All posts by Mark Wakefield



A delicious meal left in the fridge until it becomes science.

I wanted to ask this simple favor of you before I arrive in the US for a visit. Every time I travel back North, I am “uninvited” to friend’s homes because “they are unclean, just a mess, and totally unorganized”. I totally get that and can’t imagine how on earth you live with yourself the eleven months of the year that I am not back for a visit.   So I wanted to request that you clean and organize every area of your home, including garage, sheds, and attic, before I return to visit.

I must confess. My house is immaculate. I don’t have much disorder and I spend endless hours making sure that my home is organized and clean. I was visiting my cousins not long back, and Angie commented on how embarrassing for her was the pile of shoes in the doorway. I stopped to reflect on that pile of shoes. That would never happen at my house. All the shoes in my home are organized and they never smell putrid; nuclear smelling shoes are just not allowed. Another friend noted that the books on their bookshelf were dusty and not in order. Not in order? All my my piles of books are completely organized, and those that are dusty are that way because it increases their market value. Junk in the garage? My carport is immaculate, always. Never any trash, piles of firewood, bicycles strewn about…..never!!

My kitchen is grease free. I make sure my boys always keep things tidy. They never find beans and greens growing under the dish drainers. I’ve never pulled plates of well formed mold colonies out of my refrigerator. The ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise containers are never overflowing, and they never leave little condiment trails through the fridge door and out across the floor. I’ve never found a rat in the oven, and the rumors that one was found asleep in the microwave one Saturday morning…..those were just unfounded rumors. Salt shakers are always clean, and I would be horrified if I found chewing gum stuck to the bottom of my tables.

Our bathrooms are germ free areas, fit for the tidiest castle. Toilets are always flushed, my boys never miss when they pi….um…..pee. I hear that in some places toilet paper goes in the trash, not the toilet…..horrifying!! Sinks are tidy and blue stains from randomly spit toothpaste are never to be found in my glaring white sinks. Mirrors are clean and perfectly shiny. The shower never had underwear strewn about, lost socks seeking a new life, or soap and shampoo abandoned on the wet floor. John let me know he found mold in the ceiling in his guest bathroom…..I was totally horrified!! Mold?  Our home has never known of mold.

I don’t know what clutter looks like and I’d hate to arrive at your home to discover it. I know this may be a lot to ask, but be sure all food products in your kitchen are not outdated. Clean in those dark and hidden places where few of you have dared to look in awhile. Please dust around your TV and DVD player. Use cleaning wipes on your remote control. I make sure mine is sanitary…..well….I do when I can find it. No pet hair please, as I’m allergic to cat hair. In my house we never allow animals, a stray goat, four cats, not to mention snakes or anything that slithers. I’d be shocked if you allowed animals in your house… less should I discover a flea or fly. My home never has flies, and the fly tape you may see is simply for décor.

Thanks for taking all of this into consideration. I won’t even get into how you should clean your car, and since I probably would be terrified at how horridly unkempt your vehicle is, I’ll be driving my own car, just to save you the trouble. (Or does Merry Maids do cars?) Cars should be places of sterile tranquility…..I’ll bet you’ve never taken QTips to your air conditioning vents. Do you ever clean in that dark sneaky area under your car cushions. I’ll bet not. Out of respect for your missionary who is home on visit, please take a few hours, or even days to be sure your home is perfect. If I can do it, so can you. And that will make my stay all that much better.

Thank you in advance. And if you ever want to know what a perfect Martha Stewartish home looks like, you are free to come and visit my amazing home.

Mark Wakefield is a missionary, writer, and motivational speaker who has lived since 1999 in Guatemala. Those who know him know well the sarcasm in this note. Mark’s home is called the Youth Ranch Home, and he lives and ministers to 20+ teenage boys who are orphans, cases of abandonment, or victims of severe abuse. He most often uses the words “creative chaos” when describing his home. Boys are in charge of almost every aspect of the home, including cooking andcleaning…..and that depends on your definition of the word “cleaning”.  The home is also host to 550+ chickens, some snakes, four cats, snakes, 17 goats, and a two yard long green tree snake named Hulk!   Mark journals the experiences in the home through his Facebook page, often sharing about the horrors he encounters as he does cleanliness inspections.

Discover more about Mark and the Youth Ranch Home:

Perfectly organized boy’s rooms

Mark Wakefield Biography


Mark Wakefield grew up as the son of missionary parents, living most of his childhood in central Mexico. Since 1999 Mark has served the Lord in Western Guatemala in the city of Huehuetenango, having come to this area as a Journeyman with the International Mission Board. In 2000 Mark founded Zona Juvenil Ministries (Youth Zone), an organization focused on providing “Support, Education, and Motivation for unchurched and unbelieving young people”.

