Thursday, April 30, 2009


Above: Cristino lived in a couple of different institutions before joining the Micah Project in 2000. This photo was taken in 1996.

Above: I ran into Marvin on the streets of Tegucigalpa the day before leaving Honduras after my six-month internship in 1993.

Above: Marvin and Tino graduated from Missouri Baptist University on April 28, 2009.
I’ll never forget the day in November 1993 when I left Honduras after completing a six-month internship through Wheaton College. The day before my departure, I was walking through Tegucigalpa one last time and I ran into a boy on the streets named Marvin. He was sitting on the street corner, selling little packets of peanuts. I took a picture of that moment (see above) but there wasn’t need; that encounter was burned into my heart for years afterward.

I had met Marvin months earlier in a group home where I was doing my practicum with street kids. He was an incredible kid: smart, funny and a true leader (ringleader?) among the other boys in the home. But after getting to know Marvin for a few months, his old patterns took over—patterns molded during years of violence and abuse on and off the streets—and he hopped the wall one night an headed back to the streets. So there he was, on the day before I was to head back to Wheaton College, back on the streets. Stagnating…with no hopes or dreams greater than selling a few little packages of peanuts in order to buy beans and tortillas that night. This little boy’s dirt-stained face would haunt me for the next four years. It seemed that his life was destined to be brutal, hopeless and short.

On Tuesday, April 28, 2009, that same Marvin, along with Cristino Hernandez, made the long walk down the aisle of the St. Charles Family Arena to graduate from Missouri Baptist University. No, they weren’t outside the arena, begging for food from those came for the graduation. They were among the black-robed graduates that filed onstage to receive their diplomas.

Marvin’s story did not end on that street corner in Tegucigalpa. His heavenly Father moved in many hearts so that we could start the Micah Project in 2000. And though their families could never raise them, it was through the Micah Project that they met their true family: the church; a large and loving family that would pick them up, brush them off, and set them on their feet again. Thanks to that family, they would begin to walk forward, step-by-step, with increasing confidence. And, while they sometimes stumbled during their years in the Micah House, they learned to pick themselves up and keep moving forward, rather than fleeing back to the horrible yet familiar life on the streets. As they became increasingly sure of our love for them, they became increasingly sure of His love for them. And they began to sprout wings.

On Tuesday night, as they marched down the aisle in order to receive their diplomas, they did not do it as little, scared street kids unsure of their place in society. Rather, they did it as men of God, confident in His love and in His good purposes for their lives. I wish each and every one of you could have been there, for this is your victory as well. You did not give up on them, even in those times when their own faith faltered. You are the church--their family--and your consistent prayers and support for them gave them the confidence to keep looking forward.

That night was your victory as well. A street kid graduating from college? Surely there was a rockin' celebration in heaven over that.

Keep the faith because this is just the beginning!

Su hermano en Cristo,

Michael Miller

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Two important links

Above: Marvin Morazan is studying music ministry at Instituto CanZion in San Jose, Costa Rica. He is already a gifted songwriter and musician!

Dear friends,

I wanted to share with you two important links regarding the Micah Project:

1. Some dear friends from Houston, Texas have been planning the 1st Annual Micah Project Golf Classic on May 13 in order to support the project. You can find out more about the tournament by clicking here: Please contact Jeremy Summers at or Chris Herbold at if you are interested in supporting the Micah Project by participating in the tournament!

2. Marvin Morazan, our talented young man that is studying music ministry in Costa Rica, has just produced a short music video of one of his songs. You can find it at this link: . The song is called "Madre" and he wrote it and produced it with a friend from another project (Proyecto Manuelito) named Brian Chavez. Marvin is the one with the braided hair that sings the chorus. The song is about growing up without their mothers. I've translated the words of the song here:

Chorus (Marvin):

Mom, mom here I am.
Mom, mom, here I am ready to ask for your forgiveness.

Verse 1 (Brian):

Mom, I'm 19 now and I'm not the same boy,
I don't run the streets any more creating disasters,
I go to church now and I spend my time praising Him,
writing for Him because He is the one who filled my heart with love;
and I know that in the past I have failed you, and I ask your forgiveness.
Mom, I love you, I love you so much that one day I want to be with you
at the throne of the Sovereign One.

Chorus: Mom, mom, here I am. Mom, here I am ready to ask for your forgiveness.

