Chapel: A difference-maker tells her story

November 18, 2014 / by / 0 Comment

By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau

Chapel services this semester at Grand Canyon University, befitting the “Making a Difference” theme, have featured a wide variety of inspirational messages about getting involved on campus and in the local community. Monday, the message went global with a talk that is best labeled “Story Time.”

And, oh boy, does Beth Guckenberger of Back2Back Ministries have some tales to tell.

Beth Guckenberger shared stories Monday morning that demonstrated to the Chapel audience that you don't need to have everything figured out before you  start a ministry. Photo by Darryl Webb

Beth Guckenberger shared stories Monday morning that demonstrated to the Chapel audience that you don’t need to have everything figured out before you start a ministry. Photo by Darryl Webb

Guckenberger began with the story of how she and her husband, Todd, first felt called by God in 1996 to minister to orphans after graduating from Indiana University. But they didn’t just try to make a difference in Cincinnati, their hometown. Instead, they opened an orphanage in Monterrey, Mexico.

Did she know Spanish? Nope. Did she know everything there was to know about managing an orphanage? Uh-uh. She just had her faith. And that was enough.

Guckenberger told a hilarious story about how she was so clueless about what to do, just putting their money — which they had stored in the form of traveler’s checks — in a Mexican bank was a fiasco. The teller kept trying to explain (in Spanish, of course) that Beth had to sign the checks, and when she finally understood, she wrote nombre on the checks rather than her actual name.

“It all very much starts with a girl who didn’t know how to sign a traveler’s check,” she said.

The couple stayed there until late last year and now runs a ministry that has 140 employees in operations on three continents, India, Nigeria and Haiti as well as Mexico. They have helped thousands of children and are raising 10 of them — three biological and seven adopted.

Guckenberg has written four books — “Reckless Faith,” “Relentless Hope,” “Tales of the Not Forgotten” and “Tales of the Defended Ones” — and is part of a radio show at 8 a.m. MST Saturdays on Sirius XM 131.

Monday was the first time she had been to Phoenix, and she was moved by what students told her afterward: Her talk had inspired them to realize that you don’t have to have everything figured out to do God’s work.

Guckenberger pointed to the messages of Zechariah 4:10 (“Who dares despise the day of small things”) and Mark 5:1 (the story of Legion) to drill home her message about how Jesus “is the star of the show.”

Her final story was about an orphanage in Mexico that was out of money and food one day, and the director had the children pray for God to send food to them. A 4-year-old orphan said he was praying for meat, and it just so happened that the Guckenbergers had come across a donation of steaks so large, they couldn’t fit it all in their freezer and decided to share it with other orphanages.

These weren’t just any steaks, either. They were the choicest cuts from a company that was at a convention trying to impress local restaurants.

“I love that story for two reasons,” Guckenberger said. “The first reason I love it is that I think that God’s got big plans in store for that little boy, that he chose to teach him at age 4 it takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move a mountain. … 

“And the second reason I like that story is … there’s something otherworldly, supernatural, bigger than us, that happens when we get ourselves in places and circumstances where we can’t fix it, we can’t solve it, we don’t know enough, we don’t have enough, we aren’t enough on our own to move the ball down the field. We need God to come in and show up and show off and do His thing and get all the glory.”

● For a replay of Guckenberger’s talk, click here.

● For a slideshow from Monday, click here.

● Next week: No Chapel (fall break)

Contact Rick Vacek at 602-639-8203 or

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