Ashley Hentrich is a Donor Partner Liaison with VisionTrust International.  Her primary role is to support churches in engaging their congregation to serve the staff, children and families of VisionTrust through child sponsorship and short-term mission teams.  Ashley loves seeing the children at the Los Verdes Learning Center in Guatemala realize that they are worth more because of the love, prayers and encouragement from the VisionTrust staff and their friends at Connection Pointe Christian Church!

Running the Race…

A few years ago, my husband casually commented, “If someone offered me a million dollars to run a marathon right now, I would totally do it!”  After a good laugh, I told my optimistic spouse that no one runs a marathon on a whim, even if a million dollars is on the table.  To complete a race of such magnitude, one needs to train – a task that requires a plan and perseverance!

In Hebrews 12:1-2 our spiritual journey is likened to a great race: “Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”   The VisionTrust Guatemala staff who serve at the Los Verdes Learning Center exemplify such perseverance by their faithfulness to the Lord and dependence on Him.  As a “cloud of great witnesses,” they model the love, humility and grace of Jesus, inspiring the children and youth they serve to follow their example.  However, good modeling alone is not enough to develop dedicated disciples – a plan for spiritual development must also be in place.

To equip the children and youth to “run with perseverance,” the VisionTrust Guatemala team incorporates a variety of spiritual development practices at the Los Verdes Learning Center to engage the children in growing their faith in Christ.  Through regular prayer, praise and worship, Bible study and acts of service the children are able to encounter God and mature in their relationship with Him.  This is all possible through the support of the local staff and their peers, as well as through the support of child sponsors and team members from Connection Pointe.

In March, I witnessed how children responded to Scripture at the Los Verdes Learning Center.  As they heard the story of how Saul met Jesus along the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19), the Holy Spirit worked in incredible ways. When asked what he learned, five-year-old Jesaiais shouted, “God is invincible!”  He also stated, “My mom loves me, even when I do bad things.”  By hearing about the grace Jesus extended Saul, Jesaiais identified a personal example of grace in his own life.

Another child, Cati, heard the story of Saul and cried out, “We need to pray!”  For this young girl, the miraculous moment when Saul regained his sight taught her the importance of prayer.

Seeing Jesaiais and Cati respond to God’s love in action is a perfect reminder that we are all running this race together.  At VisionTrust, we believe that every child can change the world and the children of Los Verdes are a living testimony of the incredible things that happen when children see and believe that they are worth more because of Jesus’ great love for them!  We are excited to see where they will go – and who will follow in their footsteps.

Ashley Hentrich