Verse II (Marvin):

Tell me how many times I cried, how many times I desired your hugs,
How many times I was alone and I shouted your name,
Wanting to see your face...
I cried, I cried,
even when I was little, I woke up hoping to see you the next day, mom...
with tears running down my face, I shouted
that I needed you, every night I needed a kiss from you.
I waited and waited every night,
and I prayed to God while I waited...
that He would take care of you,
and that one day you would come looking for me,
I didn't every want to be separated from you, but that was God's will
so that I could some day show you all of my love.

Chorus: Mom, mom, here I am,
Mom, here I am asking you to forgive me.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Something New is about to Happen

Above: Juan Carlos, Wilmer and Hector, all three of whom have been successfully fighting addictions, take a moment to smile with Mocha on the Micah House patio.

"Something New"

Big things are about to happen at the Micah Project. I don’t really know how to explain how I know this, but I do. Even on the missions’ field, life can often be pretty routine, and that can cause us to fall into the trap of living with our eyes half-closed. For the last several months, though, I have had a sense of expectation, of waiting for God to unleash His power on this ministry. Something new is happening.

This may seem like the worst week to write about a sense of what God is about to do in the Micah Project. For the first time in a long time, our bank accounts headed down almost to zero this week. We are truly living week-to-week, and sometimes day-to-day as a ministry. Seeing zeroes in our bank accounts can be pretty terrifying! Where are we going to get funds to feed and educate our boys? To go out and work with the street kids? To minister to our boys’ families?

But instead of feeling panicked and stressed about not having funds, we are instead feeling a tremendous burden to redouble our efforts to ask God to reveal His glory through the Micah Project. Even in the last year, He has allowed us to begin to break into spiritual territories than have previously been immersed in darkness.

In the last year and a half, for example, we have taken four young teens directly off the streets and out of a life of drugs, abuse and all kinds of degradation on the streets. It has been a spiritual battle, and often a daily one, to bring Wilmer, Marvin, Axel and Hector out of a place where the streets still had power over their souls and into a place where they themselves are beginning to desire to know their heavenly Father better. It is worth noting that these four had been in and out of a dozen institutions, never lasting for more than a few weeks or months at a time. Axel even broke his arm fighting a night watchman while trying to escape from one orphanage! But not only are they sticking it out with us, they are really beginning to flourish!

Another dominion that we have entered in the last year is in the lives of the gang members in our barrio. We have been able to gain the trust of some of the most notorious young men of our neighborhood, and they have begun to come to the Micah House weekly to receive a Bible study with our chaplain John Bell. One of them has given his life to Christ; we have placed two others in a Christian drug rehab facility to overcome their addiction to crack. So far, they have been in that facility for two months, and God is working in their hearts day-by-day.

Finally, we have made a renewed effort to be a transformative presence in the lives of our boys’ families this year. This mostly means single moms, women who are the product of generations of poverty and familial disintegration. One of our boy’s moms was living under a bridge until last month when we helped her rent a house. Another mom is a victim of domestic violence; a third struggles with alcoholism and addiction herself, just as her sons do. Recently, one of our missionaries, Kamia Paul, has formed a discipleship group with our moms. Kamia encourages them to seek out their heavenly Father and to begin to live in a way that is pleasing to Him. She is also helping them to learn sewing skills as a way to be able to support their impoverished families. Currently, six of our boys’ moms are involved in the group. We believe that generations of bondage can be broken if these women give their lives to Him!

I think this feeling that I have that something big is about to happen is a result of all of these new territories, ones steeped in brokenness and depravity, that have been opened to us in the past year. Though we don’t know where we are going to get the funds to operate next week, or the one after that, we are hearing our Father say to us “continue to be faithful to Me day-by-day, continue to testify to my good news in these dark and broken places, and I will show My Glory in their lives.”

We are taking a big step in that direction tomorrow by taking our young men on a spiritual retreat at a center about three hours north of Tegucigalpa. John Bell has been planning the retreat for several months, and last month, he found a supporter that was willing to underwrite the retreat. The theme of the retreat is “God our Father.” It sounds simple, but when you realize that none of our young men, not one, have a good relationship with their earthly fathers (and many do not know them at all), it is vitally important that they begin to understand what it means that they have a heavenly Father that has adopted them as sons.

What I ask of you today is that you pray. Pray that God would use this retreat to help our boys understand what it means to be loved by their Heavenly Father. Pray that He would continue to break chains that are left over from abuse, abandonment, violence and addiction in their young lives. Pray that He would unify our hearts to a single purpose, so that the Micah Project would continue to be a blazing light in dark places and dark lives. Pray that this retreat would convict each one of our boys and staff to live his or her life completely sold out to God, living each day as if it were our last on this earth. Pray for renewed energy and courage for our missionary staff, which often looks darkness and evil in the face on a daily basis.

