Chelsie Kormeier/contributing writer
SANTA CRUZ DEL QUICHE, Guatemala – No one wanted Benito. He had no family. So he was passed around from place to place until three years ago, when he landed in Casa De Mi Padre at the age of 11. No one wanted Benito until Shane Sanderson, founder of Casa De Mi Padre, shared his heart with him and taught him the hope of Jesus.
“He always touches my heart,” said Sanderson, a member of Missouri Valley Baptist Church in St. Joseph. At any given time, Casa De Mi Padre, an orphanage located in the town of Santa Cruz del Quiche, Guatemala, consistently provides a home for 23 or more children like Benito. The children call Sanderson, “Papa Shane.” Casa De Mi Padre means, “My Father’s House.”
Each child has a different story, and nothing can change the past or erase painful memories. When little Reyna came to the orphanage and told her story to Sanderson, it ripped out his heart. At the age of 10, she earned money selling tortilla’s every day. But when she didn’t meet her quota, her mother would become violently angry, beat her, and melt plastic objects to burn her skin. She came to the orphanage with untreated third-degree burns.
But Isa. 61:3 motivates Sanderson to serve children like Reyna and share with them the life-changing love and hope found in Christ. The heartbeat of Casa De Mi Padre, he said, is “to bestow upon them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.”
“It is beautiful,” he added, “to see the Word of God touch and change kid’s lives. That’s what we do.”
Born and raised in Kansas City, Sanderson made St. Joseph his home many years ago when he came on staff with Midland Ministries, a youth ministry outreach. He has always had a youth pastor’s heart, but at the age of 46 he found himself needing to make some life changes.
“I had a youth pastor’s heart, but my heart was transforming into a father’s heart,” Sanderson said. His current ministry, at that time, was coming to a close, and he found himself at a crossroads. He felt desperate and turned to God for guidance.
“I was on my knees, hands lifted toward heaven, (praying), ‘Lord please don’t fire me. Use me. I have served you faithfully. I want to serve you.’ Then the Lord spoke to my soul,” Sanderson recalled. Then he realized that God was calling him to start an orphanage, and from that moment pieces began to fall into place. Several Southern Baptist churches from Missouri, as well as other supporters, caught word of the new ministry and wanted be a part of it.
In a recent prayer letter to his supporters, Sanderson wrote, “Our desire is that somehow in all we do, in spite of our failures and flailing, Almighty God would speak and call the children He has given us to Himself, that He would use us to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.”