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United Methodist answers call to 'rescue the multitudes'

12/10/2003 News media contact: Kathy Gilbert · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

Photographs and a UMTV segment are available with this story.

A UMNS Feature By Kathy L. Gilbert*

One night, Dave Bibeau was sitting at home, watching the 10 p.m. news, feeling completely frustrated with his life.

"I just decided to pray and give it all up to God," he recalls.

It was one of those "be careful of what you ask for" moments because the next thing he saw on television was an advertisement for an orphanage across the border in Mexico that needed help.

"It struck my heart, so I decided to call."

Ever since that night more than 18 months ago, Bibeau has been going across the border from his home in Albuquerque, N.M., to that orphanage, putting more than 60,000 miles on his vehicle.

Bibeau says it was because a United Methodist church reached out to him in his time of need - when he was alone with three young sons - that he feels called to reach out to the children in Juarez, Mexico.

He started looking for someplace where he felt welcome. He found that place at Central United Methodist Church in Albuquerque.

"They welcomed me as a single dad with no faith," he says. "I wanted the kids to have a little bit of religious upbringing, but mostly I wanted to have a couple of hours off. The church offered free daycare and free coffee, and they didn't tell me where to sit."

He credits Central United Methodist Church for much of the support he has received in his mission.

"I can hardly walk down the hallways at Central United Methodist Church without someone opening their wallets and just giving me cash for the kids," he says.

"Dave is a person of growing, blossoming faith," says the Rev. Charles Crutchfield, pastor at Central. "He doesn't know something can't be done, so he is doing it."

Crutchfield applauds Bibeau for just going out on his own and working for the children. "He really has a heart for it. He's a neat guy."

Once his heart was stirred on that distant night, Bibeau called the orphanage to find out what it needed. He was told 12 sheets of plywood and two aluminum-framed windows.

When he called, he remembers telling the person on the other end of the phone, "I will bring these things to you, but folks, there better be an orphanage there."

What he found was a campfire in the middle of an undeveloped tract of land and people with a dream and a need.

His initial offering became the first structure for Rescatando a Multitudes (Rescuing the Multitudes). Since that time, he has helped build enough rooms to house more than 30 children, ranging in age from 2 to 12. Future plans include adding enough space to accommodate up to 60 children.

Raul Acosta, who volunteers with Bibeau, says the children know that without the orphanage they wouldn't have a warm bed or food to eat.

He knows firsthand how hard life can be for the children; he was born and raised in Juarez. He now works at Bibeau's radio shop.

"They would be out in the streets begging, selling candy, cleaning (car) windows at bridges," he says of the children. "Dave is a great guy. He's putting his heart into this."

Bibeau says the children at Rescatando a Multitudes are just like other kids, despite being desperately poor.

"They are like your kids, your neighbor's kids. They are grateful for any help they get."

A prayer group at Central United Methodist has "adopted" the children and will be supplying them with Christmas gifts. Bibeau gives the class members pictures of the children along with their sizes and personal "wish list."

Laughing, he says the wish list is typical of children. One child asked for a new blouse in "every color." Many of the children wished everyone could be happy and get a present.

"This one little boy said, 'It would be very nice if someone gave me a $20 bill.'"

The orphanage has more girls than boys, and all the kids attend public schools.

Mary, an 11-year-old girl in the orphanage, proved to the children that being an orphan doesn't mean one can't excel. She recently won top student honors at her school and will go on to other competitions, Bibeau says with pride.

"The kids really focus on education."

Bibeau is modest about his contributions and says he feels blessed by the children.

"When I am having a bad day, I can go across the border to the orphanage and see people who are really having a bad day."
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*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer in Nashville, Tenn.

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