In January of 2013, Lynn Isenhower went to Guatemala for the first time with a mission team from Christ the King Church in Charlotte where her brother, Craig is the pastor. Her other brother Mark was also on the team. That team spent a couple days working at an orphanage in Guatemala City and then 3 days at a church in Chimaltenango. The pastor in Chimaltenango, Erika Chajon, had begun her ministry as a house parent at that orphanage in Guatemala City where Craig had first met her.
By 2013 Pastor Erika had been ministering for several years to the impoverished community around her home, offering free daycare and meals to children who were home all day alone or roaming the streets looking for food. She was also trying to provide them with some education. She had no salary. Her church members were beyond poor. Faith kept them going. Daycare was open when she had money to feed the kids. On the team’s last evening in Chimal, Pastor Erika took them to visit the homes of several of the children she served. The last stop just after dark was at yet another tin shack with a dirt floor. After a snarling dog was secured and a heavy padlock and chain were removed, the tin door swung open revealing 3 small, shy children. The girls, twins Alejandra and Paola, age 9, and their brother Carlos, age 7, were home alone. Their mom worked from 7am to 9pm daily cooking and cleaning houses in the city, but she didn’t earn enough to send her children to school or daycare, and the family ate only once a day if she was able to bring home some scraps from her employer’s table. This was the situation of all the children Erika was trying to provide with a safe space, love, food, and an education. Every day she prayed for the resources to continue and expand this ministry. Thinking they were answering God’s call, several team members began covering the daycare expenses of these three and others. They were soon to learn this wasn’t the actual call.
In January of 2014, several members of that team returned with another CTK team. Lynn was literally overrun by the twins and Carlos who excitedly introduced her to their 7-year-old brother, Jonathan. Wait, how could they have a brother that old that quickly, she questioned?! Paola explained, “Mom couldn’t afford to keep us all, so she had sent him away to live with relatives. Since you are sponsoring us, now he can live with us again. Can he come to school too?” Wow, talk about being hit by a Mack truck! To keep Pastor Erika’s now daycare through10th grade school operation going and growing, well God said, this is the big picture. You guys need to recruit more partners and obtain more regular funding. Several team members returned home and began telling the story to anyone who would listen and before long had found donors to cover 50 children for the upcoming school year.
In November of 2014, Matthew 2540 was incorporated in SC. In 2015, Matthew 2540 became a 501c3 and a mission team ran a medical clinic for the children. The goal was to determine if the children had health issues that were impeding their learning; things like not being able to see their books clearly or hear the teacher or having so many cavities they were in constant pain. In 2016, Pastor Erika received NGO status in Guatemala for La Promesa which means the promise. In 2018, Matthew 2540 sponsored its first mission trip aiming to acquaint people with the ministry at La Promesa and assist them where we could. 21 people from a variety of denominations all across the U.S. were part of that team.
Today, Matthew 2540 supports La Promesa with an annual budget of $70,000. Sponsoring a child can be done for $85 a month. We are also raising money to build a permanent facility on land we purchased late in 2022. Pastor Erika has an annual student population ranging from 70 to 90, including babies in daycare. The bulk of our support comes from small individual donations and fundraisers.
The truest measure of poverty is when you have no options to improve your situation. The goal of Matthew 2540 is to change this by Empowering Children to Escape Poverty through Education.