Going Beyond the Rescue

When I began traveling to Guatemala, one of the first things I noticed was the alarmingly high rate of birth defects. Malnutrition, sickness, and poor prenatal care take a permanent toll on both the mothers and children in this impoverished nation.

Disorders like cleft palates, deformities, and other handicaps are tragic for any parent . . . but I’ve learned that in Guatemala, they can mean a death sentence.

In fact, Guatemala has one of the highest national percentages of spinal and brain birth defects in the world. Like most developing countries, Guatemala has very few specialized healthcare facilities, let alone pediatric care for children with disabilities. The majority of these families are too poor and isolated to seek the help they need. As a result, many children are left untreated and some will die. Thousands of these children are in immediate need of critical care.

Our partner Carlos Vargas is close to celebrating the completion of a new special-needs home that World Help was able to provide near the Baby Rescue Center. I’ll be traveling to Guatemala this month to dedicate this new branch of Operation Baby Rescue, and I couldn’t be more excited. For hundreds of families in the surrounding regions, this new home means that their children will finally receive the care they need to live healthy, productive lives.

Please watch the third portion of a three-part interview as Carlos explains what this new home means for the families caring for these special-needs children: exclusive treatments, therapies, medicines, and each child will receive adequate nurturing on an individual level. The home will also serve as a rehabilitation center where children can come on an as-needed basis.

As the home nears its final stages of construction, I ask you to join me in praying that it will restore hope to countless families in Guatemala. You can also support the home by giving a one-time donation or pledging any amount toward the start-up and sustainability of the program. No matter how you pray or give, your action invests in those who need it the most.


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Rescue a Life: Create Sustainable Hope

Baby Rescue does more than just save lives—it’s reversing the cycle of despair in Guatemala through the hope of sustainability.

A child rescue is a family affair. We believe true health takes teamwork, unity, and the bond of community. Operation Baby Rescue not only saves the lives of children, but it invests in their parents as well. The initiative is intentional about making sure families have the workable knowledge to provide their children with lasting health.

I’ve spoken with mothers who have no idea that the dirty water their children drink keeps them from absorbing essential nutrients. It’s not surprising that the malnutrition rate is so high in this country. It’s not that these families don’t care . . . they just don’t know. But through Operation Baby Rescue, we can help change that!

In addition to families, every child rescue seeks to involve an entire village, giving it essential provisions and tools for sustainability that will prevent further heartache. When a community understands the achievable cycle of health, true well-being will become the norm. A communal awareness of development is so absolutely crucial if we want to bring permanent change to impoverished Guatemalan villages.

Watch the second of a three-part interview with our partner Carlos Vargas as he explains how rescuing children in Guatemala is beyond simply removing them from hazardous environments. It’s about creating a cycle of sustainability that sets the stage for lasting hope.

I hope you understand that when you support Operation Baby Rescue, you help establish futures of health, promise . . . and hope for all.

Will you join the rescue?

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I see you, sweet boy

I love people who are positive. I am drawn to people who are happy. I enjoy people who don’t complain.

I wish I could say that I am always one of those people, but I can’t. However, I want to be.

And I think that is what I love most about Bob Goff. I heard Bob speak at a recent conference and loved his simple yet powerful message: Love God, Love People – Do Stuff!

That’s it. That is his whole message. And when you think about it, that is really all you need to know.

If you’ve ever read anything by Bob or heard him speak in person, you’ll know that he’s an extremely positive person.

Don’t get me wrong: He doesn’t try to call a tragedy a positive thing. He tells the truth about it. The heartache, the pain, the confusion. But he doesn’t stop there.

Bob has mastered the art of finding redemptive perspectives, so that he tells even the most tragic story in a way where you can almost see hope rising to the surface.

I want to be like Bob.

Because it seems like every day I am confronted with a tragic story. Stories I want to share, but ones where I struggle to find the redemption. Stories that, if I am not careful, leave me in a state of despair.

This is one of those stories.

I met Jenri (Henry) a few years ago in Guatemala. He sat in a swing in our baby rescue center . . . barely moving. He was skin and bones. He had been rescued, but had a long battle ahead of him. His prognosis was uncertain.

At first glance he appeared to be an infant . . . maybe 6 months old. But to my surprise, he was two years old and weighed only 10 pounds.

His story was nothing new, at least not in this part of the world. A life of extreme poverty and malnutrition had taken its toll.

For two years Jenri fought for his life surrounded by people who loved him—the caring workers in the center and the countless people who visited him and held his frail little body in his arms.

People like Lauren.

