The invitation to take part in the adventure came in a social media post the previous fall. My dear friend Pastor Jilline Bond, wife of Revival Tabernacle Senior Pastor James Bond, wrote in response to something I had posted on Facebook “why don’t you come to Honduras with us this summer?”
I had always wanted to go on a mission trip, but never had the opportunity to do so. After months of contemplation, I decided to join with a church I wasn’t even attending at the time to travel to a city I never heard of before — Choluteca, Honduras.
While the trip was filled with so many amazing experiences, the most meaningful for me came on our mission team’s first full day in the country. Our group stopped at the Oasis de Amor orphanage.
As I was kneeling on the ground taking photos of everyone in our group interacting with the children, a young boy walked up and sat down on my knee. That little boy didn’t leave my side the remainder of our visit to the orphanage.
When it came time to leave, the boy followed me to our bus, as if he wanted to go with me. When I looked back at pictures of myself at Oasis that day I realized I had never seen myself look that happy before.
For the next year, I could not get that little boy out of my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about how happy and full of love he and all the children at Oasis were, but how little they have in their lives.
I returned to Honduras with the church in June 2012, and was completely overwhelmed with love for the children.
At the same time, God kept sending so many signs to me that he was calling Father’s Hope into existence. One day, I was hit with so many signs at once. I verbally said out loud “Ok God, I’ve got it.”
After consulting with my Pastor James Bond, in August 2012 I decided to move forward with Father’s Hope.
It was to start as something simple, collecting donations of small stuffed animals to send to Oasis de Amor in time for Christmas.
Things quickly blossomed into something so much more as I was overwhelmed with stuffed animal donations, and started making connections with orphanages and missionaries all over the world.
Chills covered my entire body as I read an email from the first location that Father’s Hope had shipped stuffed animals to. It was an orphanage in Haiti and representatives from the orphanage wrote “many of the children have never received a toy of any kind in their lives.”
By December 2012, I was able to make a return visit to Oasis de Amor, to spend an entire week with the children there. Since 2011, I have now made 13 visits to Honduras and in the process met and married my beautiful wife, Irma.
My international travels through Father’s Hope also took me to the Dominican Republic in July 2013, where I was able to visit several orphanages.
In August 2014, Father’s Hope became an official 501c3 nonprofit organization.
It is because of so many people supporting our efforts in so many different ways that our mission has now been able to touch the lives of nearly 30,000 orphans or children in need of feeling loved in Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, India, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Philippines, Russia, Swaziland, Uganda, Ukraine and the United States.
While we continue to accept donations of small, and in new condition, stuffed animals to be shipped or personally delivered to orphanages and missionaries across the globe, our mission has expanded to focus on other areas as well.
Father’s Hope has been able to provide financial support to Oasis de Amor, and has assisted with projects including a building expansion and purchasing bicycles for the children. Our largest single show of support to the orphanage came in September, when we were able to purchase a new outdoor play set for the children to enjoy.
By December, the play set had been used so hard that the sliding boards were in need of repair. Our friends the Bonds recently led a mission trip to Honduras, and as part of the trip they were able to repair the sliding boards, with funding provided by Father’s Hope.
We have been able to support children in other ways as well. This past Christmas, we were able to provide supplemental gifts to a church program supporting children in need in Watsontown and surrounding areas. We will be able to support those children again this year.
On two separate occasions, Father’s Hope provided the funding needed for orphans in Uganda to take part in educational Skype session with students from Meadowbrook Christian School in Milton.
The children in Uganda had to be bussed to a location with electricity just to take part in the two sessions, which were educational in so many ways for both the children in Uganda and the students in Milton.
The stories we have heard of children who have been touched by this mission are numerous and many are incredible. It is because of everyone praying for Father’s Hope, supporting us financially or donating stuffed animals and other items that we have been able to reach so many children across the globe.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything you have done to support Father’s Hope, and more importantly support children from across the globe who need to know just how loved and special they are.
Interested in learning more about Father’s Hope? I’m happy to speak to community groups, churches, classrooms, youth groups and organizations, and any other entity in Central Pennsylvania about our efforts.
I can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a speaking engagement. I’m also happy to answer any additional questions you may have about Father’s Hope or ways to become involved.
Because we are an all-volunteer organization, financial contributions directly benefit the children we work with, either by covering the cost of shipping or delivering items such as small stuffed animals, crayons and coloring books to orphanages and missionaries, or by financially supporting projects at orphanages we directly partner with.
Donations can be sent to Father’s Hope, 9 Greenbriar Drive, Milton PA 17847.
THANK YOU for five years of reaching out to children in need around the world,
Kevin Mertz, director