I encourage you to go to the biography pages on our website ( and pray for our young men by name during our retreat from Sunday through Tuesday. While you are praying for those that will be at the retreat (Edwin, Jose, Jeferson, Pedro, Fredy, Erick, Juan Carlos, Maycol, Cristofer, Marvincito, Wilmer, Hector, Olvin, Axel and Pedrito) also pray for our college guys who are studying in other places and can’t come to the retreat. Pray for Oscar Amaya, who is about to travel to a predominantly Muslim country as a missionary for three months. Especially pray for Marvin Soto and Tino Hernandez, who are graduating from Missouri Baptist University on April 28! This is an amazing step for these ex-street boys who are now amazing and confident young men! Pray that God will guide them in their post-college lives. Finally, pray for Darwin, Arle and Jerson, who have left the Micah Project in the last year, that they would re-discover their identity as God’s sons.

I don’t fully understand this sense of anticipation that I have been feeling. But until God chooses to reveal how He will work in our ministry in this time, I do know that your prayers are vital to the victory that we want to see in all these lives. If you have a moment this week, write us a note at to let us to know that you are praying for us and if you are praying for any of our young men specifically. That would be a great encouragement to them!

We will continue to let you know as God reveals his mighty works here in Honduras!

Muchas gracias,

Michael Miller

P.S. If you would like to continue to support the Micah Project financially, you can send your tax exempt donation to our new mailing address in Houston: Micah Project, Inc.; P.O. Box 10098; Houston, TX 77206. We promise to do our best to use your donation for His glory!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Coming Home

Above: Marvincito is flanked by Axel and Maycol, just days after rejoining the Micah House after his last departure.

Above: Marvincito using yellow glue in July 2007, before joining the Micah Project.

To view this blog in printable Microsoft Word form, click on
Coming Home

After finally being able to see the movie Slumdog Millionaire this weekend, the beautifully rendered rags-to-riches tale about Indian street kids, I began to compare the plight of the Honduran street kids with those in the movie. One aspect of street life that the movie portrayed very well was the sense of constant movement in the lives of the street kids. After losing their mom, little Jamal and Salim were never in one place for too long, hopping trains from town to town and fleeing to a new place whenever things got too hot for them, and sleeping wherever they could find a dry place. That sense of mobility, of constant action and change, comes to define the life of a street kid; in fact, it can be almost as addicting as the drugs themselves.

Many of the Micah boys that come to us from the streets have lived life on the move. Even when they are taken into institutions such as orphanages or state-run shelters, they usually escape back to the streets in a matter of weeks or months. They get used to the frenetic nature of street life; the chaos seems to run through their veins. They are the ones that decide for themselves where they will go, how they will get there, and how long they will stay; they become accustomed to being the masters of their own limited lives.

Why is it then, when boys come off the streets and into the Micah Project, they tend to stick with us for the long haul? They can list a dozen different organizations that could only keep them off the streets for a brief period, but when they come into Micah they seem to come to stay. We are continually amazed, as a matter of fact, at how a drug-addicted street boy can so quickly become a part of our Micah family. When little Hector came off the street in November, within a couple of weeks it was as if he had always been with us.

It may surprise you that, as the founding director of the Micah Project, I don’t know why this is. Yes, my staff works passionately to set up an environment that promotes success. Yes, they are surrounded by people at Micah that love them, and do so sacrificially. But, I think it’s even more than that: something that keeps them in our home when the odds of them staying are extremely slim.

Little Marvin (Marvincito, in Spanish) might be our hardest and most heart-wrenching example of how chaos reigns in the life of a street kid. He is an example of one that did NOT have a smooth transition into the Micah House when he joined us in the summer of 2007. Going cold turkey off yellow glue threw his system for a loop, and he responded by frequently—daily, really—going into a terrifying rage. We did the best we could to keep him occupied and moving, but inevitably, something would cause him to explode. In one illustrative moment during his first week with us, he kicked his new bike in a fit of anger, threw himself to the ground and began screaming with a guttural roar.

“This one is beyond our help”, I thought to myself often during those first trying weeks. But little-by-little, the hardened look of distrust and anger began to melt away from his face, even if just for a few distracted moments at a time. And, though “escaping” from the Micah House is as easy as opening the front door and walking away, he stuck it out with us (it helped that he got hit by a car his first month with us and was in a full-length leg cast for several months after that!).