I first met Lauren on a World Help blogging trip to Guatemala. We asked her to come and help us share these rescue stories. The day Lauren met Jenri is a day that changed her life. She writes about this in one of her blogs, saying, “I saw him and touched his skeleton body and talked to him and told him, ‘I see you, sweet boy’.”

This was the beginning of Lauren’s beautiful journey . . . a journey that has made her an advocate for these children, a journey that led her to the process of adoption, and a journey that continues to lead her to be a voice for the voiceless.

But not every story has a happy ending. Just days ago, and a month
before his 4th birthday, Jenri lost his battle and the world lost a precious soul.

And as I share this story with you, this is where I have to make a conscious choice. I must decide whether to sit down and cry . . . to ask the never ending question “Why” . . . to shake my fist at God . . . to throw my hands up in despair and say, “The fight is just not worth it” . . .

Or to add this . . .

This is not where the story ends. You need to know that Jenri was loved. Jenri was treasured. Jenri mattered. And Jenri’s life will be the inspiration to help so many more children.

Jenri’s short life was filled with pain and struggle. But, when he came to the end, he had what really mattered.

His life changed the world . . . because Jenri’s life changed the lives of Lauren and countless others who held his frail little body, looked into his big brown eyes, and whispered in his ear, “I see you, sweet boy.”

Today we honor Jenri . . .

We still see you sweet boy, and we will continue see you in the eyes of every child who is saved . . . because you once lived.

Photo by Hope of Life International


Don't talk about Jesus dying on the cross _ Noel Yeatts

Don’t talk about Jesus dying on the cross …

Noel Yeatts - Don't talk about Jesus dying on the cross - blog

A little known fact about me is that for years I played the harp. I played at weddings, church services, receptions, parties, and special events. Besides having to lug that heavy thing around, load it in and out of my car, and deal with a few crazy brides … I loved it.

I received a request one time to play at a church. I was not familiar with this particular church or the denomination, but I agreed to play. Everything was going fine until the music minister informed me that I could not play any songs that talked about Jesus dying on the cross, or the blood of Jesus.

I literally thought … wait a minute … did he actually just say that?  Don’t talk about Jesus dying on the cross?? Are you serious?

But, oh yes, he was serious. And so, that is exactly what I did. The music I played was more “easy listening” than hymns and everything made a little more sense when the service closed with the congregation standing in a circle, holding hands and singing “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me …”

I was thinking about this today as Easter is only days away, and wondering how do you celebrate Easter without the cross? How do you worship without acknowledging the blood that was shed for our sins?  And for that matter, how do you even have a church without these essentials? There is no church without the blood, death and resurrection, right?

Now, I am all for peace on earth and for letting it begin with me. But what is more important is why I believe that. So much of what I do is about giving people physical help … meeting their immediate and desperate physical needs. But, what I love most about what I do is the holistic approach that we take … meeting physical and spiritual needs. It is never one without the other.

Because there is no help without hope. Because without the hope that only comes from the cross, meeting these physical needs, is just a short-term fix.


And the same is true in our lives. We all have needs and there is only one way to truly meet those needs … Jesus. No matter how hard we try, no matter how hard we work, no matter how good we are … the cross is still the only thing that saves us.

So, let there be peace on earth … let it begin with me. But, let it begin with me because of what He has done for me. I have been rescued by the cross so that I may now rescue.

Rescue Story: Marta

On my last visit to Guatemala, I met a precious baby girl who was literally snatched from death’s grip. If it hadn’t been for Operation Baby Rescue, Marta would only be a memory. Please watch her story, and see the transformational difference we can make in the life of a malnourished child.

Operation Baby Rescue was launched to give these very families and their children the opportunities for restored health, peace, and hope. With your help, we’ve rescued more than 4,000 children in the past several years—and in 2012 we want to rescue 1,000 more.

Can you imagine watching your child suffer? Completely unable to help or provide comfort? Every year, thousands of impoverished Guatemalan families must watch helplessly as their children fade from life to death—malnutrition gives them no choice.

In some of the rural villages of Guatemala I’ve visited, four out of five children are affected by severe malnutrition. The pain and anxiety they experience is beyond my comprehension. But along with World Help, I’m determined to provide these innocent children with relief and protection from a disease that can be easily treated.

Life is so precious . . . so valuable. And every child, just like Marta, deserves a healthy future. Will you join Operation Baby Rescue and bring healing to some of the world’s most desperate children?

Visit worldhelp.net/rescue to invest in the health and well-being of a child today.

Join the rescue!

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The other side of rescue

“If you had not found me, I would not be alive today.” The young girl standing before us passionately shared from her heart. A heart full of thanks. A life changed.

