On a dusty, unpaved road outside the city center of a little-known town in Mexico, twenty miles from the Guatemalan border, sit three jewels – beautiful homes for children ages five to twenty-one operated by Mission on the Move (MOM) and developed by missionaries Hope and Steve Shearouse. After ten years of leading mission teams to Honduras and Mexico from their United Methodist church in Georgia, Hope and Steve sensed God was calling them to open a home for children in Tapachula, Mexico. In 2002, they took a two bedroom, two bath tin-roofed structure that had been a refugee center, renovated it, and five months later moved in two little boys, six year old Jose, and eight year old Alde. Two weeks later, six year old Moises moved in. Today, Jose, in college, and Moises, studying accounting, still live in the home. Alde has graduated from college and is a special education teacher.
MOM provides a home where many miracles have occurred. It started with the transformation of a vacant building and empty cornfield into homes, and the creation of families and futures for over seventy-five children. Eighteen-year-old Samuel came to the boys’ home when he was eleven. He was having discipline problems in school and struggled with drugs. He started stealing to support his drug habit and got kicked out of elementary school. After several attempts in a rehab facility, he returned to his MOM home and said he really wanted to change. Sammy wanted love and respect, but did not know how to get it. Music helped save him. In 2015, a mission team brought a musician with a guitar. Sammy picked up the guitar and started trying to play. The team member encouraged him, saying he had natural talent. Now, after taking music lessons Sammy is playing the drums, guitar, and electric guitar for their local church. Music helped turn his life around in a positive direction.
Currently twenty-seven children live in two boys’ homes and one girls’ home. Their parents are in prison or otherwise unable care for them. The government has referred them or their parents have been told by Hope and Steve during prison visits their children are invited to live at the home while they are in prison. Hope and Steve have created a family and home for these children, complete with their own bed, clean clothes, delicious meals, homework help, academic guidance, daily responsibilities, and spiritual growth and support.
Chapelwood’s connection to Mission on the Move and Tapachula, Mexico, began in 2003 when Dr. Jim Jackson, Chapelwood’s senior pastor at the time, introduced Chapelwood mission staff and lay leaders to Hope and Steve and MOM ministries in Honduras and Mexico. Jim was a good friend of Rev. Ed Cadle, also a Georgia United Methodist minister, who had started Mission on the Move out of his undying passion for the poor and downtrodden. Chapelwood sent its first team in 2004 and with one exception has sent a team every year since.
Our fourteen-year partnership has included teams through Women’s Ministry, Global Missions, and individuals such as Ellen Kurio, whose heart was captured by the children. Ellen, a MOM board member, personally supported many a fifteen year old girl’s quinceañera with her presence and her gifts. She left a legacy of scholarship support for girls and boys who want to go to college. Presently Chapelwood member Carl Sandlin serves on the MOM Board.
Chapelwood has been blessed for more than a decade working with missionaries Hope and Steve. For several years, they have been praying about their retirement and for missionaries to take their place. Those prayers have been answered by Adam and Jennifer Baldruff and their fourteen year old daughter, Sydney, also from Georgia. In February 2017, the Baldruffs were on a mission trip to Honduras when they mentioned to the MOM missionary there that they were feeling led into full-time mission work. The missionary told them that MOM was looking for missionaries to serve in Tapachula. A month later they were interviewed by the MOM Board, and after careful discernment were offered the position in Tapachula. Adam taught history for ten years and is a licensed United Methodist local pastor. Jennifer is a nurse managing a large clinical practice.
We look back and see how God has been moving in Tapachula throughout the last 14 years. Chapelwood has been a part of watching the MOM children grow into successful adults. Now we look forward to the future and a continued partnership and love for each of our children at Mission on the Move.