|| Our History
The Latin American Missionary and Bible Institute
Founded November 1999
By Susan Clarkson Keller, US LAMB Board Chair
Updated June 2011
|Part 1: How Did LAMB start?? |
It's one of those stories somebody should write a book about! One single woman, called by God to Honduras. For those who know her, Suzy McCall, is just a love...a gentle, unassuming presence, but full of Holy Spirit fire with the substance of steel. Originally from Barnwell, SC, Suzy was sent out to the mission field in Honduras from St. Philip's Church in Charleston, SC, in 1990 where she was serving as Director of Christian Education. She had been on the field eight years when Hurricane Mitch struck Honduras. Torrential rains hovered over the country for eight days. Houses on the many hillsides just slid down one on top of each other. Thousands died. All Christian workers became relief workers overnight. Schools were closed, businesses destroyed, the country in turmoil. Suzy had been working in the marginal, inner city neighborhood of Flor del Campo in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She was serving as the Spiritual director and youth advisor of a Christian Development organization. Staff there say that Suzy ignited a revival among them, as well as bringing many, many youth into the fold of the Lord's arms. These young people became Suzy's relief team for some eight months. During that time, many of these teenagers told Suzy that they felt God calling them to a life like hers, serving God in another land. Yet how could that happen? They were poor, with barely a high school education. There was no place in Honduras that trained missionaries. She knew God was raising up missionaries from the developing world, but would the Honduran church respond to the call to send instead of receive? As God would have it, these students sparked a growing flame inside of Suzy.
September of 1999, Suzy came to Charleston and met with a group of twenty or so of her supporters. She shared that God had given her a vision to begin a missionary training school in the very neighborhood she had been working.and it had a name - The Latin American Missionary and Bible Institute (LAMB). That night, this call from the Lord was confirmed and many prayers were said. The first board meeting was held on November 15, 1999. The board was composed mostly of prayer warriors, not people of great wealth or worldly influence..but people who believed that God was going to do something wonderful through Suzy.
In Honduras, the school year runs from February to November. In Feb 2000, the first class of six students began in the youth building that Saint James, Charleston had built under Suzy's direction a few years earlier. LAMB would make its home in Flor del Campo, a severely impoverished bario in Tegucigalpa, home to some 50,000 people. Suzy had already been at work there for four years and had moved there to live among the people she was serving. A three year curriculum similar to a Bible college was offered except all of the courses were clearly focused on mission. Vocational training for tent making opportunities ahead and practicums in the field were the other two arms of the program. God brought some amazing students.most desiring the go to the unreached areas of the world. God was doing it.
That next December in 2000, LAMB bought a tiny house for $13,000 and began classes there the next February, now with two classes of students. Lots of learning, passion for the Lord and dreaming for the mission fields these students would one day be called to. This first house would later be torn down in order to build God's Littlest Lambs Daycare and School on that site.
One night in a dream the Lord gave Suzy a picture in her mind of the school LAMB would build one day. She got up and wrote it down. She thought that maybe in twenty years or so, they might be able to build something. A couple of months later, an elderly American woman called her up and told her that she and her husband had heard about LAMB and wanted to visit her. After Rowland Carlson(a retired Methodist minister) and his wife, Barbara, met with Suzy and heard about the ministry, they explained that their ministry did projects for existing ministries in Latin American countries. They offered to come build something for the ministry. Both in their mid eighties, Rowland and Barbara had founded Discovery Service Projects (DSP) fifteen years before! Suzy told them that they sometimes helped poor people repair their tiny homes, but they said, "we build big things". So Suzy told them about her drawing for the school. That next December, DSP which is based out of Pennsylvania, brought some 100 volunteers over the next six weeks and built LAMB's first two-story building on the property adjacent to the small little house where classes were being held. They raised the money that was needed for the purchase of the property and the building supplies. Thus began a relationship between Suzy and these two saints of God that would serve to undergird her and strengthen her faith as the years went by. Their love for the poor and desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus in needy places of the world met a kindred spirit in Suzy.