Katie and the young adults gathered around her were the first children World Help met in Gulu, Uganda years ago. Their world had been totally turned upside down because of the terror of Joseph Kony and the LRA. Some had been forced to leave their homes and live in IDP camps. Some had been abandoned. And, some had been kidnapped to become child soldiers … forced to do the unimaginable. These were the children the world had forgotten.

Sponsored Children from Uganda

But, you would have never known that today. Today they were joyful, happy, thankful, and praising God. They are now teachers, fashion designers, welders, and beauticians.

As Katie finished sharing her story with us, she fell to her knees, overcome with emotion and gratitude.

The moment was moving and humbling. As I sat in my chair, trying to control my own emotions, I couldn’t help but think … this is what the other side of rescue looks like:

renewal … redemption … restoration.

But that is not where rescue begins.

I thought about the day before, standing in the hospital where malnourished and sick babies are abandoned. I thought about the little 7-year-old boy who looks like he is 3. He is alone, but finally well enough to make a move to our Baby rescue Center at Destiny Villages of Hope. Today he will begin his rescue journey. Today his life will begin to change.

Noel Yeatts and litte Ugandan boy

The change will not come overnight. Sometimes a rescue is years in the making. It takes commitment and dedication.

Rescue begins in a dirty, desperate place.

But on the other side you find something beautiful … grace … justice … love. On the other side of rescue, you find hope.

We found that today.

We are halfway towards our goal of providing a new baby dorm that will house ten more children!
Learn more and Join the Rescue by clicking the link below.



India’s Greatest Injustice

 “We’re not after charity . . . we’re after justice!” — Bono

As the sun started to fade and night was setting in, a young boy ran out from the children’s home where he was living to a nearby field. As he was running, he quickly glanced over his shoulder making sure no one was watching. He had lived there for years since his parents could no longer care for him. Perhaps they had died, or maybe they suffered from leprosy . . . a disease that affects hundreds of thousands each year in India. Or perhaps they were simply too poor to care for his needs and abandoned him at the steps of the home. Whatever the reason, he was there.

Although surrounded by hundreds of children just like him, he might as well have been alone. No true family, no place to call home, no possessions to his name. He had nothing. Everything that he once had in his young life had been taken away. And so he assumed everything else he would ever receive would eventually be taken away as well.

And knowing that helps us understand what he did next. Earlier that day, he had been given a valuable gift . . . a brand new pair of shoes. They were most likely the first ones he had ever owned. To him, this was a priceless possession—something that was his and only his.

He ran out to the field, and hoping no one would see, he dug a hole and buried his shoes. There they would be safe and no one could ever take them away. Finally, he had something of his very own.

Little did he know that as those shoes lay buried in a mound of dirt, his life was slowly beginning to change. Those shoes represented more than he could ever imagine. Perhaps for the first time in his life he had something much more important than shoes . . . he was beginning to see the first glimpse of hope.

It is hard to believe that World Help began one of our Child Sponsorship Programs near that same field in India for children just like this little boy. Children who had nothing, but with so much potential. I was there the day it began . . . taking photos, writing down names, documenting tragic stories, and literally seeing lives change right before my eyes.

Noel Yeatts

Seventeen years later, our program has reached around the globe providing 48,694 sponsorships for children in need.

What I love about our work in India is the same thing I appreciate about our work around the world. World Help has a holistic approach that meets not only physical needs but spiritual needs as well. If you have been reading the summer blog series, you have seen the work we are doing in India . . . child sponsorship, clean-water initiatives, church planting, rescue from slavery, and so much more. We are after sustainable, life-transforming change that will last for generations to come. You see, we are not after handouts and charity . . . we’re after justice.

I write about the issue of justice in my new book Awake.  And when I think and talk about this subject, I always remember one phrase . . . “Let’s roll.”

In the book of Amos, we are told that justice should “roll like a river.”  It should roll like a mighty river that conquers everything in its path.

In fact, the prophet Amos goes on to tell us to forget about our “religious meetings,” conferences, and conventions. Forget about our “religious projects,” our “image making,” and “noisy ego-music.” God is simply not interested in these things if we forget what He really wants from us.  And what does He want?

I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
— Amos 5:24 MSG

We all remember the now famous words of Todd Beamer on that fateful United flight in September 2001. His last words heard by the 911 operator before he courageously attempted to fight off the terrorists were just that, “Let’s Roll.” He was willing to fight no matter what the cost . . . even if it meant he would lose his life.  And although he did lose his life; because he fought, countless others were saved.

His words became a rallying cry for us as Americans in the war on terror. And those words, “Let’s Roll,” will forever remind us to to stand up for what we believe, for what is good, and for all that we hold dear.

