Beginnings and Tragedy
Casa Aleluya was founded in 1989 by Mike and Dottie Clark. Mike was born into a Roman Catholic family in Central Louisiana while Dottie was the daughter of a Southern Baptist minister in Southern Arkansas. Both were born in 1943. They met at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana in 1962 and married in 1963. Upon graduation Mike took a job teaching special education in Bakersfield, California. Following the tragedy of losing their first child, Mike and Dottie moved back to Louisiana where he studied for his Master’s in Special Education.
Studying at NSU and working at the State Institution for the Mentally Retarded, Mike and Dottie experience the loss of two more children to the birth defects that took their first child
Offered a teaching position to the University of Florida, Mike and Dottie moved there to study for an PHD in Special Education. Here began the relationship with God that would bring them to Guatemala years later. Early in this season, they adopted the first of six children, and over the next decade God would bless them with five more children. As in the case of Job, the Lord gave to Mike and Dottie double what had been taken from them. Time would eventually take them through Louisiana again where for eleven years they pastored Alleluia Acres Fellowship in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Build your House on the Rock, a daily radio broadcast, has been on the air for over 20 years now.
The Beginning of the Call
As 1989 approach, Mike reluctantly went to Guatemala on a one-week mission trip at the continual urging of a fellow minister. While in Guatemala, Mike went walking each morning at 4:30 a.m. and everywhere he went, he saw children in need. Back at the hotel while in the shower, Mike’s heart broke and he began to weep – a reaction quite contrary to his normal emotionless demeanor.
Returning to Louisiana, Dottie asked him how his trip was and again, he began to cry. Although Mike had buried three children, his father and his brother, Dottie had never seen him shed a tear. She knew something both strange and wonderful had happened. “When are we moving to Guatemala?” she asked. Four months later with five children in the back of a pick-up truck, $2,000 to their name and unable to speak Spanish, they moved to Guatemala.
Now, almost 30 years later, even a quick glance back at the Casa Aleluya story reveals how God has used humble beginnings to work out His purpose. Through His grace and His mercy, Casa has:
- Helped bring healing, moral direction and wisdom to more than 5000 abandoned children and then release them back into Guatemalan communities as living stories of God’s restorative power;
- Helped build more than 100 churches, pastors’ homes and Sunday School buildings in the communities surrounding our home – all through relationships with local pastors who were in deep need of resources;
- Provided a source of community healthcare by extending the resources of Casa Aleluya’s clinic and medical staff to members of the community;
- Been a guiding community partner to villages and neighborhoods around the San Bartolomé region, influencing governmental leadership, community health and the spiritual welfare of families and communities;
- Facilitated 10,000 short-term missionaries from xx U.S. churches and ministry organizations to share in God’s redemptive and restorative work at Casa;
- Since 1999, emphasized a “least of these” commitment to invite children with the worst abusive experiences and catastrophic health conditions into the Casa Aleluya home.