When Love is Not Enough

We know our hearts are in the right place. We really, really, want to make life better for these kids. So, why can’t it be easy? The first year of Hope, two decades ago, every single boy ran away. We gave them a safe place to live, good – and regular – food, all the things that make life normal. But it wasn’t enough; they all ran away, rejecting the life we had built for them. They needed not more, but something very different. What transformation demanded was that they had structure, boundaries, discipline. Our breakthrough came when a retired …

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A New Mission Field: Children in Prison

Today I welcome Philip Smith, co-founder and CEO of Hope Unlimited for Children. From earlier posts, you may be aware that Hope recently agreed to explore the possibility of joining the state of Espirito Santo in looking for ways to transform their children’s prisons. As with any new endeavor, we are always aware of the possibility of “mission creep,” — and taking our focus away from the street children we serve. In an effort to prevent that from happening, Philip visited one of these prisons to ask the question, “Are these our children?” This is what he found – in …

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Light: Shining in the Darkness

I am pleased to welcome Jeremy Stanley this week. Jeremy is a storyteller at heart. From the Hollywood Hills to a leper colony in Kenya, everyone has a story to tell. Having spent many years in the film & television industry in Los Angeles, Jeremy’s focus and passion is now exposing injustice and sharing stories of hope and redemption around the world. It’s easy to find despair in the darkness. It envelops you. It overwhelms you. You hear stories of children being murdered in the streets.  Of little girls losing their innocence and prostituting themselves at desperately young ages.  t …

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Materialism

Have you ever thought about the “why” of materialism?   Sunday night I left Tennessee for Brazil; left my very comfortable home for a 16-hour, three-leg flight. I was met at the small Vitoria airport by one of our houseparents. We traveled through the relative affluence of the ocean-front residential section of town then began to wind our way up broken streets to Hope Mountain. We passed squalor; we came within feet of the brutal children’s prison at Cariacica; we saw filthy children sitting on street curbs.   Discomfort. Back in the beautiful Springtime of East Tennessee, it is very …

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Was He one of us?

My friend grabbed me immediately after the service. “I finally understand that verse.” A question in my eyes. “The ‘I had no place to lay my head’ verse. Tonight, for the first time, I understand it.” We were at Saturday night worship the night before Palm Sunday at The Net Fellowship, a church formed by former street children who are graduates of Hope Unlimited’s residential program. Joining the graduates, their families, and members of the community who have become part of The Net were about two hundred children who presently live at the two Hope campuses in Campinas, Brazil. And …

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But God wasn’t finished yet…

I wrote last week of God’s miraculous provision in preserving Hope Mountain, but that was only the beginning of what God had in store that day. There was a third point to the Vice-Governor’s proposal to us. But first, a bit of background. Hope Mountain (HM), to no small degree, came into existence 11 years ago because our Board was so moved by the horrific conditions they saw when they visited the children’s prison across the valley from HM. Sixteen children crammed into small cells built of block and iron bars; a hole in the floor for a toilet; a …

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But God had something else in mind…

A few months ago, the Board of Directors of Hope Unlimited for Children reluctantly voted to close our Hope Mountain campus. It was not without pain to make the decision; the need is desperate there, and hearts, efforts, and money had been poured into the transformation of this former prison facility into a place where the lives of boys could be transformed. But, a decade into the project, only marginal local support had joined the U.S. investment, and the cost of running the project was threatening to strangle the Hope organization.   The Board made the decision provisionally: if Hope …

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Maddie

Today I welcome Maddie to the blog. Last summer sixteen-year-old Maddie and her family visited Hope Unlimited’s City of Youth in Brazil. She recently spoke at a chapel service at her school about her experiences in Brazil.  These words are excerpted from her presentation. Imagine a girl who lives in a comfortable suburban house surrounded by a loving family. She attends Stanford games and vacations in Newport Beach with her family. She attends private school. Imagine another girl who lives in a home of cardboard and plywood, without plumbing or electricity. She walks barefoot on a dirty, trash-filled street. Her mom suffers from mental illness …

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A Heart Made New

When Carlos first arrived at the City of Youth two years ago, he was just like so many of the kids who have come to call the City of Youth their home. He had virtually no contact with his mother and became a child of the streets when he fled a physically abusive father. But we soon realized there was something different about Carlos. He was weak, often short of breath, and simply did not have the robust appearance that a young teenage boy should have. A pediatrician in Campinas scheduled Carlos for a battery of cardiac exams. Before he made it to …

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Separating the sheep from the goats (a parable along the way to revolting numbers)

Here’s a bit of Bible trivia for you:  There is only one person in the parables of Jesus who is given a name.  Do you know who it is?  Think about for a minute. Lazarus Do you know the story of Lazarus and the rich man? Lazarus is a poor beggar who lies at the gate of the rich man’s home, hoping to grab a few “crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table.” Interestingly enough, it is not the rich man who has a name, but the poor, crippled beggar. Even more interesting, the name Lazarus means “the one …

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