“For I know the thoughts and plans I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome,” reads the quote from Jeremiah 29:11 on the pamphlet of the Casa Hogar El Corazón de Rey children’s home in Acuña.
The mission of White Stone Ministries, who operate the nonprofit home, is predicated on that scriptural verse. The home is a place of shelter, care, comfort and safety for children who have been abandoned, forgotten, abused and neglected. The 6,000 square foot structure is located three blocks from the port in downtown Acuna and currently houses 35 children including infants. The central figure in the home isn’t Ron Sherman, co-founder of the home, but Christ.
However, Sherman, along with his wife Anna Sherman, an ordained minister and native of South Africa, are the Earthly facilitators of El Corazón de Rey home. Setting out to be an orchestra conductor/music teacher, Ron Sherman, who has his Ph.D. in Christian counseling and is a certified behavioral consultant, became disillusioned with public education and took the path less traveled journeying to the deep south to teach at a Christian drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Alabama. When that facility closed its doors, he was led to open two children’s homes in Uvalde and an emergency shelter in San Antonio. After nine years, the state cut its support for nonprofit children’s homes, which comprised 99 percent of the funding for Ron Sherman’s sites, and he found himself without a home so to speak. “I’m not a fundraiser. Our budget was...a third of a million dollars every year,” he said.
Ron Sherman soon began doing consulting work in Mexican orphanages.
“I just got hooked with what I saw in Mexico, because the orphanages, children’s homes were...they’re bad.” He couldn’t believe what he saw. The first home he was invited to was in Mexico City. Just blocks from the Zócalo. “It was a five-story office building that had been converted into a children’s home and they had 600 kids in there. It was horrible, horrible, horrible in there. Good people...but they would have 35 kids in one bedroom,” he commented. He explained the situation wasn’t intentional, but the staff was completely overwhelmed.
Eventually, he was asked to travel to South Africa to visit a church and orphanages. In local townships and in Zambia, he witnessed heart wrenching and gut-churning situations. One of the first children he held there was dying of AIDS like many of the others who surrounded her. “I never held a child that I knew was dying. That was gonna die,” he said. The administrator at that particular home indicated to Ron Sherman that all the kids there were three to four months away from death. He came back home and ultimately, after walking through a variety of barriers and stumbling blocks in Mexico, started the home in Acuña with Anna.
“A year into it we had a surprise visit from the head lady at the top (Coahuila child protective services), the head attorney for child protective services for the state level and head psychologist...They spent seven hours with us...so when they left they said congratulations you have the best home in the state...and so every year for the last eight years that’s the way we are. And they took our stuff and turned it into a manual for the state,” he said. More than 400 kids have come through the home during the past nine years without funding from any level of government in Mexico.
White Stone Ministries’ funding comes from private donors, churches and their thrift and consignment store in
Del Rio. (Repurposed For A Purpose at 1010 Veterans Boulevard; www.facebook.com/revron209.) For more information on their mission and donating please visit www.facebook.com/whitestone.min and www.whtestonekids.org.