A father whose search for work took him far from his family and tempted him to drink heavily found a new perspective and new faith when he felt Christ speaking to him through the World Vision staff in his community.
Francisco Rodriguez used to have to leave his family to find work in the nearby town of La Esperanza, Honduras. He took any work he could find — usually construction.
“Sometimes, he would just work and make enough money for the day, so it was really, really a difficult life,” says his wife, Carmen Arriaga.
Lack of income wasn’t the only difficulty for this struggling family of eight. When Francisco wasn’t working, he often stayed in town drinking. When he came home drunk, his behavior was unpredictable.
Sometimes, Carmen locked him out of the house. She knew this would make him angry, but she was angry, too.
In 2003, Carmen was pregnant with the last of the couple’s six children. Her doctor thought she was a single mother, because she always came to her appointments alone. When Francisco finally did go with her, the doctor chastised him, asked if he attended church, and wondered why his faith wasn’t affecting his behavior.
Francisco replied that he did go to Mass, but only to keep the seat warm. Still, the doctor’s words got him thinking.
That same year, World Vision invited Francisco to participate in agricultural training. Soon, Francisco was equipped to grow crops on his land, and he could support his family without traveling to the city and facing its temptations.
As Francisco participated in World Vision’s work in his community, he says he began to see how faith in Christ motivated the staff. As a result, his own faith began to grow.
That same year, Father Lucio arrived to serve in the community. Inspired by Father Lucio’s teaching, Francisco attended church regularly. As Francisco’s relationship with Father Lucio grew, the priest asked Francisco to be in charge of a community group. Francisco agreed, but wondered whether he could handle that responsibility.
In that leadership role, Carmen remembers her husband “was touched by God, so he could change.”
In April 2012, World Vision introduced Channels of Hope in the community — a multi-faceted program that encourages Christians to help address cultural beliefs that carry negative impacts, such as HIV and AIDS stigma and gender inequality.
As Francisco attended the Channels of Hope training, he became more open to Carmen’s participation.
“Now, there is no longer any chauvinism,” he says. “It’s the church that has changed us and shown us that men and woman are worth exactly the same in the eyes of the Lord — and that we have exactly the same rights.”
Carmen has blossomed and grown more confident. “It’s been a transformation that is incredible, and every day I thank God because this has totally changed every step I take,” she says. “World Vision has been like a right arm for us.”
Now, Carmen leads a support group for pregnant women and new mothers, which is part of World Vision’s focus on maternal and child health. She speaks confidently, providing other community members with health information she learned from World Vision’s training.
These days, Carmen is often out in the community, working with women. Francisco frequently is the parent who prepares dinner for his children, something he never would have dreamed of doing just a few years ago.
Their only son, Ever Francisco, 9, was born just as Francisco’s life began to change. He attends many of the spiritual trainings with his father.
“I think that he is learning all this, and that is what will make a better man out of him,” says Francisco.
The man who used to disappear and keep his family on edge now spends time working and praying with his family. He even makes time to play with his children.
A single tear of joy slips from Carmen’s eye as she acknowledges the amazing transformation that has taken place in her family.
“I’m just happy,” Francisco says, “having a life that I have with my wife, with the daughters, and doing what we’re doing. There are many people who are tired of life, but we aren’t. We all have the drive to continue developing and to continue forth.
“And so, we’re very happy and satisfied.”
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