After years of raising young men as sons in his home, in 2010 he founded, along with a number of young men he had raised, the Youth Ranch Home. Today this home houses 20+ young men ages 11 – 23. These boys are orphans, cases of abandonment, and many are victims of severe abuse. Mark lives in the home and trains the boys in life skills that will prepare them for a successful life. But more importantly, he says that this is the purest form of discipleship. As Jesus lived with His disciples, there is no better way to lead, learn, and train up a young man than raising him in a Christian home environment.

Mark has recently written a number of books of fables in Spanish, and is now working on books in English. His dream is to write stories that inspire others to live out the life that God has given them, to His fullest. Mark is a 1997 graduate of Campbellsville University in Kentucky, where he studied Psychology and Sociology. He holds a Masters in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, and a Masters in Organizational Leadership from Regent University in Virginia.

Mark travels to the US once a year to encourage churches to become active supporters of mission work around the world, and to stretch their hearts and minds outside the confinements of church walls. He also works hard to raise the funding needed to maintain his home and the boys who live there.

Zona Juvenil is a 501-c3 non-profit organization and tax receipts are sent each spring. For more information on Mark, the Youth Ranch Home, or how you can become a partner in this ministry:
Zona Juvenil Ministries
PO Box 862
Boiling Springs, NC 28017.

Nowhere To Go


I received a phone call from a school psychologist yesterday about Josue, a fourteen-year-old boy who is having serious problems due to an unstable home situation. I had received a phone call about him around a year ago, but he had survived another year of school while still at home. Now, the situation is so serious he is out on the street. The school had painstakingly worked their way through every available option, even resorting to the juvenile court system. But in the end, Josue was still living with his father and suffering indescribable abuse.

The Zona Juvenil Ministry team serves as a quick reaction force, responding 24/7 to emergencies involving young people and their families. The Youth Ranch Home is pretty much the only option for young men who need a Safe Place where they can find help. Our home serves as an oasis of love and support for those guys who really need to escape abuse, think through their situation, or make life transforming decisions. So, yesterday, thirty-five minutes after the call, I was sitting at school speaking with Josue.

Josue is a very intelligent kid, and a single parent, raising an alcohol dependent and very abusive father. Like many adolescents in this type of situation, he is realizing he is not doing a very good job at raising his father. And he feels lost. He recently met his mother for the first time, but there is no real relationship with her. To escape the abuse, he has to resort to sleeping on the street when his father is “in a really bad mood”. And although he is extremely bright, he is at risk of failing the school year due to missing so many days of school.

The Youth Ranch Home is both home and family for over twenty boys who have no other home. But we also serve as a refuge for boys who need a temporary home or a safe place for a night or two. We don’t always share who is spending a night/week/month, but these boys are just as important to our home as those we always share about. They are important because God allows us a short period of time to share His love, His plan, His hope, and His joy while they are within our walls. Josue shared that on Friday night he came home to find his father intoxicated and extremely violent. The man hit him so hard that he bounced off of a wall and lay unconscious for a time before crawling out of his house and to safety. He spent the weekend on the street, ultimately walking on Sunday evening across the city alone in the dark and pouring rain until he found where his mother is living. She allowed him to spend Monday with her, but now he is out on the street again. “I lay in the dark, drenching wet, wondering if there were someplace for a boy like me to go”.

Today we will meet with the juvenile court and Josue’s family to determine where the best place for him will be for a time. Please pray for our team today as we walk with Josue through this process, and for thousands more like him who are on the streets and feel hopeless.



The conversation started with quite an interested comment from one of our boys. “I don’t need money. I don’t need to be rich or even famous. I have you. And because I have you, I have a home, food, clothes, a Playstation, a nice warm bed, and I cats and goats. That is all I need. If I didn’t have you, I wouldn’t have any of those things!”

Jesus never instructed us to build our own kingdoms, but to invest in His Kingdom. When I spend time with some of my friendships from the past twenty years, it quickly becomes obvious in what they invest their time, money, and lives. It is clear what is most important to them. Some invest in a hobby or a sport. Others invest in their families or friendships. Some shock me at the way they waste all that God has given them; many do not follow Christ, so their investments of course are not about Him.

But this leads me to the questions I am always asked when I travel.
“Why on earth do you do what you do?”
“What do you get out of it?”
“When do you plan on quitting and starting a normal life?”
“How on earth will you retire if you don’t have any money?”

These questions, independently, say a lot about a person’s view of life.   But, the answer is simple. I don’t invest in my life. I invest my life in the lives of others, to further His Kingdom. It has never been my intention to build my own “Markville”. Everything that I administer is His and will continue being His long after I’ve stepped into eternity. The Bible says to “Seek first His Kingdom, and everything else will fall into place”.

Matthew 30-34 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.
People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. [The Message Bible]

Father God. I don’t need money. I don’t need to be rich or even famous. I have you. And because I have you, I have a home, food, clothes, a working computer, a nice warm bed, and I cats and goats. I’m blessed to have a home FULL of wonderful sons that I get to raise. That is all I need. If I didn’t have you, I wouldn’t have any of those things!”