Left in the Dust

“On the day I arrived, I witnessed a boy being abandoned at the orphanage.”

More than twenty years later, DJ Schuetze vividly remembers the moment his life was forever changed.

“Everything I had ever learned about ministry was stripped away, and all I could do was sit with this kid in the dust. I had never felt so used by God.”

At the time, DJ was a young Christian businessman from southern California who traveled to Mexico to serve in an orphanage. He had been below the border several times with various service teams, but on this particular trip he was alone because he desired a different kind of experience.

He couldn’t have realized the impact of this trip.

Within two years, DJ got married and moved to La Mision, Baja California, Mexico, to open an orphanage.

“A year into marriage, we were handed the keys to an orphanage and told to have fun,” he says, adding with a laugh, “We don’t recommend it for newlyweds.”

Today, Door of Faith Orphanage is one of the largest orphanages in Baja California and has one of the highest success rates. It has an almost nonexistent runaway rate, and most of its orphans go on to receive an education.

“Just last year, one of our kids graduated with a law degree,” says DJ.

“We’re doing things that are a little bit different,” he says. Because of their great success, DJ and his wife Lynette are speaking into orphan care around the world by visiting orphanages who inquire after their strategy.

And the strategy is simple: follow Jesus.

Over a decade ago when DJ was in a bookstore looking for management advice, Lead Like Jesus was the only book written in both Spanish and English.

“Now it is required reading for all of our long-term missionaries. We also give it to the older kids to read. I keep a stock in my office in both languages, as well as pass it out to management and staff of other orphanages.”

Most importantly, LLJ materials are used to train the adults who work with the little faces that fill the rooms at Door of Faith Orphanage.

“Too often, foster care creates victims,” says DJ. “But serving like Jesus gives them purpose, healing, and an identity. Everything we do is based on service. Our kids run a food bank, build homes, volunteer at other orphanages, and feed kids on the streets of Tijuana. It brings them from being a victim to being someone who can be used by God.”

Discovering LLJ gave Door of Faith a foundation for their service model.

“Lead Like Jesus has contributed to the healing process of our kids. They are encouraged to put others first and influence the lives of others. In doing so, they find their own healing.”