The worst place to be a child

Miguel lives in one of the most dangerous locations on earth. His life is at risk daily, and the most likely outcome is that he will join a gang for protection and belonging. He is 13 years old and, like many children on the streets of Latin American cities, he is addicted to alcohol. If it isn’t alcohol, it is drugs, sexual addiction, binge violence or a combination of each – anything to offer a temporary escape.

Miguel is known to SGM Lifewords through our Pavement Project. Sitting with a street counsellor he is hard and tense at first, but after going through the process and realising that there is genuine care and attention, he starts to cry as he shares his story. One can’t help but wonder: How did he end up on the streets? Who cares for him? What future is there? Can he find love, hope and redemption?

A DREAM BECOMES REALITY

When Brazilian missionary Viviane Pinheiro first heard about Pavement Project at a conference in May 2015, she knew it had the potential to make a huge difference in the lives of Guatemalan children-at-risk. On the overcrowded streets of Guatemala City, Viviane and her husband Rodrigo, minister to children living in poverty. They provide food and childcare for hundreds of families in a country where malnutrition affects 4 in 10 children (eight in ten among indigenous families). Guatemala is still reeling from a brutal civil war that lasted over 30 years, and poverty, social violence, drug trafficking and environmental disasters make life for its 15.5 million residents extremely tough. Gangs rule the streets in many areas and children are caught up in the violence. It has been described as the worst place in the world to be a child – physical and sexual child abuse rates are staggeringly high, children are murdered every day, and impunity is a grave issue.

Guatemala has been described as the worst place in the world to be a child

Viviane’s dream to bring Pavement Project to Guatemala became reality a few months after the conference when Carmen Andrade arrived to train the country’s first three PP workers. Alongside Viviane were Pastor Jaime Perez and Nora Mendoza. Together the group spent three days learning how to use the Bible-based counselling tool to bring God’s hope and healing to the children they work with.

BRINGING GOD’S LOVE TO VIOLENT COMMUNITIES

Pastor Jaime works in public schools in the capital’s slum communities. Guatemala City has the second highest homicide rate in the world, and most of the students he ministers to are involved in violent crime and drugs. In these rough areas gang members are heroes in the eyes of children, and the average time spent in school is only three years. Pastor Jaime uses the Pavement Project to share God’s love with 1,200 young people who have grown up around violence and aggression; to show them that God has a better plan for their future. Nora Mendonza works with children-at-risk in a rehabilitation centre. The vast majority are addicted to alcohol which they often use to numb their painful memories, hunger and the cold. Nora herself has suffered the effects of addiction. Her husband was an alcoholic for over 20 years and used to physically and verbally abuse her . He came to faith a few years ago and is in recovery – he and Nora are now dedicated to supporting addicts and are using Pavement Project to counsel the children and their families.

We need to show them that God has a better plan for their future

Miguel is just one of the children Nora has already been able to minister to, through the Pavement Project counselling process.  After being counselled he said: “I feel safe in Jesus’ hands. He will give me strength like a lion to overcome my addiction.” For Viviane, Pastor Jaime, and Nora, Pavement Project is an answer to years of prayer for children-at-risk in Guatemala. As young hearts cry out for hope across the country, we pray that the Bible’s life words will bring healing to children living in the worst situations imaginable.

PRAYER POINTS:

  • Pray for Viviane, Jaime and Nora as they use Pavement Project’s green bag to bring God’s words of healing, restoration and forgiveness to children at risk in Guatemala.
  • Pray for their safety, protection and courage. Pray also that they would be fruitful in their ministry, and see many children experience life change
  • Thank God for work that is happening in Miguel. Pray that it would continue and that he would have the strength to carry on

You can donate toward Pavement Project here or join our monthly support team.

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