10:29 PM   //   by Katrina Paez   //   Blog  //  No Comments

This year we are looking forward to seeing what God has planned. In 2018 there were some significant changes in the lives of various families, some moved away from dangerous slums, some parents graduated from high school and others graduated from sewing class. Hundreds heard the gospel as they were involved in activities such as indoor soccer, music, arts, or received one on one tutoring.  Discipleship happened through weekly meetings and  spiritual growth was evident  in the children who attended  Camp Joy. We are in need of  many more volunteers for 2019. Come and be part of the picture.Estaff 2018 (2) You can use your skills and talents, be up front or behind the scenes.  Consider dedicating  this year to volunteering.

The Story that Changed

07:58 PM   //   by Katrina Paez   //   Blog  //  No Comments


About 20 years ago a family who lived in the worst drug neighborhood of the city asked for help. Four boys of that family came to live full time in residential care. One of the people who had befriended the family accepted the Lord’s call to become their main house parent (read: Dad).

The journey of those four brothers has not been easy. It takes a lot to surrender to God’s will, to follow the rules of the house and to allow the Lord to heal you, add the common struggles of going through adolescence and the pressures from others who do not want you to change. The decision to not continue under the ministry house rules for some of the brothers lead them to become of the world. However, the third brother stayed all through his childhood, adolescence and university years. He completed a DTS and basically went through each stage that the ministry had established of the restoring process.

The youngest lived with his mother for a time but the last few years has lived with his ministry family and his number one priority is serving the Lord. He completed his DTS and wishes to do another YWAM training school, then get a university degree before returning to missions. The second brother is also living with his ministry family and working and saving to complete a DTS.

This last weekend all the brothers were together. All of them are following the Lord and facing life challenges by following Jesus’s example.

Our main way to evaluate the ministry programs is to see how these children, who grew up in the ministry, are raising their own children. While watching the oldest brother interact with his kids we could only give Glory to God for the work that He has done.

The reason the brothers were all together was for the wedding of the third brother. Their extended family including half-siblings were also present. We were able to see a dozen third-generation members of this family along with both the moms and dads interacting positively.

** These four brothers’ story changed as God transformed them from the streets to become men who seek Him. And best of all is that through God’s help the next generation will not be destroyed through life on the streets.


More than just sewing classes

11:22 AM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

The staff at Friends Club “Bridge” program (for moms who need to learn job skills) has been praying for months to be more than just a job skills program. “We need God to open up doors and show us how to integrate discipleship more into this program. We’re not here just to teach them to sew, but how do we do that?” they prayed.
When we faithfully pray, in accordance to Father’s will (for all to come to experiential knowledge of saving grace), He works!
One day, in a casual conversation, four of the women decided to accept Christ into their lives! It was a powerful reminder that God is at work, no matter what we do or don’t feel or see… and that we can do nothing in our own strength!
Devotional with the sewing and discipleship class

Sweeter than honey

10:01 AM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

“The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.  They are more precious than gold… they are sweeter than honey…” Psalm 19:9-10


How valuable is God’s word to us? At Camp Gozo, the children got to take home a big bag of candy each!  They were obviously excited about their sweets.  They also had the opportunity to exchange their bag of candy for a Bible, something many of them don’t have in their homes.

One boy came forward, handing over his goodies and receiving a new Bible.  “The candy is going to run out,” he said, “But the Bible won’t!”

Praise God for this young man’s wisdom!  May the Holy Spirit bring fruit in his life as he cherishes God’s word.  Pray for all the children and teens who participated in Camp Gozo in June, 2016, and for those who will participate later this year, that their spirits will be open and hungry for the Living Word.

bible blog

Madera en Demolición

11:54 AM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

We bought some new bunk beds. After walking all over the “furniture neighborhood,” we settled on a style that is very sturdy, with thick columns that feel like they will never be wobbly (like the previous beds)! They are made from “Madera en demolición”: wood from demolished buildings, heavy-duty beams and columns in long-lasting wood. The beds come with a lifetime guarantee.

“How can we tell if it’s really demolition wood or not?” we asked… Because there are businesses that imitate this style, calling it “demolition wood” but really using soft pine wood and staining it to look like the real deal. (They, of course, can’t offer a lifetime guarantee. The wood cracks as it dries and is much lighter-weight and easily damaged.) The shopkeeper explained this to us, and let us see and feel the difference between chairs in the two different kinds of wood.

beds HR

The carpenter told us, “This wood is really great, but it comes out of old buildings, so it takes a lot of work to prepare it. It’s full of screws and nails when it comes to us, which would damage all the machines we use. First, we have to take out all of that junk in order to be able to reuse it and make it into something beautiful again.”