Training missionaries is one thing in a country like Honduras. Sending them is another thing altogether. There was no sending agency in Honduras (like SAMS, YWAM, for instance). The churches did not catch the vision easily. Honduras had been on the receiving end of missions for a hundred plus years. Suzy worked alongside other mission minded Hondurans to establish a sending mechanism for the students. This was real spiritual battle. The enemy certainly did not want to unlock the tide of strong, passionate, tough Honduran missionaries into the world. Yet it was imperative that the Honduran church see mission as their call too.regardless of how limited their resources were. It is the calling of every Christian and every healthy church. Though many of the students had great zeal and desire to go to the field, after months of trying to raise support with no mechanism in place to be sent, momentum slowed. Several classes of graduates went by - no one sent. We all were expecting it would happen right away, I guess. Not to be. Most of the LAMB students are serving the Lord in one way or another today - several as pastors and some as teachers.but some, like seeds picked up by the birds, fell away from their call. Still, a few have been incredibly determined and have made it to the field, with a few still dreaming of going.
Once LAMB began, it didn't take long for the ministry to become a bright light on the hill in Flor del Campo. It quickly became known as a place where the needy are welcome - for prayer, for medicine, for food, for help. LAMB students were learning what it meant to serve in their "Jerusalem". Bible clubs, prayer vigils, children's choirs, helping with medical and construction teams from the States, microbusiness training are examples of some of the ways the love of Jesus was poured out in the community through these precious young people.
|Part 2: Babies come to LAMB! |
In 2003, over the course of about six months, four babies came to LAMB changing all kinds of things, as babies will do. Our first baby, Elsa, at 13 days old, was given in earnest to Suzy, "I can't take care of her! You take her!" Then three more quickly came - Sallie, Diana, Denis. Suzy took Elsa and Sallie and two other women in the neighborhood took Diana and Denis. In December of that year, Suzy wrote a now famous email to friends in the States expressing a new vision that she felt the Lord had given her. She explained that many poor women have to make terrible choices with their children. Neglect, abandonment, children raising children are all daily, painful problems throughout "majority world" countries like Honduras. She saw a new center where LAMB would offer help to these women with daycare (of which there was none affordable for poor families), education and services for the community that supported single mothers and families. The fact that there wasn't money in the budget had never stopped Suzy and God from getting little details like that worked out! Almost immediately we got word that some folks in Suzy's hometown of Barnwell, SC had decided that they would raise enough money to get things started. Suzy called the new ministry, "God's Littlest Lambs". God was moving LAMB into a new direction. Plans were drawn up for a new two story building to be built on the spot where the first little house was located. It would mirror the other new LAMB building. The folks from Barnwell raised the money to buy the lot behind the first small house in preparation for the new center. A double level playground/soccer court was planned for that space.
That next spring in 2004, LAMB's dear friends, Rowland and Barbara Carlson with Discovery Service Projects(DSP), made a decision. They would return to LAMB in December and build the new building. In fifteen plus years of their ministry they had never returned to a location where they had been before. Another miracle.
The tiny house beside the first building was torn down and a second two-story building was planned that would mirror the first one with a courtyard in the middle. By February 2005, the second building was finished. God's Littlest Lambs Daycare and School was a reality! At the beginning, it would be primarily a daycare, preschool and kindergarten, however, not too long after opening the doors, the staff didn't want to let those children go, so we began adding grades. In 2010 the first class of 6th graders graduated, many having started school at LAMB.
After the school opened, many, many teams from lots of places came over the next couple of years and finished the soccer court and the playground. Much of Tegucigalpa is built on the sides of mountains, especially in the poorer neighborhoods like Flor del Campo. Where LAMB, also known as "El Cordero", is located is no exception. The soccer court and playground was built by having to first chisel rock out of the side of the mountain behind the center - which was the entire lot - by hand. No bulldozers, no machinery at all could get to the lot behind. For you architects and engineers - you know what I am talking about! Today, you will find a bustling daycare and Christian school for K-6 with 240+ children.
LAMB's "Flor campus" is a busy, exciting place! Today, the administrative offices for the daycare, school, community assistance, scholarship, microfinance and the Alonzo Movement programs are located in a rented space across from the school.
In 2006, LAMB was able to purchase property for a children's home in a beautiful area known as San Buenaventura (SBV). This area is about 30 miles south of Tegucigalpa. With the help of many, many people from lots of different churches, much has been built over the last several years to the glory of God for the God's Littlest Lambs Children's Home. The children moved out to their new home in September of 2007. We now have about sixty-five precious children in our care. An incredible chapel (which is more like a cathedral) was begun in 2007 and completed in 2010. Looking out from the windows of The Church of the Good Shepherd, is a stunning view as it overlooks a deep valley. Its just one of those places you never forget. The chapel has been given by dear LAMB friends, Son and Helen Trask, in memory of Son's mother, Kitty McCoy Trask and his sister, Kitty Trask Holt.