Through an almost imperceptible process, the angry, explosive little street kid began to show a loving, funny, and curious side of himself that inspired us to dream about what this little boy could come to be. We realized that, when he wasn’t working so hard to scrunch up his forehead into a scowl, he had a smile that could light up any room. We also learned that when he began to dedicate the same ingenuity to his studies that he had dedicated to running the streets, he had enormous potential!

2008 was a good year for Marvincito. He tested into the third grade, and was able to complete third and fourth in our home-schooling program. He still had outbursts of anger, but more and more he was able to take himself out of a situation, to calm down and refocus. The more we grew to know and understand his personality, the more we grew to love him! We had great hope that he would leave the streets behind him forever. As 2008 drew to a close, however, some external or internal trigger, or a combination of both, caused his addiction to rear its ugly head once again.

In the first three months of 2009, Marvincito has returned to the streets three times. The first two times, he came back to the Micah House within 24 hours of leaving. This last time, just a couple of weeks ago, he stayed out for several days. During that period, we thought that we might have lost him forever.

It began on a Saturday night, and we were all headed six blocks down the hill to our Leadership House (where our older boys live) to have dinner with some friends that were visiting from Portland. Marvincito, Hector and Wilmer said that they were going to get a head start and left the Micah House together. By the time the rest of us got to the Leadership House, we quickly realized that they had not arrived. They had passed right by the Leadership House, kept running all the way through the outdoor market, and up to the national stadium, where they bought their glue and immediately began huffing.

At first we couldn’t believe that they were gone--they had all been doing so well! The day before, on a field trip, they spent the entire ride back laughing and singing and playing. Why would they choose the chaos of street life over their family at the Micah House? What trigger fired in their brains to drive them back to the yellow glue?

Our first thought was to try to get to them before they got too high. We divided into teams (drafting our Portland friends into nighttime street work) and headed out to the market district. In the daytime, the outdoor market place is a frenzy of noise and color and life as thousands of people descend on the stalls to make their daily purchases. The market is a different and desolate place at night. Rats scurry through the trash left from the days sales; the only other living beings around are a few stray dogs and the homeless men, women and children that curl up in the empty market stalls to sleep. We met up with some of the street kids that know our ministry, but they said they hadn’t seen our three little lost boys. A couple of them volunteered to take us to some of the other street kid hang-outs around the city, and off we went.

For the next three hours, we walked through the dark streets of Tegucigalpa. Our street kid guides led us into the wealthy part of town, to a busy intersection where the kids often beg. As we chugged along on foot, passing fancy cars and fancier hotels, I kept thinking to myself, “if I owned any of those nice things, I would give them up in a second if it meant getting these three boys back.” As we futilely searched all of the regular street kid haunts, I kept thinking to myself, “Don’t they know that they’re not street kids anymore? They’re Micah boys! They’re our boys.”

Two things about that night felt especially oppressive. One was by the stadium, when we came face-to-face with one of the main drug dealers that sells the yellow glue to the street kids. I had not felt that we were in danger at any point that night, but as we descended the steps into the little squatter community by the stadium, made up mostly of addicts, I felt a deep sense of foreboding. We were quickly surrounded by a bunch of stoned men and we asked them if they had seen the dealer. They said no, but when we made no signs of moving along, she came out of her little shack. “Hey Michael, how are you Michael, it’s been so long Michael!!!” full of honey and sweetness, although she knew exactly why we were there. When we discovered that she didn’t have the three boys, we moved along. She kept going with her sweet act, but we understood that it was her way of mocking us.

The second sense of oppression came by way of my cell phone. We had gotten Wilmer an inexpensive cell phone for his birthday last year and that night I kept dialing his number, to no avail. My phone chose at that moment to get itself confused, though, and the whole rest of the evening, whenever someone called me, my phone registered the incoming call as “Wilmer”. Throughout that night, every time my phone rang, my heart immediately started racing, thinking that it was Wilmer. Though my phone always said it was him, it never was. By the way, not for nothing, but my phone did this until Wilmer came back to the Micah House, and then it stopped. I’m not one to see the devil behind every tree, but this certainly seemed to be his way of rubbing it in that he was in the process of reclaiming these three precious lives!

When we called off the search that night after walking the city for three hours, it was a sad and weary group that went back to the Micah House. The next morning, though, Wilmer finally turned his phone on. “Wilmer, where are you?” I asked. “Huh?” was his drug-hazed reply. We went on like that for several minutes. I encouraged him to come back to the house, told him that I wouldn’t go to church so that I could wait for him.

