Manila native follows his heart
Guatemala is a long way from Manila, Ark., where David Owens grew up. With today's technology, distances don't seem as great as they once did. With e-mail, web sites and face-to-face contact with Skype, technology is at our fingertips.
Small town residents take great joy in knowing what the young people they watched grow up are doing in adulthood. Owens and his wife, Lindsey, are doing missionary work.
A 2006 Manila High School graduate, David went on to graduate from Arkansas State University in May 2011. Lindsey is a 2006 graduate of Prairie Grove High School and a 2010 graduate of John Brown University.
David and Lindsey Owens' story began in March of 2010 when they met through a mutual friend. David admits that after her four-day visit to Northeast Arkansas, he was determined and committed to pursuing a relationship.
Lindsey graduated from John Brown and moved to Guatemala City in July to begin teaching at a bilingual private school.
"I pursued her for four months while she was in the states and after she moved to Guatemala (via Skype), and I proposed to her during my first trip to Guatemala in November of 2010," David said.
David moved to Guatemala in July of 2011 immediately after they were married. They both worked in the bilingual school for another year as teachers. It did not take them long to realize there was a calling ahead for them.
"In December of 2011, God began to put the desire to serve as full-time missionaries on both of our hearts during the same time," David said. "During our visit to Arkansas for Christmas that year, we told our families of our plans to quit our jobs at the end of our contracts and begin raising financial support to be full-time missionaries. We didn't have an organization or ministry we planned to partner with."
The couple spent five-and-a-half months in the states raising financial support and returned to Guatemala in December of 2012 to begin serving full-time in a village called El Rosario.
David said when they first started visiting El Rosario, they did not have a clear vision/mission outside of praying with people, which they did for almost six months. They found themselves praying with and encouraging single mothers in the village.
"The relationships we made during our first six months opened the doors to what is now the main part of our ministry, Vencedor Boys Academy," David said. "Through spending so much time with the single mothers of El Rosario, we realized the women who are being left alone are only a symptom of a much larger disease. The boys have no male role models in their lives. Their fathers have likely left their mothers. Their uncles and grandfathers have likely left their aunts and grandmothers. It is almost difficult to not expect the boys to do the same. They just simply don't have any other influences to follow. The Vencedor Boys Academy, our daily after school program, gives the boys of El Rosario the opportunity to have a positive, Godly, male role model in their lives. We teach them the Bible, the English language, and we also work with them on their homework from the public school. We still meet with single mothers on a regular basis to study the Bible as well."
The Owenses keep a busy week working Monday through Friday working one-on-one, teaching group classes, visiting the families of the boys in the academy. On Saturdays they teach boys and girls who are furthering their education beyond the sixth grade. They teach the Bible, English, and help with their homework. On Sunday they all rest.
David and Lindsey are not affiliated with any pre-existing ministry or organization. They, along with the Sisneros family, also dedicated to the mission, started their own ministry called "Vencedor Ministries." Vencedor means "conqueror" in Spanish. George Sisneros also teaches in the Vencedor Boys Academy.
They are currently in the process of raising funds to build their own Vencedor Boys Academy. They currently are renting a small 20x20 foot block home. Their building project is broken into three phases. Phase 1, recently completed, includes the purchase of a half acre, removal of large trees from the property, installation of a circulation wall around the perimeter (including a large retaining wall in the rear), leveling of the land (two levels), a large water reserve for distribution, two large 20-foot deep holes (one for rain water, one for dark water), razor wire (common in Guatemala) and a large metal door.
Phase 2, for which funds are currently are being raised, will include the physical building of the academy. Once finished, they will be able to move out of the rent house and into their own facilities. Phase 3 will include the building of their own home above the academy in an apartment style fashion.
David and Lindsey said their greatest need is funds for the academy building, and they would appreciate any donations to help with the project. Those who want more information on their progress may log on to their website, www.VencedorMinistries.com. The work is non-profit and all donations are tax-deductible. One hundred percent of the donations go directly to the Vencedor Boys Academy with no taxes or handling fees charged. The Owens' email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Throughout their ministry, David and Lindsey have stepped out in faith and followed their hearts. It has not always been easy, but their smiles convey that it is rewarding.