Then for a third time, DSP (Discovery Service Projects) came back and built our new school at the children's home. The children moved into the school in April of 2009. Our dear friend and Suzy's mentor, Rowland Carlson, the founder of DSP, went to be with the Lord last year. He didn't get to see it, but his fingerprints are all over the God's Littlest Lambs Children's Home and the school has been dedicated in his memory.
Is this a story just about buildings?? Not at all. I was thinking about the things that people built in the Bible with a vision from the Lord - Noah's ark, the tabernacle Moses built, Solomon's temple. Each with very specific details in measurements, building supplies, and furnishings. These "dwellings" were earthly pictures of our heavenly city, the Great Jerusalem.and places where God dwelt with His people. In the same way, I believe, that God is dwelling with the people of Honduras - the vulnerable ones, the lonely, the hungry, the sick, the unwanted ones. He has been doing something new, something of hope and life and love through these past ten years with the start of LAMB. You can see it in their faces. Amazing how the Lord sees and knows each person in every inch of the world. He is longing to work in every place, in every time, for every people group. In each of these beautiful spaces that God's people have built at LAMB, the Lord is dwelling among the people in Tegucigalpa and bringing to each child and family LAMB touches a sense of security, belonging, identity, protection. future.
Over the past several years, the Lord has been transforming the focus of LAMB. The vision for missionary training is changing to starting much earlier….with each beautiful child that has been placed in the care of LAMB. These children are His answer to a hurting world - there in Honduras as well as the rest of the world. We pray that many of them will be called to go and that all will have a heart to give and to send missionaries all over the world. We are raising up a generation of world Christians to make an impact in Honduras and to the ends of the earth.
An often untold story about LAMB is the Honduran staff of about 60 men and women who God has raised up to live out the hope of Christ at LAMB every day. They are an amazing group of gifted individuals, committed to seeing that LAMB is truly Christ-centered and that each child knows he or she is deeply loved. They're cooks, nursery workers, administrators, bookkeepers, drivers, volunteer coordinators, educators, counselors. Their work is not just a job to them, but a ministry. They are coming to own the ministry more and more. I believe that when Suzy has gone to be with the Lord, the ministry will continue furthering God's work among the Honduran people.
What about the children? I wish I could tell you all of their stories! There are few children's homes in Honduras that will take children as infants, let alone those with birth defects or developmental problems. These are especially close to the heart of the Jesus and we have been privileged to receive many of these vulnerable little ones into our care.
Here are snapshots of just a few: Aaron Josue left at the hospital with multiple birth defects;, Dilcia, found at 3yrs old unable to walk due to malnutrition; Samuel, who was found under a bed at 2 months old covered with dirt and ants; Xiomara, who was forced to sell tortillas instead of going to school; Isaac, whose mother disciplines her children by hitting them with rocks; Lucy, whose mother is a drug addict and dropped her baby off at a shack and forgot about her; Sergio, whose mother (a gang member) was murdered on the street.
|Part 4: LAMB Director of Operations in the States! |
For several years, the Board of Directors in the States had been praying for the right person to come on staff with LAMB as its first full time employee. In July of 2008, LAMB was blessed beyond words with Margaret Merritt, as our Director of Operations. Up until this time, the members of the board were doing the day to day receiving of contributions and trying to keep up the needs of the folks on the field as well as volunteers here. You can still hear the Hallelujahs coming from the depths of LAMB's home address, 215 Hickory St. in Charleston, at her arrival! With Margaret available, communication with donors, volunteers and our LAMB family in Honduras has increased by leaps and bounds. She is bilingual, energetic, has a passion for the Lord and His work at LAMB, and is just tons of spunk and fun!
|Part 5: Fresh winds blowing |
The Alonzo Movement was begun from tragedy in the fall of 2009 – the killing of one of Flor’s bright shining stars, Alonzo. From his death has come new life breathed from the Lord upon the gang infested barrio of Flor. The Lord has raised up local Honduran volunteers to provide for the many at risk youth in Flor del Campo. There are over 170 youth, mostly boys, meeting weekly in 9 groups at LAMB after school. They are loved, ministered to through sports, music, leadership training and given the hope that is found in Jesus for a life of purpose and meaning.
