The Story Behind the Leaders
By NMC - March 30, 2017
Posted in Partnerships, Global Impact, Stories from NMC
Through small cracks in the door, Cindy caught a glimpse of a knife. She used all of the weight on her ten-year-old frame to push open the door, but her stepfather had locked it, trapping her mom with him. Outside, rain poured from the sky, beating against the roof as hard as Cindy’s heart beat in her chest. Behind her, her four younger siblings watched, fear and worry etched across their little faces. She tried to ignore the tears that ran down her cheeks and begged her stepfather to let her mom go.
Her pleas were ignored.
When Cindy couldn’t stand it any longer, she ran through the house, out the door and to her uncle’s house next door. Gasping for air, she explained the situation.
Indifference dripped off his words as he waved her away, “Calm down. They will be happy again soon.”
The blood left her face, and her knees buckled slightly. A loud, low-pitched hum filled her ears and for a moment, the world around her blurred. She felt her little legs carry her outside, back to her house, but as the world came back into focus, her legs twisted underneath her. The air left her lungs as she hit the ground, and as the rain hit her face, she was left with one thought, “I am alone, so very alone.”
Enoch’s father and mother did their best to provide for the family, but sometimes there just wasn’t enough. Some days they had food. Some days they didn’t. As a pastor’s son, he knew he needed to trust the Lord to provide, but when his stomach churned furiously, sending hunger pains through his body, it was hard not to take matters into his own hands.
As a boy, he had to leave his family and live by himself for a time. He scrounged for food and tried to find anyone who could help. His parents did whatever they could do to earn money for the family, but sometimes it just wasn’t enough. There were days, many days, when he felt alone, like the weight of the world sat on his little-boy shoulders.
In those days, Enoch couldn’t even dream about who he might become or what he might want to do in the future. All he could do was try to survive through the night to see the sun rise again.
A few miles off the main road in Catacamas, Honduras, a school can be spotted. It is known as El Sembrador, which translates to The Sower. This school educates both boys and girls from the surrounding towns and villages. Additionally, it also provides vocational training and a home for approximately 80 boys who live on campus.
This incredible school is led by Enoch and Cindy Ulloa. Their stories of abuse and poverty, of hurt and difficulty, are also stories of grace and redemption, of healing and potential. And their stories are not unlike the stories of many of the kids at El Sembrador.
“Now I understand why I went through terrible things as child,” Cindy explained. “I understand why God provided healing from my abusive stepfather and redeemed the difficulties I faced in my childhood.”
As the school principal, Cindy intentionally builds relationships with her students, and it’s not uncommon for them to share their stories with her. Time and again, the stories mirror her own. A student might live with an abusive parent or stepparent, a student might not eat adequate meals at home, a student might have to act as the mom or dad of the home.
“Today, when students share with me about their difficult experiences, I get it. I can relate with them because of what I grew up with. Because of how the Lord has transformed my life over the years, my students can find hope and comfort,” Cindy said.
Although Enoch, the school’s director, did not grow up in an abusive home like Cindy, he did experience a childhood of extreme poverty. As a child, he carried burdens no child should carry. Yet, by the grace of God, he was given opportunities to break out of the poverty cycle.
“I know that many of our students come from situations similar to mine,” Enoch explained. “They are just looking for opportunity, for a chance to rise above their current situation.”
Opportunity, in Honduras, comes in the form of education. Without an education, it is difficult, if not impossible, to break out of the poverty cycle. Enoch’s education led him to a degree in accounting. Through hard work and perseverance, Enoch sharpened his skills and worked in accounting for many years.
“Today when I see our students, I see a bit of myself. I see the days when I went hungry or carried heavy burdens. But I also see where God has brought me now,” Enoch said.
Enoch and Cindy’s stories are much bigger than these small snapshots of their childhoods. Their stories are ones of hard work, of seizing opportunity, of being courageous, of dreaming and chasing after goals. Their stories are ones of finding the Lord and serving Him, trusting Him to accomplish only what He can.
“Every single student has immense potential, the same potential Cindy and I had at their age. They all have opportunities, and I want to do whatever I can to help my students see their potential! I also want to do whatever I can to bring other ‘Enochs’ and ‘Cindys’ to this school to provide opportunities for them,” Enoch said.
This is what motivates Enoch and Cindy to carry on day after day and to dream big, audacious dreams for El Sembrador. As Enoch says so often, one day, one of their students may just become the director of El Sembrador or the principal of the school.
Would you like to meet Enoch and Cindy? Join us at the El Sembrador banquet April 20 at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 each or a table can be bought for $80. All proceeds will go toward El Sembrador. You can purchase tickets by April 9 at the Ministry Center or by calling the Church Office (574.773.7773).