October 17, 2023

John Hernandez Shows Students How a Day in the Mission Field Can Change Lives

John Hernandez speaking at Global Emphasis Week

PBA News

Palm Beach Atlantic (PBA) University has a heart for missions, much of which is shown through CMGlobal, a campus ministry aimed at encouraging students to act out of an overflow of God’s heart and purposes for peoples of all nations. It offers students the opportunity to attend service abroad trips, giving them a chance to share God’s love, broaden their perspectives and strengthen their faith. CMGlobal celebrated Global Emphasis Week October 9-13, hosting a movie night, a day of prayer, a Global Night of Worship and more. Chapel services were also focused around Global Emphasis Week, and the keynote speaker, John Hernandez, encouraged students to get involved in missions.

Hernandez and his wife, Maritza, are the co-founders and directors of Children’s Impact Network (CIN), an organization dedicated to reaching impoverished and abused children through the love and message of Jesus Christ. PBA has partnered with Hernandez for over 20 years by sending students on mission trips to serve in CIN’s orphanages in Bolivia, Honduras, and Chile.  

Two years ago, Lu Desouza, a student at PBA studying Journalism, partnered with John Hernandez and CIN on her first mission trip to Honduras. Immediately, Desouza noticed how people who had little in life seemed to have a large amount of faith in God. 

 “I know we were sharing God’s word with them, but sometimes it felt like they were ministering to us,” Desouza said.  

In chapel, John Hernandez recalled the story of a five-year-old boy he met at CIN’s orphanage in Bolivia who had been abandoned after his parents died in a car accident. The boy did not speak Spanish, use utensils, or even know how to tie his shoes. Doing their best at the orphanage to make him comfortable, Hernandez tied the boy’s shoes, and the boy pointed at him and said, “Papa.”  

This is not uncommon, as many of the children in the three countries’ orphanages lovingly refer to him and his wife as Papa John and Mama Maritza.  

Hernandez described this particular encounter as one that stirred up many emotions because a boy who had barely known him for five hours already felt like he was with family. “That day, I realized he didn’t have to worry about where his next meal was coming from…where he would sleep at night…his future. That day, his life was changed,” he said.  

He told another story about the same boy experiencing his first Christmas. The boy looked at the presents piled high and asked one of CIN’s staff if one had his name on it. The staff sat him down and gathered everyone to watch the boy open his first Christmas gift.  

“It didn’t matter what was inside that box. It could have been a box full of rocks. What mattered to him was that his name was on it. What mattered to him was that at that moment more than ever, he felt like he belonged,” said Hernandez. “Giving a gift to people who desperately need one is what missions are all about,” he explained.  

In his own life, Hernandez was a beneficiary of missions – his father came to know Christ in the 1950s because of a man who traveled to Cuba and preached for three nights in a tiny town plaza. The following year, Hernandez’s father was preaching in the plaza, which led to him planting churches throughout the country.  

Years later, after working in the inner-city communities of Philadelphia and Miami, Hernandez founded CIN. While he was working in Miami, he was approached by a woman who wanted him to teach people in Bolivia to start their own outreach programs. On his trip to Bolivia, a young boy who was dirty and all alone came up to him. 

“As I looked at him, I asked, ‘How is this possible? How is he all alone with absolutely no one who cares for him?” said Hernandez.   

This experience spurred him and his wife, who now have over 35 years of working in ministry, to start orphanages throughout South America.  

Hernandez encouraged students to give people a life-changing day by going on mission trips. He pleaded with students to pray for an opportunity to take a mission trip like they would pray for a week-long vacation. He challenged students to sign up for a trip with CM Global, including one he himself is partnering with to Bolivia. 

Hernandez described missions as the journey of a lifetime that allows for direct communion with God. He advocated for students to join the mission field not only to better themselves, but also the lives of others.  

 “You can be that person who is able to place a gift on someone’s lap. Then they can say, ‘God cares about me,’” said Hernandez. 

To learn more about CMGlobal, click here. 

CMGlobal Team in the DeSantis Family Chapel 

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