Corbey Dukes was fighting a tough call from God. Saying yes to the call would mean moving his family from the home they love, and taking a new position as field director for Kids Alive International in Guatemala. Just a few weeks before attending the Summit in 2008, he was prepared to say no to that call. Little did he know how God would speak to him at that Summit, and challenge him in a different direction, changing not only his life and his family’s lives, but also the lives of hundreds of children in Guatemala.
The Summit is a turning point for your calling
“I remember attending the 2008 conference just a few of weeks after being called by God to apply to be field director of Kids Alive Guatemala,” says Corbey, then mission’s pastor at his church in South Carolina. “I was there when the previous director announced her resignation. I wasn’t expecting it, but God clearly told me I was next. I knew enough about Guatemala to know that it was not the coast of South Carolina I loved.
“The call was so clear, I never felt doubt… I just did not want to go.”
The Summit became pivotal in Corbey’s life. It was a song called One Life, Gary Haugen and Bill Hybels’ talk that initiated a turning point. “They spoke to my heart about making a choice to trust God in a risky, dangerous world, to do risky, challenging things that honor God and bring His presence to hurting people,” says Corbey. “There were many moments when God demonstrated He was in this, and not going was actually disobedience. Gary Haugen challenged us to charge into darkness and Bill Hybels shared how callings are precious. I was challenged to hold nothing back in great, God-sized endeavors. I was all in.”
Stepping into the unknown
Corbey’s wife was already ahead of him in believing they would be moving to Guatemala. And though their two daughters, then a junior in high school and a middle schooler, were hesitant about the idea, they would both say it was the best decision their parents made, even after facing all the dangerous challenges.
“In my service as mission’s pastor, I developed a relationship with Guatemala and Kids Alive here,” says Corbey. “However, nothing prepared me for what would happen. Within the first year, I was kidnapped in a carjacking, a gang tried to force us off the road and my wife and oldest daughter were held up at gunpoint in separate incidents, among other things.
“I came here to serve out of obedience, trusting God for what would happen. I had no idea what to expect. I knew these children had suffered and were in need of Jesus, but I had no idea the level of suffering or how it affected them. I had no knowledge of the physiological effects of deep trauma. But God was assembling a team that was ready to be innovative, striving for excellence and taking a more dangerous path.
“And He wanted me to lead that team.
“Now in the last 10 years, I have held the hand of a 10-year-old giving birth; I later held the hand of that same child as we buried her daughter a month later. I have been in court as girls stand up to cross examinations and tell of horrible sex crimes committed against them. The things done to them out of sin enrages me and breaks my heart…but seeing Jesus restore them through our team and give them a new life puts me in awe.”
You never know what might happen when you say yes to God’s call
Corbey now leads Kids Alive Guatemala programs. One is a school and community discipleship program in a remote village where they provide meals, education, health services and community programs for 250 kids. The other program works exclusively with girls who are victims of sexual crimes.
Corbey’s team provides trauma therapy, discipleship and legal support along with the basics of life. The result? A 70% conviction rate in a country where the national average is 6%!
They also just launched a foster family program in partnership with the Guatemalan government. There is currently a waiting list, as the government places girls in other shelters until there is room in the program.
God changes lives and provides hope when you say yes
Young girls, as young as five to eight years old, who are forced to endure unspeakable abuse and violence, find hope and justice through Kids Alive’s programs. One example is of a girl who was kidnapped at 12 and forced to participate in child pornography videos under threat of death to her family. When she could not endure it any more, she managed to escape. But they hunted her down, and killed her family of five before her eyes. She was later able to find justice through the support of Kids Alive. She said, “God loves justice and has given me the power to stand up against my abusers.” She slayed her giants in court, even though her life was seriously threatened.
Her story is unfortunately like the stories of too many other girls who have come into the Kids Alive program. But through the service of Corbey’s team, these girls are discovering a God who loves them.
“Last month, several of these girls asked to be baptized in our baptism service,” says Corbey. “Seeing how Jesus ministers through the staff is a miracle to behold.
“When these girls enter the water for baptism they are in tears because they know God has rescued them from one hell already.
“These girls truly worship, know the love of a Good Father, accept God is good even in the midst of horrors, and they publicly declare, ‘I am God’s daughter; I am cleansed by His sacrifice; I am chosen with a purpose; I am powerful.’
“We have seen a hundred more resurrections like these in past few years. And to think, I would have said no to this call?”
“Our team’s dream is to change the entire child protective system of Guatemala and Latin America,” says Corbey. “We are making innovations to help the most prevalent child in protective custody—an adolescent. We are also working to make this a call for the Latin American church to become involved, and for other Christian NGOs to think out of the box. We just signed a game-changing agreement with the Guatemalan government to a new style of foster care and hope this will be a new model. We are already training other ministries in family reunification and justice.”
Corbey is in constant prayer for the spiritual and physical protection of his staff. “We deal with evil,” says Corbey. “But we also have the bravest group of women in the world. Our Guatemalan social workers and psychologist go into areas that are very unsafe and basically do the work of police investigators so our girls can have justice. When I asked one of them about safety concerns she said, Jesus will protect me until he doesn’t. That is faith!”
If you are in pursuit of your own calling, attend the Summit
“The Summit challenges ingrained thoughts,” says Corbey. “It exposes me to other leaders who have great vision and share their experiences. I have Guatemalans talking about ‘the right people on the bus’, ‘be a risk-taking Christian with a BHAG’, and ‘dysfunctions of the team.’ Things I learned at the Summit permeate my thinking and decision making.
“The Summit inspires me to be a better and braver leader.
“People can attend The Summit as a leadership conference or they can embrace it as a vision-building, game-changing experience. Taking the Summit messages and acting on them has allowed God to work through me to accomplish things that, frankly, I cannot do on my own. I personally believe too many Christians are too passive and toss the blame to God. ‘Well, when God opens that door, then I will…’
“My experience is that God is looking for people to partner with and work through, who will step into the river in faith before He parts the waters. The Summit inspires that kind of brave action.”