What is Jesus doing?
What Would Jesus Do…? We’ve all heard that phrase and it used to be very popular to wear a WWJD bracelet. However, I often tell people that a much better question is not “What would Jesus do?” but rather “What is Jesus doing?”
It’s very easy to see what Jesus is doing at El Hogar, where I recently spent a week with a group of young people from St. Timothy’s, Cincinnati.
El Hogar is an Episcopal school and orphanage in Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras. Its full name is “El Hogar de Amor y Esperanza” which means “The Home of Love and Hope”; and I don’t think there could possibly be a better name than that.
As you may know from following the current crisis on our southern border, Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the world with an incredibly high rate of violent crime. El Hogar is a place where children who have been abandoned or who are living in abject poverty can escape the violence and harsh living conditions. At El Hogar they’re given an education, a safe place to live, three meals a day, a community, opportunities for the future and a whole lot of love.
By American standards, these kids have almost nothing, but you only have to be there for a few minutes to see that they have everything they could possibly need. There is such an amazing energy in that place – there is so much laughter, so much love and so much gratitude for the things they do have.
I could not have been more impressed with the place and El Hogar truly reinvigorated my love for the Church. You see, I spend a lot of my time dealing with privileged, middle-class, suburban problems – most of which are my own. I’m having a rough day when I have to wait through a second cycle at the traffic light, or my iPhone isn’t charging quickly enough, or when the Buckeyes lose… which fortunately doesn’t happen very often! I’ve got a lot of “first-world problems” – this became painfully obvious to me at El Hogar. One morning the kids were asked to name something they were thankful for. One little girl said that she was thankful to have a place to sleep. And it absolutely broke my heart.
But because of El Hogar, because of the Church, those kids have hope for the future. That is what Jesus is doing. Through people like us, God is transforming these kids’ lives. That’s why I love the Church.
I connected with one boy in particular at El Hogar: a 12-year-old named Donis. I would have brought him home with me if I were allowed! He and his brother were abandoned by their alcoholic parents and a priest brought them to live at El Hogar. Donis will finish 6th grade this year and then he’s going to the technical institute that El Hogar runs where he will spend several years learning carpentry. The boys can also opt to learn agriculture, welding or electric, but Donis wants to be a carpenter and wanted to make sure that I knew Jesus was also a carpenter (which I did know!).
This kid, who was abandoned by his parents, is going to leave El Hogar with an education, a skill set and a trade. He’s going to be able to make a middle-class living and end the cycle of poverty in his family. And I think what’s even more important, is that Donis knows that God loves him and he’s got a whole network of people who love him and support him. So why would you ask “What would Jesus do?” when you can simply point to that kid and say “That is what Jesus is doing!”
We are all the hands and feet of Christ in the world, and all of us can contribute in some small way. My spouse and I decided to continue a relationship with Donis by sponsoring him financially to help pay for his education. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it will make an enormous difference in his life. I am able to write letters, send cards and pray for him—Donis knows he’s got one more person in his life who cares about him.
If you’re able, please consider ways that you can contribute to what God is doing in the lives of the children at El Hogar. And if you ever have the opportunity, go and visit—I guarantee that it will change your life. It changed mine. Visit the El Hogar website to learn how you can help. www.elhogar.org.
Alexander Martin is serving in the second year of his residency at St. Timothy’s, Cincinnati. He was ordained to the priesthood the day after he returned from El Hogar!