Chile special education ministry inspires next generation of leaders
When Lorena and René Noe started the Look of Love special needs ministry eight years ago in Valparaiso, Chile, they believed it could change the lives of the physically and mentally disabled members in their community. What they didn’t expect to see was the impact the ministry had on the lives of the volunteers.
David Orellana started serving at Look of Love when the ministry began in 2011. He was 15 years old at the time, and he grew passionate about the physical health of the Look of Love participants and other people with special needs.
“We’ve known David since the age of 7,” Lorena said. “Since then, his heart and his service towards God have been growing and developing, and it’s being transformed into a pastoral heart that loves people and people with disabilities. His older brother has been an influence in this process since he has a disability. Because of the love God has given David towards his brother, now he can reach other people with similar needs.”
Orellana studied special needs physical education and now works full-time at Look of Love.
“We are proud of what God has done through him,” Lorena said. “Today, he is a man who believes that love can sustain even the weakest and raise the lonely.”
Joan Rivera began attending Valparaiso Church of the Nazarene in 2014. It was her first time joining a faith community, and she soon accepted Christ as her savior. Two months later, she started volunteering at Look of Love.
“It is impressive how Joan has been able to capture and preserve the mission that she received when she started volunteering at Look of Love,” Lorena said. “She is a marvelous person, and her work with children is really incredible.”
Rivera recently graduated from college after studying special education and has since returned to work full-time at Look of Love.
“As time passes by, I have understood the reason why I chose this career,” Rivera said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with professional development or being recognized in the secular world. The reason I have chosen this path is because I know God chose me for a ministry for which he prepared me to do.”
Vanessa Villabobos came to the Valparaiso church four years ago when her family relocated. She was previously involved with the wrong crowd, but she turned her life around after she went to church. She began participating in the local youth group, and eventually, began volunteering at Look of Love.
She recently graduated from technical school where she was trained as a para teacher. Now, Villabobos is on staff at Look of Love aiding in both physical and intellectual education alongside Orellana and Rivera.
“The study program of any given professional career can give you the academic tools you need, but a school program cannot develop character or make someone deeply love people,” Lorena said. “These three were given a powerful love for people with disabilities and their families. That is something only God can do.”