I asked him to pass the phone to Marvincito who was, if anything, even higher than Wilmer. Over and over, I told him “Marvin, you’re not a street kid anymore. Come home. We love you.” No real answer. Does the truth filter into the heart of a drug-fogged fourteen year old? My prayer was that it would.

Wilmer came back to the Micah House later that day, still high and much in need of a long nap. Marvincito and Hector were nowhere to be seen. A couple of street kids came by the house later that day full of bad stories about Marvin. That he had been using crack. That he and another street kid had assaulted a lady and stole her purse. In other words, that he had gone back over to the dark side. How does that happen so quickly, when less than 48 hours before, he was a smiling, happy-go-lucky little boy that we had come to love so much?

The truth was, though, that we had learned to love Marvincito for whom he was, dark side and all. His more frequent reversions to street life only made it that much more important to us to get him back on the path to healing. There is a deep and abiding sense that he is a part of our family now, and even if he runs from that, it is not any less true. And maybe that is what makes us different. Maybe the guys end up sticking it out with us because we are willing to keep loving them through the ups and downs of leaving the streets behind them. Maybe, just maybe somewhere deep down inside his soul, little Marvin knew that he was loved.

A couple of days went by, and our friends from Portland were out in the market to do a little more street ministry before heading back to Portland at the end of the week. There was Marvincito, hanging out with the other street kids, taking puffs on his yellow glue. Brian Wiggs, who will be joining the Micah Project long term in July (see February 11 blog), knelt down beside him to talk to him. After awhile, Marvin got on Brian’s shoulders and got a piggy-back ride all the way back to the Micah House.

After depositing himself in the armchair in my office, all I could do for a few minutes was sit there in silence. He had gotten into a scuffle at one point and had a blackened eye to prove it. He was gaunt and high and washed out and was already looking quite a bit like a street kid again. I had a mix of emotions and I didn’t know exactly how to put them into words: enormous relief that he was back, anger and sadness that he had left in the first place, and of course, a real and profound fatherly love. I tried to communicate some of that to him before sending him to his room to sleep off the glue.

A couple days later, a little rag-tag group of older street kids approached the door to the Micah House. They had convinced little Hector to come back, and they decided to escort him here just to make sure. We expressed our appreciation to them amidst our sadness: somehow, they knew that little Hector had a safe place to go, a place where he was loved, even if they had no such place themselves. In a matter of hours, Hector was playing soccer with the other Micah guys and laughing as if nothing had happened.

This past week has been an especially good week for Marvincito. He has seemed happier and more at peace than usual. If there is a danger in that, though, it is that it lulls us into thinking that maybe the battle is finally over. Maybe he has put street life and addiction behind him forever. Maybe he really does realize how much we love him and will continue to take positive steps forward.

It’s just not that black and white though. Addiction, abandonment, life on the streets—all these things have physical and emotional consequences--but they also have spiritual consequences as well. There is bondage and oppression; the evil one truly does believe that the streets are his territory. He’s not going to give up these lives without a fight.

But we fight with a Greater Power on our side. To get back to my original question: why do the boys stick it out with us for the long haul? Why are (big) Marvin and Tino getting ready to graduate from college this month? How is it that Oscar is now a missionary with YWAM? Why is Danilo studying ministry in Costa Rica? The answer is, if this is primarily a spiritual battle, your prayers have had a large role to play in their success. What I didn’t tell you about the week that the three guys left for the streets is that our Portland friends immediately called their friends and ignited a prayer chain of hundreds of people. I am absolutely convinced that those prayers are the reason that Marvincito, Wilmer and Hector are back with us today.

Millions of people went to see Slumdog Millionaire in the last few months. In the fairy-tale ending of that movie, the street kid gets the girl, gets the money, and even gets a splashy Bollywood celebratory dance at the end of the film. Well, millions of people may not read about our ex-street boys, but that is not important. If hundreds of you, or dozens, or even two or three gather together to pray for little Marvin and Hector and Wilmer, I know that our Heavenly Father will answer those prayers and will bring victory into these young lives. And that will bring about a great big celebratory dance in heaven, if not on earth!

It has been an amazing journey with these boys, and there is much road left to travel. Even in these scary times, when there seems to be so much upheaval in the world, and organizations such as Micah are feeling the pinch of the economic downturn, we know one thing: God is in control. We ask for your prayers that He would continue to act on behalf of these young boys and show His mighty hand through them!

Muchas gracias,

Michael Miller