I got to the ranch. Upon arrival, we were allowed to have some “play time” with the children. Of course I was super excited when an 8-year-old girl dared me to follow her to climb up this long rope that hung 20 feet from the top of their play structure. She quickly learned my name, and at that instant, we became close friends. I even followed her instructions on how to stand on top of two parallel bars. To me, all these children seemed like normal “American” children, playing, screaming, and laughing. They were all polite in introducing themselves with a handshake – for the small kids, it was a shy grin – and all of them were speaking fluent English.
A few minutes later, I noticed in the corner of my eye two young boys sitting next to each other. In my attempt to recruit them to join in on the fun, I called out to them saying, “Come! Join us!” But they sat there, not really looking at me, their eyes glazed and staring straight into a distant. So I quickly jumped off the parallel bars and walked up to them and introduced myself, “Hi, I am Chen, what is your name?” Still no answer. So I thought that maybe I had to speak in Spanish, “Hola, ¿Cómo te llamas? ¿Cuántos años tienes?” No answer. Blank stare into space.
One of the counselors, probably sensing my despair or embarrassment, came up to me and said, “These boys just recently came into the ranch.” And then I noticed it all. I saw that they were small but had noticeable scratch marks on the side of their face. One brother had what seemed like a darker scar or bruise right above his right temple. Both of them had the same glazed look in their eyes and very solemn and troubled faces.
When I saw this, my heart broke for these two boys. I finally saw what “at-risk” children had to go through. Sure, I had heard that their families struggled from alcohol and/or drug abuse. I heard about the neglect in the family. I heard about the fatherless homes and the mothers that do not take responsibility of their children. However, I never really expected to see how much impact a ministry like the Ranch can have.
It was at that moment that I saw first hand what Rancho Ebenezer means for these children. I literally saw the contrast of life transformation in front of my eyes. Here were two boys who had just been taken out of abusive family units. Contrast that with the 8-year-old girl who had been integrated into Rancho Ebenezer where she had grown up in place they call home.
I finally understood WGO’s heart behind Rancho Ebenezer: they cared about the children, but most importantly, they understood why God had ordained the family unit to be what it is. Sometimes, as Christians, we understand that God ordains certain things “for our good” even though we don’t really understand or see it in full. However, being able to witness the sheer impact of a loving family unit helped me understand more of the significance of having fathers who lead the family well and mothers who lovingly care for the home.
This was just one part of my day today, and I wish I had the world’s time to write more. But from this alone, I already can see a glimpse of God’s heart in why He creates and ordains certain things, which makes me want to obey Him more because I know that what He says is for a reason, and it really is for our good.