So happy to be here!

My name is Ashley Cunningham.  You will probably be hearing from me quite a bit in the coming months as I fully step into my new role as Development Director for FOCE.  Basically, as the development director, I am working to grow the FOCE ministry through ongoing fund development and event sponsorship. I am really excited about some of the opportunities we have for you all to be involved in this as well!

My husband and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary next year.  God blessed us with two children that we have had the privilege of raising, Tyler who is a high school senior this year, and Madison, who is on the other end of the high school spectrum as a freshman. Our house is filled with teenage chaos of sports and friends and dreams for the future and plans for the weekend that I wouldn’t trade for anything! These parenting years have been my favorites.

We also recently moved into a “new to us” house that we are in the process of dragging out of the 1980s.  This renovation has already seen quite a bit of our own blood, sweat, and tears. Home improvement tv shows have romanticized this process way beyond the reality of living through one.  Chip and Joanna Gaines we are not, but we are having fun through the process.

We are also sponsors to an amazing young man at Casa Bernabe who has changed our lives over the last year. The work that God began in our hearts during our first visit to Casa Bernabe has brought me to this place today.  Author Jacob Nordby wrote, “You know how every once in a while you do something and the little voice inside says, ‘There. That’s it. That’s why you’re here.’…and you get a warm glow in your heart because you know it’s true? Do more of that.”  So, that’s what I am doing…advocating for the children at Casa Bernabe, sharing the stories of the victories big and small that happen within the orphanage walls, and trying my hardest to love them in both tangible and spiritual ways, continuously, from 1900 miles away.

During my first visit to Casa Bernabe I was struck by the image of this place of care and respite literally being like a city on a hill.  Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” This place is a beacon of hope in a city that is filled with so much hopelessness.  A place for these traumatized children to feel safe and loved.

According to a recent article in Christianity Today, in 2015, Guatemala had the second-highest rate of child murders in the world. Of the crimes against children that get reported—including murder, rape, kidnapping—most go unpunished (88%). An estimated 2 in 5 children are malnourished. Among indigenous children, that rises to 4 in 5. This is the load that these children at Casa Bernabe are carrying with them.

My heart nearly broke during a visit earlier this year when I watched four young brothers being received into Casa Bernabe.  The care with which not only the staff, but the other children, showered them with, to immediately being healing the broken places that they came from touched the deepest part of my soul. This is who not only Casa Bernabe, but every single one of us through our prayers and giving of both our time and resources, is serving.

Additionally, if you have any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions for me in ways that we can communicate with you better, or innovative fundraising thoughts, or even want to share your own Casa Bernabe story, I would welcome the opportunity for opening the door to those conversations.  If you would like to get on my calendar for the coming year to have me come and share, with your church or organization, all of the exciting things that we have accomplished thus far at Casa Bernabe and the needs that we have going forward I would be excited to do that as well!

I am grateful to you for partnering with us! This “city on a hill” functions only as long as we support it.

Ashley Cunningham
Development Director
Friends of Children Everywhere