Since that first time, Lane has made 30 trips with 27 different groups — going three or four times a year representing the Youth and Christian Education Department of the Church of God. On this last trip, his son, Josh, took 13 students from South Cleveland Church of God, where he serves as youth minister. Including participants from Cleveland and 11 other states, the total number came to almost 40.
Lane said he wants to expose the mission experience to as many as possible.
There are some 70 children in the home. The workers there receive no salary. They are there “because God has placed them there,” Lane said.
Pastor Elias and Teresa Herrera, who have four children of their own, are obeying the call to “restore hope for abandoned and forgotten children.” Many of the children had found a temporary home beneath a bridge and this was where the couple began their ministry. They took food and clothing to them and as relationships developed, opened their home for a place for the children to live. For the first six years, from 1992 to 1998, children were housed in two Sunday school classrooms.
With the help of many groups and organizations, property was purchased and a building plan was instituted. The first building was dedicated in 1999 and two years later, electricity was provided and a paved road was completed.
Lane knew this was his mission. One night in 2001, he awoke with this “ministry on my heart.” Like Esther was told by her uncle Mordecai that it became his choice “for such a time as this.”
“God said He put me in this position to help in this ministry — God placed me there,” Lane added.
He took a group each time from whatever church he was at — “We’ve been in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.” Adults and children alike can participate in the trips. “It’s life-changing for kids,” Lane said. He said it was important to show that children have a story.
One example Lane gave was an 11-year-old girl, Karen. He saw her on the first Christmas trip. Her mother was in the orphanage at age 14 (a prostitute) and gave birth of Karen. The mother left and gave her daughter to the pastor, who adopted her.
Many of the children are victims of prostitution or abuse. One 10-year-old girl, Brenda, was tied to the bed. A teacher heard her screaming for help and rescued her. Now, at age 17, she is the best student in the area, Lane said.
She wrote a letter telling of her experience in coming to the orphanage. She said she didn’t remember anyone greeting or hugging her as she was growing up. “My surprise was great when these supposed brothers and sisters spoke to me,” she said, “and I felt so good that I returned their greeting and I thought they were a bit crazy. It’s just that at that time, I didn’t understand they were giving a gift to Jesus. ... “what you would do unto a child, you do unto Him.” She said she thanks them all and “I can thank God for giving me life to know I was so wrong in thinking that my life was worthless.”
When a group goes in the summer, a giant birthday party is given for the children and at Christmas time, gifts are carried. All are shown attention.
In Mexico, when a girl reaches the age of 15, there is a special ceremony for them — it’s a “Rite of Passage” and includes prayer and dedication. When girls are treated like property, this occasion is very important for them.
A girls’ dorm is still on the drawing board to be built by the Children of the World ministries of the Church of God. On top of the building will be a prayer tower, because, as Lane said, it’s important to teach children to pray and ask God to bless in the ministry and supply their needs.
“It’s a walk by faith,” Lane said. One time, the food ran out and the children got together and prayed and food came. “God seems to multiply the loaves and fishes,” Lane added.
The desperate need at present? No dining room, place of worship or kitchen for those at the orpanage. They meet in a tent when it rains, but are “believing the Lord,” and “God has prevailed ... is opening doors,” Lane said.
And then there are families who live on the dump. The pastor said they are ministering to 23 families in the trash dump. They carry food to their houses and try to supply other needs.
Lane tells the group members they need to understand that children in Poza Rica come from an abusive home or no home at all. Some are still living under the bridge, he said.
“They need to see we are part of the family there,” Lane began.
The trips are expensive, he said, but the rewards are to go back and build and maintain relationships — “Go back and see family.”
There are not “feel good” moments,” Lane explained. Jesus said, “Go and preach.”
They will be going back in January 2013, from Jan. 4-11. Lane said, “If God speaks to your heart and gives you a desire to be involved,” contact him at the Church of God Youth and Discipleship Department, P.O. Box 2430, Cleveland TN 37312.
Lane and his wife, Joy, have a daughter, Meghan, in addition to son, Josh, who is married to Joyce. They have two children, Madison, 6, and Dawson, four months.
“We can’t get free from the orphanage,” Lane said. We want to say ‘thank you’ to the churches as we are all part of the family.
“This is exciting.”