When we moved our residential girls out of the barrio I felt terrible for those we were leaving behind. We had worked hard to get all their paperwork and bring them up to grade level so they could enter into local schools, but they were still so vulnerable and we wouldn’t be seeing them every single day. So I asked Wanda to meet with them and keep and eye on them and make sure they that if they needed us she would advocate for them to get to us.
She had a gift with youth and I knew if she agreed to keep watch, they would be taken care of. She asked if she could grow it? Of course!! She asked if she could build leaders and create an internship for those leaders she would raise up? FOR SURE!
She was faithful to meet with girls each week, offering them nothing but her love, mentorship and a word that God had placed on her heart to share. She created a safe place and they came.
Soon her group of 15 was nearly 100 and then almost 200. It was literally wall to wall of girls and she had them eating out of the palm of her hand. They were hungry and she only offered the good stuff.
She reminded me of the disciples who went out with nothing and declared, “silver and gold I have none, but what I have I give in the name of the Lord.” That’s how she did it. That’s how she does it, still.
We decided it was time to finally open internship opportunities, work with girls more often, and in smaller groups. When I investigated the minor repairs needed to actually use the house as a home the engineer told me it would be best to just tear it down.
WHAT? We were beside ourselves with sadness and certain there must we a way to save our little mansion on the hill.
Two more engineers said it wasn’t worth the effort. And finally I found one that would do it, make it safe for children, but he wasn’t really excited about the work. I asked him why?
He hd so many reasons why. “This isn’t a fun job. The neighborhood is rough. Everything is hard. The path is terrible and nothing will be safe without constant vigilance. And when it’s finally done, it won’t be beautiful.”
My response was this...
"Oh, that’s where you are wrong! I mean you are right about the neighborhood, the safety of your supplies and the terrible path up to the house, but it will be beautiful. This is a mansion on a hill, it has million dollar views and it reminds girls of their value, purpose and worth. It is beautiful and I just want you to make it safe, don’t change anything. Think of it as restorative work. That’s what we do with girls and that’s what I want you to do with the house. Like restoring a historical relic, a museum, every board, every detail of this house tells a story of God’s provision and goodness. Every single centimeter of it."
He took on the work and listened to my every word. It is beautiful. It was hard and messy and the difficult neighbors gave him a run for his money, but it is beautiful.
We inaugurated it in October and it is full of girls every single day of the week. Wanda had a vision seven years ago and it is coming to life.
But she doesn’t do it alone anymore. She recently hired a full time employee to help her mentor, teach, disciple and lead 200 girls into all they were created to be.
Wanda has renamed our first New Hope house that we once referred to as the mansion on the hill, “The Light House” and she is making sure each girl knows the importance of using their life to shine bright.
Here’s another way to put it:
"You are here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand — SHINE! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
— Matthew 5:14-16 (msg)