THE REASON WE ARE HERE
The median age of Latin Americans is lower than in the US, thus the percentage of young people is higher in comparison with older people. The majority of these kids live in a non-Christian environment. Many grow up without a father figure present in the home.
Reasons for family disintegration in Guatemala are many. Some more common ones are as follows: cycle of poverty, lingering effect of past civil war, high birth rate, rural to urban migration, natural disasters, and health issues such as disease and malnutrition. There are many others. Every family has its own story.
The result is that children and youth often look outside the home for protection, identity, hope and a future. Formal education is often seen as less important than is “street” education. Gangs are seen to offer what a dysfunctional family can’t—identity, protection and hope. We all know that this is a false hope which often leads to imprisonment or death through violence.
As followers of Christ we know that Scripture exhorts us to defend the rights of the poor and fatherless (Ps. 82:3, Deut. 10:18, James 1:27). Proverbs 24:11 takes it a step further and asks us to, “Rescue those who are being taken away to death, hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.” Zechariah 11:4, 7 take it even a step farther. It states, “Pasture the flock marked for slaughter…particularly the oppressed of the flock.”
Engadi Ministries is called to do just this—rescue and disciple the youth who currently reside in the neighborhood called el Paraiso in Zone 18 of Guatemala City, Guatemala. A voluntary safe Christian after school program is provided within their neighborhood. Throughout their adolescent life, Christian mentoring is given as well as continual support to their family. A supplemental Christian family structure is provided through the brotherhood developed as an integral part of our program. While in Engadi’s healthy environment we hope the boys from troubling situations will become the Mighty Men of tomorrow that will transform Guatemala and the world from the inside out.
In Guatemala City there are dozens of ministries that focus on the devastating effects of poverty and violence that our neighborhoods are plagued with. A women’s shelter rescues young mothers that need a new start when they get out of an abusive relationship. Street ministries feed and clothe the homeless. Transformation centers help rehabilitate former prostitutes and gang members. Schools and educational centers focus on educating young kids. There are, however, no ministries that really help the men learn how to be better dads.
The reality in life is that the vast majority of the problems are due to the men. Guys are the ones dealing the drugs. Husbands for the most part are the ones that walk out on their family. Dads physically abuse their kids more violently. A large percentages of sexual assault is perpetrated by men. All of this without mentioning the extortion, threats and terror committed by adolescent boys in gang infested neighborhoods. If only we could change the future destiny of these boys as they grow up to become men, we can transform the lives of countless women and children.
Engadi focuses on reaching out to the boys because we can’t ignore the cancer and not just put a bandaid on the gushing wound. We believe that all the other ministries here in the city are needed, but unless we tackle the root of the problem we never will be able to transform society from the inside out. If we can truly help a boy grow up to become the man he is suppose to be according to the Bible, he will be a husband that loves his wife, a father that stays at home and a leader that transforms society from the inside out. Engadi focuses on boys for that reason. That is not to say that we serve the female population as well. Numerous of our scholarship kids are girls working hard to get ahead in life, as well.
In I Samuel 22:2 David is joined by many young men from troubled situations at the cave of Adullam. Years later in his life those men became know as Mighty Men or Mighty Warriors. It was in the Engadi Wilderness where those troubled boys became the Mighty Men they were named for.