Everybody loves a love story, especially when the hero and heroine overcome countless obstacles to live together happily ever after.
That is the tale of Dr. Saul and Maria Camacho, who first met as orphans in the Matamoros Children’s Home (MCH) in Mexico. Their devoted friendship amid tragedy and loss eventually sparked a deep, abiding love, centered on their mutual love for Christ.
When the Camachos grew up and left the orphanage, Saul went to college and then completed medical school. They married and started a family. Soon, Saul had a prosperous medical practice and a comfortable, stable life.
It truly was their “happily ever after,” the perfect ending to the love story of two orphaned children.
Their story was just getting started though. In fact, God began authoring another narrative for the Camachos that would involve a lifetime of loving other orphans.
In a recent visit to the AFA campus, Saul and Maria shared with The Stand how they found themselves at a crossroads in life around 1985. The direction God nudged them to take at that time seemed more like a U-turn than a new path forward.
He used that one change in direction to forever impact their family – and their nation.
Seeing the need
It all started when Saul felt God urging him to do something for the children’s home where he and Maria had met. First, he offered free medical services to the orphanage, but that was not enough. Logically, he thought he could offer greater financial support, but God continued pressing him for something more. But what and how?
Saul explained, “Finally, the chairman of the board for the children’s home came to my office and told me that they were having some problems, … and they were looking for someone to help take care of that ministry.”
Without immediate help, MCH would close, and that prospect saddened Saul and his wife. The orphanage had given them a safe home in the past and a beautiful life together in the present. The couple could do nothing else to help the orphanage, or so he thought.
The chairman thought differently. He asked the young physician to come and help run the children’s home. Saul’s immediate response was a resounding, “No, no, no!”
“The day before he came,” said Saul, “I was offered the position to become the director of the largest hospital in town. I knew what I wanted to do. I knew what prestige, success, and everything besides money, I would get by becoming the director of this hospital.”
But the chairman was undeterred; he returned a week later with the same plea. Outwardly, Saul was adamant in his refusal. However, in his heart he was ambivalent.
The prospect of traveling to Mexico City to train six months for the hospital directorship meant missing the Christmas holidays with his young family. So in August 1985, he asked for a training postponement and was granted that request. Again. God’s timing was perfect.
One month later, a catastrophic earthquake rocked Mexico City, the worst shaking in a century. Over 5,000 people died in the earthquake, and hundreds of buildings were destroyed, including the medical center where Saul would have been training. With two major aftershocks, the damage to the area cost more than $3 billion.
The realization that God had spared him from this tragedy shook him as well.
As he watched television coverage of the earthquake, he questioned why he was not there. The answer was clear.
Heeding the call
“I knew that God was calling us to the children’s home,” Saul stated. “So I went back home that day and told my wife. She smiled and said, ‘Yes, I feel called too. What are we going to do?’”
The next day, Saul gave the hospital his resignation, effective immediately. They offered more money, more time, or whatever was needed to keep him on board. But it was no longer about money, prestige, or success.
For Saul and Maria, it was simply about obedience to answer God’s call and return to MCH, the very place where their story began.
“By October of that year,” he declared, “we were taking care of the children’s home. And we’ve been there ever since.”
Their story could have ended with their testimony of loving obedience to God. After all, few people would willingly go back to a place of abandonment and loss to take up residence and purposely raise three daughters in the seat of poverty. But the Camachos did, and the evidence of God’s provision and love shines in their eyes as they continue to speak about their sacrificial love for the God who gave His all.
Amazingly, the rest of their story, the denouement, so to speak, is more powerful than the entirety of their tale.
For the past 38 years, the Camachos have devoted their lives to not only loving the orphans at Matamoros but leading them in the ways of God. Actually, that was their main objective upon returning to MCH.
Granted, their childhood experiences at the Christian orphanage were good, but they wanted to share the gospel more intentionally with the children in their care. The first step in carrying out their goal was to hire only Christian employees to work with the young residents.
“We wanted every child that comes [to Matamoros],” explained Saul, “to get to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior so that whenever they leave the home, they will be saved, and they can take the Word to whatever places in the country the Lord will take them.”
Continuing the mission
That original objective is still in place and reaping great rewards. More than 50 children who previously lived at MCH are now in full-time ministry. Countless others are serving the Lord through lay ministry in their communities and churches.
Through MCH, the Camachos have helped plant more than 60 churches throughout Mexico. They also travel nationally and internationally, spreading the gospel and sharing their story of all God has done at MCH.
But there’s a recent twist in their tale.
It revolves around a new radio station that can carry the salvation message into the most remote regions of Mexico, via donated solar-powered radios. Consequently, the radio waves are reaching villages where the Camachos have never been allowed to visit.
“Three years ago,” said Saul, “we started operating the station, but it took … seven, eight years to get the permits to do a Christian broadcast in the country of Mexico. And the beautiful thing about this radio station is that it’s 100% broadcasting in native dialect.”
Once again, God is using the willingness and obedience of the doctor and his wife to help reach every person in Mexico, even those who have never heard God’s message of love spoken in their own language.
As Saul eloquently prayed over AFA staff and supporters: “Father, you told us that we are the light and salt in this earth. Let us not forget that. Let us understand that responsibility that we have as believers.”
Truly, the story of the Camachos is a continuing tale with a singular plot: Boldy shine the light of Jesus for all to see.
(Digital Editor's Note: This article was published first in the November 2023 print edition of The Stand).