1-YEAR LATER

An Interview with Jose Prem

Hi everyone, I’m Mia, the communications and digital media consultant here at CCI. I’m the one who sends out our monthly emails, keeps our social media updated with photos of cute kids (psst – if you haven’t yet, make sure to like us on Facebook!), and helps write these blogs!
Recently, I was able to sit down with Jose Prem. This May marks his 1-year anniversary as Executive Director of CCI. I thought it fitting to see how he’s finding his role so far, and to see if he’d give me a sneak peek into where he’s wanting to take the organization in the coming years.

Thanks, Jose for taking the time to sit down with me – I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to this past year!

Thank you, Mia. It’s always a joy to share what’s been happening lately at CCI.

So, why don’t we go ahead? Tell us how you became involved in children’s ministry?
For the past decade I’ve worked in Guatemala implementing and overseeing child development programs. I always wanted to be able to find work that combined my university degree in management with my desire to work in ministry. I am extremely blessed to be working in a place that makes an eternal impact in the lives of children around the world while I can use my previous business experience.
 
How were you called to CCI? I understand you and your family had to relocate for the job – that must have been a big decision.
Yes, one year ago I was living in Ontario with my wife and daughter. A pastor that I knew told me there was an opportunity to serve children and churches in other countries, through the ministry of CCI. The purpose, mission and values of CCI are Christ-centered, and after going through all the phases of the selection process, I moved to BC. I wanted to be able to help vulnerable children and facilitate programs and resources to local churches ministering in challenging contexts. The scope of my role is much larger now – from overseeing just 1 country, now it’s 9 countries, and the work is even more rewarding. I feel blessed to be part of what God is doing around the world. Supporting children has always been dear to my heart and being able to see the work our partners are doing on the ground reaffirmed this.
You’ve been able to meet with some of our partners first-hand – can you tell me a bit more about that?

Yes, being a part of an organization that spans nine different countries, it takes a bit to meet with everyone. So far, skyping with our partners has been our main way of communication, but I was able to visit our partners in Haiti and Mexico this past February in person. Both trips presented their own challenges and were rewarding in different ways.

Tell me about that? What were some things that stood out to you in Haiti?

Well, I would say three things from the trip that really struck me.

The first was the spiritual battles. In Haiti it is not uncommon to see along the roads, voodoo centres and hear their drums being played in their ceremonies. There is very real tension working there. You know the church is fighting a significant spiritual war when it focuses on investing in the lives of children. If we reach them with the Gospel at a young age, they have the rest of their lives to serve our Lord and influence other people. The devil doesn’t like us doing this, so he will do everything possible to not make this happen.

Another thing that struck me about Haiti was poverty. Unless you visit those rural communities in Haiti, it is very difficult to explain the extreme need that people face daily. While we are blessed to live in a place that is rich in economic resources, we can’t imagine the abject poverty that exists there. This was especially present where we stayed, as people were suffering from a drought that had lasted more than 9 months. People, crops and animals were dying daily.

The passion of the local church was another thing that really stood out to me. In the midst of limitations, the local churches are reaching out to their communities, boldly preaching the Gospel. They are also bringing social impact by founding and supporting schools that educate and feed the children. To see the fire of faithful men and women of God is just really humbling.

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That sounds incredible and very rewarding to see the impact CCI is having on the ground. Were you also able to see this in Mexico?
Yes. I went to Mexico to see how our new program was doing, and to meet with our partners there. I was blown away by the growth of the church in Mexico. I 

always knew that Mexico was a difficult place to share the Gospel, but in recent years, the church has had an explosion of growth, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Almost all the churches I visited were near 1000 members each, and in every service that I preached, people came to the Lord. The Church is really strong and growing in Mexico.

This was especially encouraging to me because the need for healing in Mexico is also great. I was struck by the level of violence in the country and that people can’t escape this reality due to many social, economic and political factors. There is fear in the streets, and I was able to hear many stories of people who have been affected by the violence. But I was also able to see the impact of local leadership. In the midst of challenging realities, God has lifted up very capable and committed leaders that are carrying out His work. I was humbled by meeting the local leaders that are reaching out to their cities in boldness and confidence. They are examples to be followed because they are making an eternal difference in the lives of many.
 
And what was it like meeting the sponsor children? Anything that stood out for you there?
I think one of the things that I saw in both of these countries was how much the children love getting some kind of communication from their sponsors. One of the most precious treasures children keep at home is the letters they receive from their loving sponsors. They feel appreciated and loved by someone who lives far away. Sometimes within their own families, they don’t receive the appreciation and encouragement they obtain in their sponsors letters. This was very touching because it showed me how sometimes the smallest gestures mean the world to others.
That was going to be my next question. Sometimes people may think – how much of a difference does $40 a month actually make? Any thoughts on that?
When you see the realities in the countries where we work, any amount makes a significant impact. We take many things for granted, but in many places, they don’t have access to clean water, and may even eat only once a day, so sponsorship often means saving a child’s life.

Thanks Jose. I just have a few more questions. It’s been a year; you’re getting a little more settled in your role. Any thoughts for what might lie ahead for CCI?
My desire is to see that the impact we are having in the 3 continents where we work may grow, and that CCI will expand to other parts of the globe where we are not yet serving now.

Any hints as to where that expansion might be?
Well, I do have a heart for the people of Guatemala. I was able to return there recently and seeing again the need in that country encouraged me to reach out to some leaders of Christian schools that could potentially partner with CCI. My desire is that in the immediate future, we can start partnering with some of them to reach many children living in poverty.

Tell me more about that. What makes the needs in Guatemala different to, say, Haiti or Mexico?
Well, I think for one thing, Guatemala is a country with one of the highest rates of malnutrition among children in Latin America. 1 out of 2 children are malnourished, and in rural areas, this rate can go up to 8 out of 10. The levels of people living in extreme poverty are also significant. That goes hand-in-hand with low education levels and high rates of illiteracy. In the countryside, the illiteracy rate is as high as 76%. These realities present many challenges, but also, they become opportunities in which CCI can contribute to bringing hope. These are very difficult conditions that people live in, and it is my desire to help the most vulnerable ones: the children. We can provide them with food, education and the Gospel. We can be part of God’s desire to bring them a better future.
That definitely does sound like something CCI can help with. Now, one last thing. How have you felt God with you in the last year?
I feel God most when I meditate on His word. These words from our Saviour encourage me to keep on doing the best I can every day:  
Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;  naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’… ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ – Matthew 25:34-36,40
 
Some verses that come to life, especially in the presence of little ones are:
Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” – Luke 18:16
 
I get a better understanding of why Jesus said that now after having visited Haiti and Mexico – because I was able to see simplicity, gratitude, dependence and love in the lives of the children.

And lastly, what would you like prayer for?
Our ministry is sustained by prayer, and therefore, I ask for your spiritual support for our programs around the world, the partnership possibilities in Guatemala, the safety of the children we sponsor and that the local church leaders around the world may be strong and faithful.
 
Well, thank you very much for your time Jose, and for sharing with us a bit more about what CCI means for you.
You’re welcome Mia! Always a pleasure.

Comments

  1. DStaughton - May 24, 2019

    Keep up the good work, Jose! May God continue to lead and guide you, and bless you in all that you do!

  2. DStaughton - May 27, 2019

    Very encouraging! God bless you, Jose, as you continue in this very important work of reaching children for the Kingdom. We have been sponsoring boys in Haiti for close to 20 years so our prayers are focussed on that country. Loved hearing your comments regarding Haiti and your comment about the personal letters being so valued motivates us to write more. Thank you for using your gifting in this way.

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