The Moses Project, an outreach to at-risk children in Quito, Ecuador, never fails to amaze and inspire me with selfless approach to serving the poor. I’m especially in awe of project director Maria Belen Hinojosa, whose life is a testament to God’s promise to restore the brokenhearted.
“This project is not only a blessing for the children, but the entire church,” she said during a recent Cross International staff visit. “And it’s been a blessing in my life. It may sound selfish, but I feel like God created the project for me.”
When she was 19, a man who Maria described as “very special to her heart” passed away. She never married nor had children and for years, she struggled with the weight of these unfulfilled desires. Professionally, she longed to quit her job and dedicate her life to serving her congregation at Christian Church of the Word, which hosts the Moses Project. When a secretarial position became available, she happily accepted, but she still felt called to do more. Unsure what course to take, she prayed about it. As if in answer to that prayer, pastor Fabian Bassante of Christian Church of the Word decided to start a breakfast feeding program for children in the church’s neighborhood – and Maria immediately knew it was her calling.
She named the program Proyecto Moises/The Moses Project because Moses was a rescued child and she wanted to rescue Quito’s children. Today, Maria loves the 50 children who attend the project as if they were her own. Its program to supplement school services and provide healthy meals was exactly what the poor community’s parents needed.
Thanks to her tireless efforts, the project’s outreaches extend far beyond the walls of the Christian Church of the Word. Maria collects donated items for needy families; she raises money for school uniforms and supplies; she conducts home visits to see the children’s family dynamics and learn how she can minister to them; she counsels them in the way of the Lord.
Teenagers who were years behind in school celebrate finally learning how to multiply; orphans find community with other children; alcoholic parents get sober and restore relationships with their children—all under Maria’s guidance and support. Pastor Fabian calls her a heroine but Maria is quick to divert credit to God, hard work and prayer.
“I’m always aware of what’s going on in their lives. I’m always praying for them. Many days, the Lord will place one particular child on my heart to pray for—so I do it. I usually find out there was something going on with that child at that time.”
Maria says she’s motivated by the love of God and knowing she’s exactly where He wants her to be. She also finds inspiration from the words of Isaiah 54:
“Sing, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,”
says the Lord.”
“About 10 years ago, I was very sad about some things in my life. I started reading the Bible and the Lord led me to this passage,” she said. “I felt like God was telling me, ‘These are your children. And they will all be taught by me and raised in my ways!’”
What an awesome testament to God’s faithfulness! We may not always understand His ways, but we can rest assured that He knows the desires of our hearts and will meet all our needs.
– Fayola S.