Pastor Sam Goff and his family are child sponsors of Laura, a little girl in Guatemala. More than a photo on their refrigerator, child sponsorship has made Laura like a member of the Goff family.
“My daughter writes our family’s letters to Laura,” Sam said, “largely because she and Laura are the same age.”
Laura is a frequent topic of conversation in the Goff household. Recently Sam’s daughter came home talking about a classmate named Laura and commented, “Just like our Laura!”
The Goff family’s influence in Guatemala reaches beyond Laura and her family. Laura’s community and the surrounding region also benefits. As the Minister of Missions at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church (CABC) in Brownwood, Texas, Sam has developed a church partnership that is impacting many lives.
Why Food for the Hungry?
Pastor Sam Goff visited his family’s sponsored child, Laura, on a visit to Guatemala.
Around the time Sam joined staff at the church, he also began teaching a course on global health at Howard Payne University. He pursued the idea of taking his students overseas on a practicum. Having worked on staff at Food for the Hungry (FH) previously, he had a strong desire to go back to Guatemala where he had developed strong connections.
Sam led several student trips to Guatemala where the students provided water filters and helped to build two structures: a health clinic and a school. Through these trips, God opened doors for CABC to begin their own missions relationship with FH in Guatemala.
“Thus far CABC has led two medical mission trips to Guatemala,” Sam said. “God willing, we will be able to add a dental mission trip next year. In God’s perfect timing, He opened the door for us to work with FH in Guatemala!”
Four Reasons to Partner with FH
Sam’s experience on FH staff gave him a unique perspective. He understood the reasons to develop a missions partnership with the organization. He listed four motivators for the partnership between FH and CABC.
First, Sam commented, “FH has the best Christian community development model I’ve encountered.” He noted that FH has well-defined objectives and that they partner in communities for an average of 10-12 years, which he said was an ideal period of time for development to take place.
FH has an exit strategy. “The overarching goal is to graduate communities out of extreme poverty by building capacities in education, health and nutrition, livelihoods, and institutional strengthening,” he said. The approach of graduating communities means that FH and the church partner are always working toward the community’s independence from outside aid.
FH is a Christian organization. “All of this is done while intentionally presenting and teaching a Christian worldview,” Sam said. “FH seeks to fulfill the ‘ministry of reconciliation’ (2 Corinthians 5:18) because of Him who has already and is presently ‘reconciling to Himself all things’ (Colossians 1:19-20).
Finally, FH acknowledges that everyone comes with brokenness. “I appreciate that FH stimulates donor churches and individuals to recognize our own brokenness,” Sam said. “We shouldn’t show up expecting to have the solutions to communities’ spiritual and physical brokenness. No! Instead, we walk with the communities hand in hand while recognizing that we are all broken in different ways. We are all in need of a transformation from the inside out that only God can do in each of us.”
Multiplying the Influence
From the beginning of CABC’s partnership, Sam has sought out other churches to join their mission. This year, five members from First Baptist Church (FBC) of Crowley, Louisiana joined their team to Guatemala.
“When God brings together strangers and unifies them in spirit and purpose, it is beautiful!” Sam commented. “Moreover, based on what they experienced with FH and the community, FBC Crowley is planning to do a mission trip in 2018 independently.”
Sam isn’t stopping there. “My desire is to invite members of other congregations to join us on mission trips so that they too may experience first-hand the excellent work that FH is doing, and may, like FBC Crowley, take the step of partnering with FH to help communities overcome extreme poverty,” he said. “Hopefully, each year another church will join us.”
Advocacy on the Hill
Recently, Sam has learned of potential funding changes at the federal level of the U.S. government that would impact the Food for Peace program and the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance program, two programs that are critical for reaching the world’s most vulnerable people.
Sam feels that his advocacy is a necessary part of his faith. “My reading of Scripture about God’s love for the poor compels me to speak up, to get my hands dirty, to care about my neighbor across the street and beyond borders,” he said. “My desire is to lead others in their faith journey as allow ourselves to be molded into the shape of Jesus Christ.”
Close to Home
Even as Sam’s care for the poor takes him to Washington, D.C., Louisiana and Guatemala, some of his most precious impact occurs right at home. When he reflects on his family’s sponsorship of Laura, he recognizes that they have been transformed too.
“My daughter’s heart for the world has expanded,” Sam said. “She has a friend in Guatemala that she has not yet met.”
The pictures included are: (1) Laura, who is the Goff family’s sponsored child, (2) the May 2017 mission team from CABC and FBC Crowley, (3) visiting a child and family. Child is sponsored by a CABC church member, and (4) In May 2017 we provided stoves to the 33 households of Sesalche. The gentleman in the picture, Omar, designed and developed these stoves.
‘Tis The Season for Thankfulness
At this time of year, we start to think about the reasons why we’re thankful. It takes effort to instill an attitude of thankfulness in children. That’s why Food for the Hungry developed a FREE resource to help you do just that for the children in your life.
The fun family activities in 7 Days to Teach Your Child a Thankful Heart are designed to help you show your kids all of the blessings they can be thankful for.
Your family will:
Go on excursions to notice the blessings around you
Create fun crafts showing your thankfulness
Talk about Scripture verses about thankfulness Share a thankfulness message around a family meal