As Timothy & Sharie Martiny, the founders of Cadaniño, complete their 21st year as missionaries serving in Guatemala, we thought it might be interesting to share an outside perspective from someone who walked alongside them and had a unique view of the process that led to the creation of what is now a successful after-school program that empowers local teachers to impact countless lives and brings about lasting change for eternity.
By Dr. Robert Little, Cadanino INC board member.
About 15 years ago, I heard Tim Martiny speak in a local Bible study group. In humble terms, he explained the ministry he and his wife did with children at an orphanage in Guatemala. Tim had a contagious enthusiasm for the precious children he and his family worked with. Having done several short-term mission outreaches throughout Central America, I was attracted to his developing work with these young ones in such need. He was doing things I had dreamed of doing, and I began supporting their efforts.
With time, I began to see an intriguing picture of compassion applied with love and faithfulness to children struggling to survive in a chaotic world. As they persevered in their ministry, it became apparent that most children in Guatemala's orphanages were not orphans but had been placed there because of the parents' inadequate resources, abuse, or negligence.
After supporting for a few years, I wanted to see the ministry firsthand, so I traveled to Guatemala and spent time with Tim, Sharie, and their delightful family of 6 children. I saw the marvelous job they were doing teaching vulnerable children. Through regular Bible study, cooking, carpentry, computer classes, and personal time, they ministered to children who truly needed the love of God.
Tim set up a wood shop at the orphanage where children crafted wooden pens for sale. Profits of which were saved in individual accounts for children's futures. Observing Tim's time constraints in teaching, I proposed he have older children instruct the younger ones. This approach freed up Tim's time and enhanced the older children's understanding, and the teaching mantra "See one, do one, teach one" became a central method in all their efforts.
Over time, the ministry shifted focus to address the root causes of the "orphan" issue by engaging directly with families in the slums where they live.
By my next visit, Tim and Sharie had started working with a small school in the impoverished Colonia Santa Fe. They repurposed a garage, which my son and I helped refurbish, into a training center that later became Cadaniño. Their main goals were spiritual guidance, academic support, including computer skills, and family empowerment. They enlisted Eduardo, a community teacher, to manage these educational efforts.
With time, Cadaniño expanded its ministry from one teacher in a tiny garage to sixteen full-time staff, nearly all community members, in two much larger community centers in Colonia Santa Fe and San José Pinula, serving hundreds of students and their families.
These are the outward visible results. The real story is on the inside. Each program has been preceded by much prayer by the Martiny's and their staff and supporters. Each step has been taken in great faith, often with just enough money to pay for the initial rent payment or first month's salary but none for operating expenses or subsequent months' rent. God has miraculously supplied, often at the last minute.
Even more important are the lives being touched and transformed by the ministry. Children and adolescents enter a secure environment from desperately broken homes and life-threatening living circumstances. In some neighborhoods, children from one side of the street can't play with children from the other. But, at Cadaniño, both can learn in a safe, supportive space where their fears and cries are seen and listened to. Their lives are supported and systematically trained for future success. Children are graduating high school where once the average grade level attained for all was just fourth grade. Graduates are getting internships in IT firms, out-competing students from better schools and higher socio-economic groups. I believe we are just beginning to see how far students may go in future studies and careers.
Families are being strengthened; single mothers are finding help raising their children. Fathers are coming for special events for their children in impressive numbers, families in crisis are being served, and students are learning to serve others and live out the scriptural mandate to reach widows and orphans.
Most of all, spiritual needs are met daily. Staff are extremely sensitive to children in crisis and who are recognizably distressed. It is a regular practice to identify students with particular needs and to meet with them privately to confidentially discuss their needs and pray tor them. Great effort is taken to provide as much support as needed.
The Gospel is clearly central and presented in many ways. Core spiritual character principles are taught by personal expressions of caring and examples of love, symbolic examples of positive Biblical character traits, and interaction with students in various contexts, settings, and teaching methods.
One key thing about Cadaniño programs is that the Biblical philosophy taught in 2 Tim 2:2 of teaching others to teach others has been successfully implemented among the teachers and students. If we only practice the same idea in church ministry, we will see exponential growth in our churches.
One last point is very poignant. I asked Edwardo about the threat of gang violence towards the Cadaniño center in Santa Fe. He told me that they have been spared while violence is increasing in the community. Likely because the gang members know what Cadaniño is doing for the children of the community, particularly for their own children and they are grateful, respect and value what Cadaniño does and will seek to put it at risk.
That means Cadaniño has not only gang member respect, it has the respect of the community, something that is incredibly hard to achieve intentionally and is an unusually valuable asset. It can be used as leverage to begin greater outreach into the community. Cadaniño has a unique opportunity to enter a new phase of Godly influence in a deeply deprived community. However, that is also a giant and challenging step not quickly taken. Put this one on your prayer list as an item for Godly consideration.
During a talk at Cadaniño, I noticed a distressed teenage girl. Unable to speak with her immediately, I found her in a computer classroom with the youth pastor's help. We prayed together in private, her tears evident of the pain she wasn't ready to discuss. The staff will continue supporting her, showcasing the ministry's strength in engaging with students personally.
I urge you to please pray for Cadaniño's staff, students, and the families they serve. It is incredibly important work they are doing. Also, pray for the Martiny's and the board's guidance and financial support for the ministry's growth.
I believe this ministry will continue to do amazing things for God.
Partner with Cadaniño today and impact lives for eternity!