The Lopez kids with their adoptive parents, Jorge & Shirley.

These three children have had a traumatic experience at such a young age. Their father, Erick, is an alcoholic. Their mother, Madeleine, left because their father was physically and emotionally abusing her. After the divorce, the children went to live with their mother but she was unable to support them. Shortly thereafter, Erick married his second wife and the kids moved back into his house. He continued to drink and squander whatever money he earned on alcohol and gambling. It wasn’t long until Erick’s second wife left him and was taken in by some missionaries to rescue her from the abuse, but the children remained. Erick’s mother moved in to try to help him raise the three kids.

Madylin enjoying National Kids' Day October 1, 2013

Marlin (pronounced Marylin) enjoying National Kids’ Day October 1, 2013

Erick’s rage and depression fueled by his alcoholism contributed to his blaming the children for his problems with both wives. He began taking out his anger on the children by physically abusing them. Erick’s mother also would beat the kids as a means of punishment and discipline but all it did was further instill fear in their hearts. Iglesia Ciudad de Refugio (City of Refuge Church), learned of the hardship of this family. They began collecting money to help support this family by giving the grandmother money occasionally to buy food, but Erick would instead spend the money on alcohol.

One day, Luis, the older of the three, came running to Pastor Jorge yelling that his father was in a rage and beating Eric, his younger brother, and was afraid he was going to kill him. Pastor Jorge and a few others from the church ran to the house to rescue him. The church immediately took provisional custody of these two boys to protect them from their father and a few days later also were able to rescue Marlin who was not at home at the time of the incident.

Luis posing with his piñata for his 14th birthday party.

Luis posing with his piñata for his 14th birthday party.

In April 2013, the church petitioned the Guatemalan courts to file a letter of abandonment against the father and the courts granted provisional custodianship over the children while they investigate the status of the family. The church continues to take in families and children as they are able. While they have been able to provide housing, food, and spiritual direction in the lives of these children and others, the big struggle is providing for their schooling.

Eric enjoying kids camp in 2013

Eric enjoying kids camp in 2013

Since they had missed a lot of school over the years and the church was only able to send them to public school before receiving provision from the Serving At Risk Families ministry, they had fallen behind. Luis has repeated at least 1 grade and Eric has repeated 1st grade 3 times. They have trouble with reading and comprehension as well as a desire to push through difficult subjects. Thankfully they have improved in their studies over the years since the Serving At Risk Families ministry was able to help them attend a better school.

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