The Microfinance/Microcredit Program was begun in 2010 with the help from LAMB friends, Jack and Pam Callahan. The program is based upon the Grameen Bank model. The origin of Grameen Bank can be traced back to 1976 when Professor Muhammad Yunus, a Fulbright scholar at Vanderbilt University and Professor at University of Chittagong, launched a research project to examine the possibility of designing a credit delivery system to provide banking services targeted to the rural poor. As of June 2011, there are 9 groups of 5 women with small businesses that have begun through the issuing of small loans. None of these women have missed a loan payment. The Lord is giving these women the opportunity to provide for their families and a chance to improve the quality of their lives.
The Safe House Ministry
The Lord began speaking to Suzy about the horrific crisis of human trafficking for sexual exploitation around the time that the children moved out to the San Buenaventura. She wanted to do something more to rescue children from this evil. Listen to the song that she wrote during those days at this link:
In 2008, a LAMB friend heard a Christian rock band by the name of Talon. The band was talking about human trafficking and were raising money to combat it. That friend gave the leader of the band, Jeremy Springer, Suzy’s name, and they became fast friends. Jeremy and his wife, Nedra, began a nonprofit out of Alabama called “She Dances” which is specifically called to raise awareness and funds to stop this trafficking. The enemy and his wicked forces are loathe to see any of this come to pass. You can read about She Dances at their web site, www.shedances.org. They are committed to bringing an end to the evil of the multibillion dollar sex trafficking trade in the world.and to saving lives broken by it, one by one. God has brought She Dances and LAMB together in partnership for the rescuing of girls and the start of the safehouse that they have named New Life Opportunity and Hope Home and Shelter. The days that these girls have lived in their short lives so far would absolutely break your heart. She Dances is providing the funding for this blessed effort and the LAMB staff is providing the administrative support and oversight. There has been more spiritual opposition and struggle with the implementation of this program than you can imagine. The evil forces of this world do not want these girls rescued. The house is in a secretive location and we do not allow photography of the girls for their protection.Pray for them! God is much greater and He will win the victory.
|Part 6: Fellow sojourners in the field |
It is difficult to even try to express the impact that our brothers and sisters in the States have made upon not just LAMB, but the city, Tegucigalpa, and the country Honduras. God sees the big picture and I am sure that when we come before our King and are given eyes to see as He sees, we will be completely awestruck at what He has done with the sacrifices of so many people on behalf of God's children in Honduras. How churches and individuals come to have a burden to labor alongside is a story of the wind of the Holy Spirit. We are constantly amazed and humbled at the love that people continually show forth. Every year, there are more individuals and teams who want to come help. Each year, we have between 15 and 20 teams come down to help build, love, and learn what God is doing in and through LAMB. God has put together a LAMB family of love in the States! We are so so grateful to all of them. We have churches from Tennessee, Georgia, Vermont, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Alabama, New Jersey and people from too many states to list! Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Methodists...now we just need some Baptists and Pentacostals!
|Part 7: LAMB self sustainability |
One of the goals of the LAMB leadership is to become more self sustaining. In 2008, the ministry opened its own missionary guest house, Casa Lamb, as a means to generate income…which it does! All proceeds go toward supporting the programs of LAMB. It is a beautiful house and the staff is doing a great job taking care of volunteers for LAMB as well as for other ministries. There is a great effort to make the school in Flor as self sufficient as possible. LAMB is supporting the school at about 60% at present. What a great achievement!
|Part 8: Summer missionary internships - missionary training continues |
In the summer of 2011, Suzy began a formal missionary internship program for individuals who are interested in real mission training. Young people from North America, Honduras and other countries are welcome to apply. There is formal teaching and learning as well as many opportunities to apply that learning every day at LAMB. We hope this will grow and that many people will be given a vision for their lives in the light of God’s call to all of us for His mission in the world.
LAMB is a whirlwind of Holy Spirit activity. The Lord is leading the way - our call is to follow Him. We are humbled and blessed to be called to be a part. As they say..it is history in the making!
The LAMB Institute
215 Hickory Street | Charleston, South Carolina 29407 | PH: 843.442.9306