From Our Hearts

Happy New Year!! I hope you had a very merry Christmas and a great start to your New Year. Like most of you we had some very high and very low points in 2023 and are looking forward to what 2024 will bring.  He is so faithful, and as He continues to guide, we can continually say it is well! I trust you can too.

As Debbie and I were seeking God about our ministry and the new year, the word “AWAKE” was impressed on our hearts for our word for the year. Jesus “saw” the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So, he began teaching them many things.”   Mark 6:34
He saw – He was awake – He was attentive! The teachings of Jesus are simple, but profoundly important. He instructs us to Stay Awake, notice people, and reach out with compassion.  Debbie and I are asking God to show us what He is prompting us to do, and to be awake and see the “crowds” through His eyes.

Whenever we moved to Florida 1 year ago, we were made aware of the migrant population only 8 miles from our home.  I became burdened for this area and sought God for his guidance as I could not shake this calling. After months of praying, networking, researching, and trying to find an in-road, I met Pastor Carlos Irizarry.  He is the Pastor of Wholesome Community Church in Wimauma. He was as excited to meet me as I was to meet Him. I shared my heart with him, and he said, “I’ve been praying for you.”  We did not know each other, but he had been praying for someone to help him with this precious community. He has a heart for the whole person – physical, emotional, and spiritual and so we began a relationship to reach the children and families in that area.

As he drove Debbie and I through the multiple housing areas, our hearts were deeply touched, and our eyes awakened to the desperate needs right in our backyard. We knew we were being called to do our part for these precious people. We assisted this pastor with their Thanksgiving Outreach. It was incredible as there were so many “helps” provided. There were medical personnel, social workers, abuse counselors, financial services, sheriff’s department, and other resources offered to each family before they were given food for their Thanksgiving tables and personal items. It was heartwarming to be a part of this.

On Christmas Eve, we did a toy give-away and presented the gospel message to a group of children who most were biblically illiterate. We had about 15 children who gave their hearts to Jesus.  It was the 1st time we had to have an interpreter in a children’s outreach, but even so God moved.  It was definitely the highlight of our Christmas!

The children live in small apartments and trailers with sometimes 3 or 4 other families.  Abuse is rampant. Many of them must go to work in the fields with their parents by the age of 12 and sometimes younger due to children having no other option but to work to pay for the basic needs of themselves and their families.
Migrant farmworkers’ children are less likely (1 out of 5000) to graduate from high school, and college is virtually non-existent.

As Mark 6:34 has pierced our heart in a fresh new way, we are asking God to direct our next steps. Through this verse we see that Practical compassion is concern and consideration for the physical needs, and Spiritual compassion is concern for the needs of the person’s soul

Jesus addressed both. With His help, we want to do that as well.  While we are aware we are severely lacking in the natural to help with the practical, our main focus is to introduce them to the one who can give them hope and turn their lives around.  We saw the excitement on the faces of these children who are so hungry for acceptance and love.  As Debbie would say, we are all about that! We desire to be spiritually awake as we continue to reach out to His children. We do not ever want to be too busy or unaware of those around us who are lost and in need.

A dulling of spiritual insight can cause us to not see the needs of others and to overlook how each individual is a child of God made in His image.  They deserve to be seen. We must stay awake as We KNOW every child needs to know who Jesus is.  And so, we keep striving.

Much love,
Aldin and Debbie

***Please follow our Engage Kids Facebook page and/or Instagram for more pictures and to stay in touch with our ministry.  The links are at the bottom of this newsletter.