Bob Hentzen, Unbound


A  passing received little public notice here. It happened in Guatemala on Oct. 8. Bob Hentzen, a Kansas farm boy who grew up to arrange the flow of over $1 billion to lift up and empower the poor around the world, died unexpectedly at the age of 77.
Hentzen was the founder with his family and a friend of the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA). His work may be best known from the preaching of priest friends in parishes around the country who ask people to sponsor a child or elderly person in places such as Guatemala, India, Uganda, Ecuador, Philippines, Bolivia.
Sponsors receive information about, say, their child and make a small money gift monthly that is funneled to a local project serving the community where the child lives.  The child may be helped with the cost of a school uniform – often required in other countries – and supplies. The family may receive special help needed to maintain a home, perhaps a sewing machine so the mother has an income. The local project overseeing distribution of this aid is run by local people who monitor the welfare and progress of sponsored persons. They also do the translation required for letters back and forth between U.S. sponsors and their new friends.
In the 32 years since its founding in Bob Hentzen’s home, CFCA has sent more than $1 billion in this way into the lives of the world’s poor and marginalized. The non-profit organization he set up is an amazing network of localized distribution with full financial transparency at the top and oversight shared between the center in Kansas City, Kan., and regions of the world being served. It has one of the highest efficiency ratings of American charitable groups.
When Hentzen died he was living in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala. In 1996 he walked from Kansas City 8,000 miles with his ever-present guitar to set up a new home in Guatemala. Later, beginning in 2009, he took an 18-month walk through South America into Chile to, as he put it, “meet the poor.” To say to them, “You are not alone.”
Shortly before his death, he and other CFCA leadership agreed on changing its name to Unbound. “Since the very beginning,” he wrote in a last message to sponsors, “(we) have dreamed of freeing God’s people – from hunger, from slavery, from pain…. Unbound is our future.”
Frank Wessling

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1 thought on “Bob Hentzen, Unbound

  1. I have written to CFCA objecting to the removal of ‘CHRISTIAN’ from its banner. No one has responded. I am a sponsor for over 10 years. To remove Christ from the equation is indeed an insult to God. I shall continue to support my sponsored child. Once my sponsored child is no longer eligible for help, I shall direct my efforts to another charity which is not ashamed to be called Christian. How is it that the “board” approved without the consrnt of the sponsors who support them?

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