Updated: Nov 29, 2018
Hi Steve, please introduce yourself
My name is Steve Miles. I’m a husband, a dad, a lover of sport, good food and hanging out with friends. I’m the leader of The Source, a church we began in Brackley England 6 years ago and also a mentor to professional footballers around the UK for a charity called Christians in Sport. Trained as a farm manager, life has been an interesting adventure - one in which God constantly surprises and challenges me to trust, step out, make a difference and not become comfortable.
Steve at Samuelito Project praying for the children who have come along to an activity.
I was exposed to the world of poverty about 9 years ago in Sierra Leone. I had what I call a ‘popeye’ moment - that moment when I just had to say ‘I can’t stanz it no more’. My heart was mashed up and I knew in some small way I couldn’t simply stand by and do nothing.
How did you get to visit the Nicodemus partner projects in Guatemala?
As a church we partnered with Nicodemus in piloting a mentoring programme with Young Adults from a homeless project in Banbury. The Welford family are part of our church community and in hearing about the work in Guatemala we were keen to explore how we might support the work in a wider way. My eyes had been opened to poverty not simply by hearing, but by tasting and seeing it for myself and we are keen to give others the opportunity to do the same. As a result I went out to visit and see what is going on and how we might serve and support it. Alongside that 18 months ago I had co-presented on a documentary for UCB “World of Hope’, and I was asked if we could use this trip to produce the next in the series.
What was a particularly impacting part to your trip?
So much … the people were amazing. Warm, welcoming and passionate. Two things particularly stand out. The first happened on a night out in Guatemala City with Time of Rescue, an organisation who act as an emergency service to the 12,000 street kids and adults. We’d been with them during the day, but with camera’s in tow they had often ‘cleaned up’ so it had all felt a bit clinical. On this occasion though the cameras weren’t present and we weren’t seeing - we were right in the thick of reality. A 16 yr old girl with a 3 week baby had escaped from her uncle, a known drug dealer, and headed onto the streets. It’s a dark and dangerous place. Our job - to find them! We had received a tip off and headed to an abandoned pizza shop. Now it was real! As we entered the damp, dingy building we noticed a young man on my left surrounded in a pool of his own vomit, 3 other boys smashed out of their heads on drugs, a dog and a bundle of rags on the filthy floor. Inside we discovered the baby asleep, totally oblivious to it’s reality. On a block next to it, 2 bags of marajuana, 5 spliffs and a spoon covered in a white powder … baby milk! What hope for this child growing up in a place like this? For now at least she would be safe … or at least off the streets - thank goodness Time of Rescue are there showing compassion and bringing hope to the hopeless.
Time of Rescue team with the missing mother and baby
The second time was in a place known as La Limonada. When we spoke to locals they were shocked to know we had gone in. La Limonada is an area in Guatemala where police don’t go. It is ‘run’ by 5 gangs, the most notorious is Mara 18. Children aged 9-13 are targeted by gangs either for prostitution or to murder. If you decline … your life ends. Simple as! I had been invited to speak at a lunch for 26 guys from Mara 18. Kimberly, whose brother had been killed by the gangs, had used her pain and turned it as a force for good. She had started a lunch club as an outreach and I had been invited to speak at a lunch for 26 guys from Mara 18. I spoke about potential, about leadership and the opportunity to pick up the pen and write a different story. Around the room lights were going on in - it was profound. If it couldn’t get any better, at the end I shared with them the greatest news in the world - God’s unconditional love and grace and his power to change a heart. 12 of the 26 stood to respond - to say yes. One of the most humbling moments of my life.
Men who came along to the gang lunch in La Limonada
How did you see the church in action?
In so many ways because the church isn’t a building it’s the people and everywhere we went we found people, compelled by God’s love in them, reaching out to the least, the last and the lost. In La Limonda showing love and sharing hope to a bunch of gang members - literally putting their lives on the line.
Eating at gang lunch
In a rehab centre for men - no medical intervention just prayer, worship, teaching and transformed lives. On the streets of Guatemala City through the compassion of Cesar and Time of Rescue bringing medical care, emergency support and offering better alternatives. Pastor Rudy and his family providing lunch for over 30 homeless people each week as well as a place to shower, a change of clothes and someone to show and share love to those rejected and neglected by society.
Rehab center. Steve preaching to the men (top photo) Men from the rehab center (above)
In My Special Treasure as Carole and Cesar shower broken and abused girls with love and compassion and seeing them rebuild their lives and becoming ambassadors of hope themselves on the rubbish dump at Chimaltenago.
3 girls from My Special Treasure
In the life of Pastor Luis and his church developing a community resource centre not just a religious institution reaching out to the poor and needy of Chimaltenago.
Kimberly (Young Adult) volunteering with the TIme of Rescue team with street living youth.
In the movement of Young Adults with Purpose in Guatemala - the mentors who invest into broken people and see their lives transformed.
In the lives of the mentees as they in turn serve others. Every where we went - part of the healing process is found in helping others. What saddened me most is that very few of the churches are actually involved! In Guatemala City there are 4000+ churches and 12000 street kids, youth and adults. Do the maths … it wouldn’t take much!
How is ‘helping the YOUNG transform THEIR world’ being lived out in Guatemala?
Part of what is being imparted to these YOUNG adults is the power to make a difference. Not just to make life better for themselves, but to understand our lives have a greater purpose - to serve others.
Former street youth Gersen (left), Alberto (Right) ministering to their friend Jason (middle) who is still living on the streets.
Former street kids are going back onto the streets to share their story and help others see there is another choice; abused girls are going down to the rubbish dump to teach English and Maths. Out of that one inspired act 110 kids now get education & food on a daily basis and even more … people who show them love and dignity!
A girl washing up her bowl after having some cake at the Education Center
Community projects such as football matches and food - a small thing, but a BIG deal to a street kid. Showing love to a bunch of recovering addicts rejected by their own families gives them the courage to believe and work for a different future.
Football match with Young Adults and Street Youth
Something you didn’t know and now know since visiting Guatemala?
I didn’t know Guacamole was made from avocado nor that Spanish was such a beautiful language
3 words to describe Guatemala
Challenging, beautiful, passionate
Would you like to return?