A Year in Review
2018 was an exciting year for Rancho Esperanza with new life (both physical and spiritual) and the addition of another family to help on the Ranch!
Birth of Joshua Matthias
Angelica gave birth to baby Joshua on August 17th. Through much prayer and the mercy of our Lord, he survived a very difficult first couple weeks. Thank you to everyone for your prayers and words of encouragement during this time!
Addition of the Williamson Family
Jon joined the ministry team here in June and we are awaiting the arrival of Kelley after the completion of the new house. Once completed, we will be bringing in more children to be loved and cared for on the Ranch.
New House Projects Completed in 2018
Stucco on the walls
Switches and outlets
Windows fabricated and installed
Internal and External walls painted
Internal plumbing to showers and sinks
We are wrapping up the holiday break and the kids are preparing to go back to school. They have had a lot of free time around the ranch but have also been taking advantage of the English classes during the week.
Danny loves to learn about the history of Guatemala and the US, presidents, agriculture, and any other documentary that he can watch. He has his own garden going and will be harvesting some pineapples soon.
Michael will be entering Jr. High at the Nazarene school in Seja. They have a great program and we think this will be the best option for Michael’s education.
Lidia is growing and getting accustomed to life at the Ranch. She loves running errands with the older girls and is starting to help them with their chores during the day.
Chus and Gabriel offer us the biggest challenge as they are young boys and brothers that love to test the limits of our patience. It has been a difficult year and we appreciate your prayers as we minister to these boys that had such a difficult start to life and must work through the things they experienced.
Other Ministry News in 2018
The Wheelchair Ministry continues providing wheelchairs to people in the community who are in need and can’t afford the cost of the chairs. We also repair wheelchairs when they need maintenance, which is quite often in the terrain we have here that they are having to navigate.
Iglesia de Esperanza was re-started after the departure of Pastor Benito in the spring with Sunday morning services and Wednesday evening Bible studies. It is growing slowly with mostly young adults, teens and children.
A worship team is developing with Maria and Ruby selecting songs and leading the church in worship with Jon playing guitar each Sunday morning and the youth ministry on Saturday nights.
Jovenes de Esperanza, our youth ministry, began this summer and we currently have between 12 – 15 youth regularly attending on Saturday evenings.
English Classes started weekly after the short-term team from Community Chapel of Greenville did a 3-day introductory class. We have 3 classes going weekly, one for children and two for teens and adults.
This is harder to explain and nearly impossible to quantify so these must be taken with a grain of salt.
We saw 12 young people come to the Lord through the short-term team from CCG. Of those 12 young people, I have regular contact and discipleship opportunities with 9 of them through the various ministries of the church.
We had a baptism service where we baptized 5 young people. Maria, Angelica and Pedro along with 2 from the youth group made public professions of Jesus as their Lord and Savior through their participation in believer’s baptism.
It has been awesome to watch the growth of the young people here as they start to use the gifts that the Lord has given them to minister to others. This is the heart of the ministry here, to receive the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ and to pass it on to others in order that they might be built up as well, making the whole body stronger.
This summer we had two people working alongside us in support of the ministry.
Keri Owen, a young lady from Jon’s youth ministry at CCH, came for the summer after visiting a couple times with other teams. She spent 3 months helping with the cooking and cleaning at the ranch, training horses, and many hours playing with the children. She also helped Jon host the summer teams. Keri returned later in the year to complete 6 weeks of Spanish language school at Christian Spanish Academy in Antigua, and again in December with the rest of her family.
Cecilia Brennan, a nurse and member of CCH, spent most of her time in Guatemala at Christian Spanish Academy learning Spanish with hopes of returning on a long-term or permanent basis here at the ranch. She is currently back in the US raising support for her return to Guatemala where she will complete her Spanish language training and then spend a year working in a public hospital in order to receive her qualifications to work as a nurse in country.
Short-Term Teams Hosted
Christmas in January ~ Jon & Kelley Williamson, and Matthias Swartzendruber met us in Guatemala City with Christmas gifts from Community Chapel of Greenville. We were also able to visit the local amusement park for a day of fun in the City.
Family and Friends from Greenville ~ This was a small group of 9 people including Kelley, Jaedon and Kaytie Williamson. They came down with their friends the first week of July to minister to the children on the ranch and complete some small projects around the ranch. The Bauxbaum Family came, and they brought money that they had been saving to purchase all new ceiling fans for the church! The summer teams were very thankful for this gift!!!
Community Chapel of Hendersonville ~ This team hosted our 3rd Annual Vacation Bible School in the 3rd week of July. They had a great time ministering to about 75 – 80 children and teens from the community. They helped kick off our first meeting of the youth ministry and blessed us with their gift of worship.
Community Chapel of Greenville ~ They came in on the heels of CCH and put on a 3-day introductory course to learning English. During one of the classes, after hearing the testimony of one of the team members, 12 young people made first time confessions of faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
John and Renee Houser came for to visit for a couple days this summer to minister to the family and share a Bible message.
Will Share Ministries, a ministry of our friends from Springs Fellowship in Texas came to put on a medical clinic that met some of the medical needs of our local community.
Family and Friends ~ Kelley returned to visit with our friends David and Charmaine Jerman, Keri’s brother Kori Owen, and our friend Amy, who had visited the Ranch with the group in June.
Owen Family ~ Keri returned to the ranch in December with her parents, brothers, and grandparents. They came representing their churches, Gap Greek Baptist Church and Cornerstone Church of Bluffton SC, and brought Christmas gifts for everyone here. They also painted the outside of the church and completed the internal plumbing to the showers and sinks.
Calvary Chapel of Sarasota FL ~ Pastor Jim and his daughter Faith came with their friends Lonnie and Ethan the day after Christmas to build drawers for the cubbies in the children’s rooms of the Rhea home. They also spent time playing with the kids and took them on an excursion to visit the ruins at Quirigua.
During the year, we were able to visit and share with several churches who are already involved in the ministry, one that came alongside this year and one that has expressed interest in working with us.
Thank you to the following churches for allowing us to share about the work that the Lord is doing through our ministry.
Calvary Chapel of Sarasota, FL
Community Chapel of Hendersonville, NC
Community Chapel of Greenville, SC
Eden Valley Church of the Brethren, St John, KS
Gap Creek Baptist Church, Marietta, SC
Springs Fellowship, Lubbock, TX
Woodland Shores Baptist Church, St. Joseph, MI
As we look into the New Year and think about what’s in store, here are some of our goals for the ministry…
Finish the house! We currently have $14,000 in our construction fund to continue the work and we hope to have it finished before next summer.
Bring in more children! With the completion of the new house comes new children. We will be able to bring in 8 new children who will be blessed by the ministry here at Rancho Esperanza.
Continue in ministry! Throughout the process of construction and starting up a new house, we will continue to minister to the orphans that come to us at the Ranch. This is the heart of the ministry and the reason we are here. We will continue to focus on their spiritual, emotional and physical growth.
Share the Gospel! It’s our hope that through the various ministries we have at the Ranch, we will be able to share the message of Jesus Christ to the community in which we live. By the grace of God, we will bring more people into the ministries and take advantage of every opportunity to demonstrate by our actions, the love of Jesus!
Words can’t express how much we appreciate the prayers and support of our friends and family. The visits, phone calls, WhatsApp or Facebook messages do wonders to encourage us and keep us going.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 12
With Love in Jesus Christ,
Mike & Karen Rhea