Justice should roll.

As we fight for justice in India, we are fighting issues of extreme poverty, hunger, disease, lack of clean water, abandonment, slavery, sexual exploitation, and spiritual darkness.

But we also fight against what I believe is the greatest injustice of all—hopelessness. When you are hopeless, there is no way out. Without hope, you have no future. Without hope, there is no chance of love, forgiveness, or restoration—there is nothing.

When we seek justice, we should be seeking to restore hope—hope to a hurting world.

In a few months, I will return to India. And I will do the same thing I did on my very first visit. I will document the stories that are waiting to be told—stories of injustice and restored hope.

It’s time to forget about charity. It’s time for hope to be restored in lives in India and around the world.

Let’s Roll!

Africa’s Children: They Need Protection

Three-year old Dindi didn’t understand why he was always hungry. He was just a small boy who didn’t know much about the world.

The watery bowl of porridge he ate once a day never quite made the gnawing pain in his stomach stop. But he knew nothing different. All of his short life had been spent living in a thatched hut with a dirt floor and an animal skin covering the door. He shared the small home with his brother, sister, and mother. He had no memories of his father. “The sickness” had taken him before Dindi was born.

The toddler had never been farther than a few steps from his mother. He was used to following her everywhere she went or riding in the pouch on her back. She walked for miles in the hot sun to bring back fresh water. She struggled to find peasant work to support her children. She gathered wood and built a fire in the wee hours of the morning. But now she couldn’t even get off her bed mat.

He kept his eyes focused on his mother’s face. And though he tried to be brave and not whimper, from time to time a lone tear would make its way down Dindi’s cheek before he hurriedly brushed it away.

Soon the exhausted little boy’s eyes started to droop. He snuggled closer to his mother’s side. He slowly drifted asleep with his tiny hand resting on her thin arm. Those last glimpses of her through heavy eyelids would be the last time Dindi would see his mother alive.

— Excerpt from Children of Hope by Noel Brewer Yeatts and Vernon Brewer

When Dindi awoke, he was utterly alone . . .

Dindi’s story is one of millions in a land overwhelmed by HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty. This is the Africa I was first introduced to and one that completely shook me to the core.

At first I saw the same Africa we all have seen. One whose problems seem endless and never appear to improve. Story after story proved my assumptions to be true . . . until I met a group of children whose voices reminded me of the difference hope can make.

As we arrived, children ran to greet us—children  whose families have been torn apart by poverty, AIDS and a 20-year civil war. They were smiling, laughing, and offering handshakes and hugs. Each boy and girl is special and unique. They are children who, without our support, would not have the opportunity to attend school—a  place where they also receive at least one nutritious meal a day. This is a privilege for them and not something they take for granted.

I watched them play a game in their red and green school uniforms that looked somewhat familiar, like “Duck, Duck, Goose” with an African twist. Then the children formed a large circle and began to chant a poem together. I had to listen carefully to understand what they were saying, but once I did, my heart stopped. This is what they called out over and over again:

Who is a child?

A child is a person below eighteen.

What do they need?

Love, care, comfort.

They are young and innocent.

Give them protection.

They need protection.

Children of Hope

When I see this picture, I can still hear them . . . Give them protection. They need protection.

You see, children of extreme poverty need protection from so much.

Poverty means loss of freedom, loss of dignity, and loss of control over the fundamental course of your life. Poverty has been compared to “living like a dog, because it makes you so hungry you scavenge, so thirsty you foam at the mouth, so needy you will do anything to make a buck . . . even sell your body in prostitution.”1

It is out of this dirty, messy, life—a life that many of us can barely understand—that children are orphaned, discarded and abandoned.

Katwe is one of the most notorious slums in all of Uganda. This area has been devastated by the effects of war, conflict, disease and poverty. The results are innocent children who are abandoned when they are most vulnerable. Whether they are left orphaned after their parents die, or deserted by parents who can no longer bear the burden of raising a child . . . these children are desperate and alone.

But just on the outskirts of Katwe, a flicker of hope can be seen. Our new Operation Baby Rescue center is truly changing the lives of many of these children. Our rescue team in Uganda receives these unwanted babies—naked , sick, and malnourished. They find them in dark alleys, on trash heaps . . . just lying on the side of the road . . . and some are placed on their doorstep.

But after receiving the loving care of our house mothers, including medical care and nutritious food, most of these children make a full recovery.

Ugandan rescue

And this is just the beginning. You see, the future of any nation lies with its children.

