With your support, Orphan Helpers teachers in Honduras and El Salvador work hard to equip at-risk and incarcerated youth for success. Your giving makes it possible for them to teach and counsel young men and women who are imprisoned. The teachers are grateful for your generosity, going the extra mile each day to make an impact. To comply with the government’s COVID-19 guidelines in El Salvador, teachers have served around-the-clock three-week shifts behind bars since early last year. One of those teachers is Dennis Martinez in El Salvador. He shares the following story:
“Being a part of Orphan Helpers has been a blessing to not only me, but also my family. I have grown as a person, father, husband, teacher, and Christian. The things I have witnessed through the lives of incarcerated young men has been life-changing, to say the least, and I am thankful for every moment.
“The past year I lived a rollercoaster of emotions as we had to disconnect from the youth at the start of the pandemic. I felt helpless. It broke me to think that I could be with my son, but young men were missing a simple touch from their moms. I knew I needed to reenter the center as soon as possible and serve those young men, no matter the cost.
"When the offer came to enter the center for a three-week rotation, it was very difficult to say good-bye to my family. However, I felt it was the Lord’s will to deny myself and enter into a 21-day lockdown to serve others. The first two weeks were the most challenging. I did everything possible to occupy my mind and not think of my family. Being away from my wife and son were a great sacrifice. It made the nights cold and lonely. The Lord was my ever-present help. I continually asked him for strength to get through each passing day. Then I paused and thought about the young men who face this type of loneliness for months, sometimes years!
“During the day, the hours flew by, but the evenings were always the toughest. The boys would go back to their cells. I was alone again without my family. Hearing my family’s voices on the phone truly broke me inside. I didn’t know how I could go on. My son’s cry made me want to run away and not look back. The Lord would remind me to “consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)
“God didn’t forsake us. We felt God showing us the truth, knowing “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The Lord had called me to share the Gospel to young lives. I was confident that my family and I would be blessed from this. During my third week at the center, I began to lead the study “Who is God?” That was the top of my lockdown experience. It was an answered prayer to learn about God while teaching the young men. I feel like I will never be the same.
"As I left the detention center, I saw how genuinely thankful the boys were for all the help, food, and time given to them. Being in their shoes for those 21 days taught me to appreciate the blessings in front of me and not take for granted even the little things like the warm meals I eat and comfortable bed I sleep in. The young men are suffering on a daily basis. Although they carry a devastating past with them, nobody deserves what they’re going through. Without a doubt, they need us – our help, our company, our prayers, our affection, our teachings. I never thought I would say this, but I needed them, too. Without them, I would not be a more loving father and husband, nor would I have a better understanding of love – sacrificial love. Please continue to pray for these young lives who are still facing the ugliness of the Coronavirus pandemic almost a year later. They may feel alone right now but our hope is that they know the Lord is with them always until the end of age.”