A letter from Missionary Steve English

February 2011

Dear Friend of Laughing Child,

My name is Steve English and I am a missionary in Guatemala, Central America. My wife and I are founders of an orphanage and school in a Mayan village in the mountains.  At the same time, for more than twenty years, I am privileged to also be a close friend of Shane Clark’s. We have fought the good fight of the faith together over these two decades and have shared in the eternal work God is doing all over the world. We have stayed committed to prayer for one another, to keep each other accountable to Christ’s calling, and to love each other deeply as Christ commanded.

I know that you, too, have been inspired by the ministry to which Shane has committed himself. How wonderful it is to be able to participate in God’s work through this man of the faith. Personally,  I have witnessed him praying for the broken hearted and have watched this dear brother usher into God’s family new members of the body of Christ.

It has been an honor for me to participate as a member of Shane’s prayer advisory board. During my visits to Mexico I have been able to watch the building of Camp Laughing Child. It has been amazing to see all that Shane has been able to accomplish. Through your generosity I have been blessed to watch a camp for sick and underprivileged children being carved out of a beautiful piece of property in Puebla, Mexico. I have talked with citizens of the surrounding community and heard their appreciation and respect for this place that will one day provide a haven for little ones who have been marked as “the least of these.” How wonderful it is to know that  one day this camp will change eternity for these little ones. They will learn that through the love of Father they are in fact the ‘greatest’.

The task of building such as camp would be daunting in any country. After ministering for more than twenty years in Latin America I can assure you that the challenges are multiplied. There would be no way for me communicate the enormity of this task. Perhaps one of the greatest difficulties has been working with the Mexican government. It seems they are always looking for an opportunity to line their own pockets with bribes and under the table deals. To date, Shane has been able to maintain his integrity and that of Laughing Child’s by not succumbing to this temptation even though it might be more expedient and cost efficient.

As I write this I am finishing up a week of negotiations with Mexico’s Federal Environmental and State Protection Agencies who have halted the work at the camp. The previous owners sold the property to Shane without disclosing the fact that the property was federally protected against development. Sadly, this is a very common practice in Latin America. After reading over the titled deed to the property it is obvious that there was no way for Shane to have known.

At any rate, the development and building has well advanced. The good news is that the government has agreed to implement a schedule of lifting the building restrictions as various levels of bureaucratic obligations are met. God is good and faithful! However, we are going to have pay some very expensive fines, absorb the costs of several ‘environmental impact studies’, submit architectural and structural designs, and a plan for reforestation to compensate for the trees and foliage removed by the previous owner.  In order for this to be done legally, ethically, and in a way that holds with our Christian principals, patience will be required. Various levels of injunctions will be lifted as we make incremental payments to the government totaling  around US$11,000.00.

As always, God takes bad situations and turns them for His good. The halting of the building process has allowed Shane the time to meet with pastors and medical professionals to share the vision of the camp. Just today we met with one of six district superintendants of the United Methodist Church in Mexico. We were asked by him to meet with his pastors and laity to show them how they can bring the light of Christ to their own people and communities. The construction may be at a temporary standstill but the ministry of Jesus advances on.

I wish you could have stood with me this week at Camp Laughing Child. When there you can almost hear the healing laughter of God’s hurting children as their suffering turned to joy on this holy ground.

Your Servant,

Steve English

La Senda Orphanage and School President – spenglish@twop.org

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