Amor’s founder and CEO, Scott Congdon, will be writing the eNews for the next six months as Gayla works on her book! Here is Scott’s first eNews.
Amor didn’t start out building homes for the poor. Our first work began serving at an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. However most of the children there were not orphans. Many of the children had a parent or parents who lived in or around the Tijuana dump. Gayla and I would often visit the families whose children were living at the orphanage because they had no home, or means to take care of them. The children at the orphanage repeatedly reminded us that they truly would rather be living with their family than living at the orphanage – even though they had enough food and a roof over their head at the orphanage. They wanted to be with their mom, their dad, and their brothers and sisters.
This is why Amor is, today and always, committed to helping keep families together. It’s why our future is firmly dedicated to providing sustainable housing for the poor, the homeless, and those living in inadequate shelter. Having a stable, safe, comfortable place to live is important to a person’s well-being. The effects of homelessness can be devastating: tearing families apart, serious illnesses, and depression. Homeless families often have difficulty finding employment and can become chronically unemployed. They can experience poor self-esteem and self-confidence. They often end up lonely and socially isolated.Twenty five years ago Amor began working in a community deeply entrenched in poverty known as Cera Azul. A young boy living there had negative ideas and views about the gospel, the church, and anything related to that. “I know it was ignorance on my part. I didn’t believe in the gospel or the church or anybody,” he said. At that time the families living in Cera Azul mostly lived in dirt floor shacks made from cardboard, old wood, and rusty materials.
While many missionaries from foreign countries began visiting nearby communities, this little boy remembers seeing houses being built by Amor. He recalled someone from Amor talking to his father and asking him, “Don’t you want a house for you and your family?” For this little boy the thought of a house was amazing! It was hard to believe. Yet sure enough his father and their family received a home from Amor. “It was the first home that Amor built in that community,” he later said. Seeing the joy on his family’s face was kind of like a light, “I had a bad experience and this helped clear things up regarding Christianity.”Shortly thereafter he attended a church service in his community and accepted Christ as his savior. He began working with the youth of the church and three years later he became a pastor of a church. This little boy whose heart was softened and healed after receiving a new home from Amor went on to become a pastor and is one of Amor’s longest serving members of our Mexico Ministry Planning Board. This little boy, who today is known affectionately as “Pastor Mere,” says that the way that Amor is impacting their communities is literally opening doors for them as pastors. It is impacting their lives and bringing many people to Christ. Pastor Mere recently said, “The Mexican pastors working in the communities, I want to say very humbly, by having the tool of giving a home to families in need in their communities has given us as pastors respect and make us honorable in the community with the families; even with the local authorities. We can say we have the grace and the love of the community because of Amor and what Amor has done. The work that you have done will be rewarded in heaven.”Keeping families together, sharing God’s love, and building hope is what Amor is all about. “Keeping families together” means fewer children have to grow up in orphanages or are forced to live on the streets. “Sharing God’s love” means that the transforming power of God’s love and grace is enveloping home after home, family after family, and child after child. “Building hope” means a better today as well as a better future by pulling families out of homelessness, out of abject poverty, and into a community with greater security and opportunities.
It goes beyond loving your neighbor as yourself. It captures the ethos of lifting families up above their dire circumstances to a greater reality of a better life here on this earth and even beyond. It means more children will be parented by their mothers and their fathers. It means more children will go to school and get an education. It means more people will get jobs and provide better nutrition and better medical care for their families. It means more families, more parents, more children will be able to serve alongside other families in their very own communities through their very own local churches. Transformed lives, transformed communities, transformed futures.
Sometimes the need is so urgent that one of our pastors will request that we expedite the construction of a home for a family. Often we will have a waiting list of 50 or even 100 families requesting a home.
In a recent case a Mexican family’s condition was so desperate that the father was getting ready to leave his family and go to the United States to find work. He was going to put his children in an orphanage near the border and send his wife back to a small village to live in southern Mexico to live with family. Could anything be worse than ripping a family apart like this? Our pastors decided the need was so great that this family should move to the front of the list. Their home was built, the children moved into their new home, their mother and father moved in with them, and their father found work in a nearby community. Years later the family started attending a church and now they are leaders in their church.
Studies repeatedly show that helping families move from homelessness to home ownership drastically improves their conditions. According to Habitat for Humanity, homeowners in the United States are 12 times wealthier, 10% more likely to attend church, their children are 25% more likely to graduate from high school, and their children are 59% more likely to own their own home after 10 years of leaving their parent’s household. A home is a tool to a better today and a better future. It’s why Amor has spent the last 32 years building more than 17,000 homes. It’s also why Amor needs your continued prayers and support as we continue to change lives and invite you to “Come. Build. Hope.”
Founder and CEO
P.S. I am so excited to be writing the eNews for the next 6 months and that I have the chance to tell you all about Amor!