Watch out world… here comes Champers!

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It was the end of 2011 when we met Champers.     Laura was preparing to leave to take a group of 17 students to Copan to study at a Christian boarding school.    Our friend and fellow missionary here, Morgan Hayden, introduced us to Champers.

Champers had finished 9th grade, but had no way to finish high school.    His mother is unable to read or write and is trying to care for younger siblings with a husband who struggles with many vices.    Champers is a charismatic young man – always ready with a smile, conversation, pat on the back, or hug.   He is a charmer with all kinds of street smarts.

Unfortunately, all students for the February 2012 class in Copan had already been selected.   We told Champers he would need to work for a year, get to know us better and we would try to find him a sponsor for 2013.    Honestly, we did not think we would ever see Champers again.

A few weeks later, Champers was working hard… riding a bike selling newspapers around town.  Again, we thought his job would be short-lived.

Boy, did we ever underestimate this young man.

Champers worked the entire year and came by our house at least once per week to get to know our family.  He helped support his mother and saved enough of his own money to pay for his flight to the nearest city to travel to Copan to study.

Enter Joe Clayton and family.

Joe is a friend of Alex’s from college.   He and his family eagerly sponsored a student in 2011 who decided not to return in 2012.    Joe told Alex to pick another student for his family to sponsor.    And Champers was that student.

2013 was a great year for Champers.  He went to Copan, studied very hard, learned responsibility and money management.    His classes for the year finished in November and we were able to bring him back to Puerto Lempira for the break.    Champers came to dinner that first night and told us all about his year.   He was excited to talk about all that he had learned in Copan.      It seems that in chapel at his school, Champers heard some new things about Jesus that he had never heard in churches here.    He knew about salvation, but he had never heard how Jesus changes lives… and he simply had never imagined anything like this.    He asked us ‘how can it be?’

And a door opened for us… to begin to speak a little more deeply to Champers about Jesus, His love and yes, His transformation in a willing heart.

As a former pastor of ours used to say, it is about ‘one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread.’   Sometimes that bread is physical bread…   and other times, our favorite times, are those where we are invited to share the ‘Bread of Life.’

Relationships open the door for long-term friendships … trust can be built and a right to speak into someone’s life can be earned.    This is how long-term transformation happens.    One person at a time.     Yes, our job here is long-term investment in loving people.

We arrived back in Puerto Lempira last week.  Look who was waiting at the airport…

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Champers has been selling newspapers for the last 6 weeks and will have enough money saved by the end of this month for his trip back to Copan for 11th grade.    Go Champers!

A few days ago, we saw Champers on the street.  After some good conversation and some questions about what God is showing him during his visit, he leaned over and whispered… ‘I am going to be somebody special one day.’

To us, Champers, you already are somebody special.

Thank you, Joe Clayton and family… you are working hand-in-hand with God to change a life.   Thank you.

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