In Formando Vidas, we do the same thing, but with children. And this work, of letting Holy Spirit use us to remove nails and sand out scars, is slow but rewarding. Lifetime guaranteed.

Fathers’ Day

01:12 PM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Happy Fathers’ Day to all the dads out there (biological, adoptive/foster, and spiritual fathers)! Alex Peña received a special Fathers’ Day gift this year – a visit from “daughter” Jenny, who now lives in Chile! She came with her husband and their two children to see her family in Formando Vidas. It’s so great to see the fruit of years of love and labor in her life, just like in the lives of many other young adults who have passed through the ministry. God never quits! He’s a forever-loving Father!


New Accountant

01:00 PM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments


After many years with Robyn Patzig’s service as our U.S. accountant, the time has come for someone else to fill that role.
Our new accountant is Kevin Canaday, of Visalia, California.
Please note this change of address for all mailed donations, bank drafts or auto-pays, and tax statements:

Formando Vidas
c/o Kevin Canaday
4025 S. Creekside Court
Visalia, CA 93277

Telephone: 661-375-0365

Thank you for your support!



Paper Cell phones

12:35 PM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

“This is my cell phone,” she bragged to her second-grade classmates, holding the paper rectangle where she had drawn numbers and a screen.  “It has a password and everything!” She sure was enjoying this game and her friends seemed impressed.  All but one boy, that is.

He reached over and moved his finger across the “screen” in a pattern.  “I blocked it!” he taunted. The note from school said that she had hit her classmate, and the little girl sobbed as she told us the story behind the note!  She had been so proud of her phone; surely it made her feel important during recess, until the boy ruined her credibility!

A paper cell phone may seem silly to us (after all, we are such “mature adults,” right?) but this little one’s frustration and pain was real for her.  Her classmate had just moved her down a few rungs.  Maybe you don’t punch your classmate; maybe no one sends a note home about your bad behavior… but those moments where we feel devalued help show us areas in which we aren’t depending on God as our only source of value. What do you feel you need in order to “be somebody”?  What happens when your “identity-givers” get taken from you?  Invite Jesus into those areas of your life, let Him show you your paper cell phones, give them up and be amazed as He restores your true identity.



Water Hookup

07:41 PM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

It’s a long story, but this is a blog, so we’ll sum it up.

For more than ten years, we have been pursuing getting a city water hookup at the farm – the Restored Heritage – and the different government and water company officials keep passing the problem on to someone else. Without city water, we can’t have more people living at the farm; no more children, no more staff.

We have three houses for the purpose of Restoring a godly Heritage to children and their families here, and there is room for more… except we don’t currently have enough water to supply to more!

A mother water pipe passes through our land and we were promised a water connection, but the government has not fulfilled their part of the agreement. God’s vision is clear: the Restored Heritage is to impact many children and their families. We need to see His miracles in providing water urgently, and also in winning the legal battle to get city water! Please join us in praying that the battle will be won quickly and water will be freely accessible so that the houses will be full of children hearing His word and feeling His love.

Blessed, rather…

11:21 AM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Luke 11:27-28

As they’ve gotten to know each other, through English classes and Bible study and quality time, the two women have formed a relationship of trust.  One of them is tall, fair, English.  The other is short, dark-skinned, Colombian.  One studied in University to become a teacher.  The other learned a trade as a ceramist, but now sells jerseys by the stadium.  They both enjoy learning.

The Englishwoman is a devout follower of Jesus Christ, dedicating her time to help others know Him as well as improve their living circumstances.  The Colombian is a devotee of the Virgin Mary, crediting her with having saved her youngest child’s life, as well as her own.  Time and again in their conversations, the topic of Mary has come up.  This is typical in conversations between Catholics and Evangelicals here.  Mary seems to be the biggest “sticking point,” almost impossible to get beyond.

On this particular day, though, the Englishwoman watched as Holy Spirit moved, opening up the conversation.  She had been studying about the Catholic belief of Mary as the “Queen of Heaven,” and its roots in ancient idolatry.  Her Colombian friend asked, exasperated, “What’s the problem with Mary?  I don’t see what the big deal is!”

“Jesus never instructed his followers to worship his mother.”  And her English friend was able to take her to Scripture, to let her read for herself, and let Holy Spirit do His job: convicting of sin and unbelief.  Later, they read in the book of Revelation about how a woman who caused others to commit idolatry would be cast down, together with those who were her devotees.

“Well, I guess I’m going to have to change the way I think,” expressed the Colombian friend as she considered all that she had read. Virgin_Mary_carries_Jesus