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One day 15 years ago, Joe Renaud was sitting in church in Florida as usual. That particular day a guest speaker really grabbed Joe’s attention.

“Greg Garrett (Orphan Helpers founder) was speaking about the mission he was on to help forgotten kids. I was thrown back by this guy. I thought he’s got no business in Central America. By the world’s standards, he has no need to go and do this thing that’s a bit dangerous in many respects. But the vigor that he spoke about these kids drew me to the mission,” Joe says.

Joe immediately started giving to the ministry. For more than 10 years, Joe gave faithfully, even when the recession took a toll on his business.

It was not until he took a trip to Central America, though, that Joe gained a deeper understanding of the real need. That trip transformed Joe into an advocate, wanting to do more.

“I was shocked at what I saw. Imagine you’re going into prisons like you’ve never seen prisons anywhere before. No guards. Little kids who are gang members,” Joe says. “It was an emotional roller coaster. One moment you hear a young person sharing his story of how Christ has touched his life. The next moment you look into the blank stare of a 10-year-old boy who has no feelings and no value for human life.”

Joe thought if just one of them could be reached, it all would be worth it.

Upon his return from the trip, Joe revamped his business office with posters promoting Orphan Helpers. He set up a special revenue stream from the business that would go directly to the mission.

Joe took another step recently in devoting his time, treasure, and talents to reaching incarcerated youth. He joined Orphan Helpers as our newest board member!

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When he was a young boy, Fernando remembers his mother telling him, “The Lord is with you always, through the good and the bad.” He now looks back and realizes the truth in those words.

“I was 10 years old when I first started running on the streets making terrible decisions. By the age of 14, I wanted nothing to do with God or church anymore. I was deep into drugs, alcohol, and robberies. That’s why I ended up in the [detention center] where I spent the next four years,” Fernando recalls.

At first, incarceration did not change his outlook on life. He still had no interest in God. Through your support of Orphan Helpers teachers in the detention center, his attitude eventually changed.

“The brothers from Orphan Helpers showed me love and invited me to be part of the Success Academy. With their leadership and guidance, I came back to the Lord and was baptized,” Fernando says.

Not content to keep his faith to himself, Fernando began sharing the Word of God to others. He even shared the Good News to the entire detention center population (about 250 young men) as a DJ for a Christian radio program on the detention center’s radio station.

At the same time, he participated in the Orphan Helpers Success Academy. He grew in his knowledge of God’s Word and gained valuable life skills.

Fernando graduated from the Success Academy in September 2017. A few months later, in March 2018, he was released from the detention center for good behavior.

With the assistance of his Orphan Helpers teachers, Fernando has started a successful transition back into the community. He is going to school. He teaches children in Sunday school at church. He is working part time for a group that builds homes for the poor. He goes back to the detention center and volunteers with Orphan Helpers.

“Thank God for Orphan Helpers,” Fernando says. “It’s true that the Lord has been with me in the good and the bad, as my mother told me. I can say that it is so!”

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The post Prodigal Son Returns Home and Serves Others appeared first on Orphan Helpers.

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More than 40 families are now receiving counseling services from Orphan Helpers. The family counseling is part of a USAID-funded project to help families of youth who have been arrested.

“Young people and their families need someone to work with them to strengthen relationships with the different members of the family,” said David Suazo, the Orphan Helpers Project Director for the Proponte Más project.

The goal of the project is to rebuild family relationships and address issues that may have led to youth committing offenses so they don’t reoffend. This project dovetails with Orphan Helpers’ ongoing work with incarcerated youth by teaching values, leadership, and life skills in the Success Academies.

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