Our commitment is to impact the next generation and help them to become the future leaders of their countries. But we have to save their lives first. That is why the rescue program is such an integral part of the holistic approach that World Help is taking in our African programs. We are committed to providing physical help and spiritual hope—help for today and hope for tomorrow. It is this kind of help that leads to transformed lives.

When we think of Africa, we cannot be overwhelmed by the massive needs of this continent. We must be inspired by the one child whose life we can change.

An African proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is today.”

Today, more than ever, we have an incredible opportunity to change the face of an entire continent . . . from despair to hope.

One day soon, when we think of Africa, we will no longer think of those images of starving children covered in flies. Instead, we will think of an empowered people who are pulling themselves out of poverty to change their future. We will think of hope.

It’s the new story of Africa and I want to be a part of it. Will you join me?


1 Black Death: AIDS in Africa, Susan Hunter

Make a splash

Last week I was riding on the back of a scooter through the dirty, windy streets of a village in Haiti.  There were so many sights, sounds and smells. But what I remember most was a line … a line of people waiting for water.

kids lined up

Children wait in this line spending most of their day walking to get water, waiting to get the water and then bringing the water home to their family. And in the end, this water that they spend so much time to get is still dirty, and will continue to make their families sick.

kids with water jugs

In Haiti, 70% of the population lacks access to safe drinking water … that means seven out of ten people don’t know what it’s like to drink clean water. And that is why one in seven children in Haiti will die before their fifth birthday.

Last week I was in Haiti … this week I found myself at our local recycling center disposing of all the empty water bottles that my family had recently consumed. It was such a sharp contrast of life there and life here – and such a reminder that I have no idea what it is like to be without water.

But, things are changing. With the help of passionate supporters across the country, we just completed a large water project in Haiti that holds 186,000 gallons of water – simply unheard of in this part of the world. It will meet the needs of hundreds if not thousands of people in the surrounding community. It’s transforming the way of life there and it is saving lives. (Watch my short video here)

This World Water Day, we each have the opportunity to make a splash – to take the plunge – and to literally be the drop that makes the difference! I am pledging with causelife to provide clean water and improved sanitation in places like Haiti and around the world … and you can too. The truth is, providing clean water has never been easier.

Together, we can continue to tell the stories of lives changed through the power of clean water. Water really does equal life!


It’s a Beautiful Day to Save Lives

I was speaking at a conference recently and moments before I went on stage, my friend leaned over to me and said, “It’s a beautiful day to save lives.”

I have to say it was one of the most appropriate and inspiring things anyone has ever said to me before I get up to speak. People always try to say encouraging things or pray with me and all of that is very needed and important.

But, when you do the work that I do, you want to challenge people and motivate them to get involved. And sometimes, you need to be motivated and challenged yourself –  and you need to be reminded what your work is really all about and why you do what you do.  In that moment, I needed to be reminded that it is all about saving lives.

If you are a Grey’s Anatomy fan, you will recognize this phrase as something Dr. Derek Shepherd says every time he goes into surgery. But, I think I am going to borrow this from “Dr. McDreamy” … because the truth is, every day is a beautiful day to save lives.

I am reminded that each and every day our partners around the world are working tirelessly. Their work never stops. They don’t go home and take a break. The needs can be overwhelming and there is never a shortage of lives to be saved. Here are a few stories of rescues that are happening right now … children who are struggling to survive … and hope that is slowly being restored:

2-month-old baby boy: At the time he was rescued he weighed only 4 pounds. His mother is just 14 years old and she had her first baby when she was only 13 years old – she lost him to malnutrition. As our partners were traveling back to the rescue center, they had to stop and pray that this little boy would make it. His condition was that serious. His young mother, kept saying, “please don’t let my baby die I already lost one and I don’t know what I will do if he dies”.

the baby

Luis: Luis is 5 years old and has suffered from malnutrition for the past 3 years. The effects on his tiny body have been devastating. He no longer has muscles in his legs and cannot walk. Through extensive therapy, we are hopeful that he will learn to walk again, but it will be a long and painful process.


Henry: I met this little guy on my last visit to Guatemala. He is 2 years old and has been at the rescue center for many months. No one believed that he would live … but he is slowly proving them wrong. He has only gained 1 pound since he arrived and the doctors have done all they can for him. But, Henry continues to fight and we continue to pray.


These are just three of the hundreds of stories that I could share with you. These are real children fighting for their lives right now.  The truth is, sometimes we begin to think that there is little we can do to help. We live thousands of miles away. We can’t hold these children, we can’t feed them and bathe them. We can’t hug them, comfort them and rock them to sleep.

But, we can do something. We can be their voice. We can be their advocates. We can fight for them in ways that they cannot. We can join the rescue. And we can remember … It’s a beautiful day to save lives!