"The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe." Proverbs 18:10
We knew right away that the week ahead was covered with direction from God. Our first hotel's name meant "Strong Tower." As we embarked upon the week in Guatemala we had confidence that the prayer support from home was working and that the Lord was with us. Here's how it happened:
Aydante is the spanish word for helper. They use it to mean the guy who helps the bus driver collect money, put luggage on top and get it off (while the bus is moving!) and anything else involved. We used the word a a parallel to our work. You see, that's what we were a couple weeks ago in Guatemala. We were helpers to two Guatemalan churches doing work in a village called Chanco.
Our church, FBC Mt. Pleasant, is partnered with these two Guatemalan churches just outside of Chanco, in order to reach out to a neighboring "unreached people group" with the Gospel. This means that, among this people group, less than 2% of them are Christians. Our charge, according to Matthew 28:19, is to "Go and make disciples of all nations ..." So, they go weekly to have bible studies and we come in about 4 times a year with specialty teams.
In January our church sent a medical/dental team to provide some services to the community to try to "break the ice." The leader of the community asked them not to "evangelize" and said they could not use the school building to set up the clinic. He gave them a local community center instead. It was difficult to get up the side of the mountain to the community center, but they did so that they could meet the people.
Lots of community members came, including the leader. He was treated and accepted prayer from one of the doctors. Even though that team was not allowed to go out into the village to tell people about Jesus, they got to pray for every person who came through. Many lives were helped by this team medically and the community was more open to outsiders when they left!
That's where we came in ... our team left in the beginning of March ready to meet with the teachers and the people of the community. The two Guatemalan churches had continued to meet on Thursday afternoons between the two trips and celebrated a few more people coming to know Jesus. When we got there, we set up two "Teacher Workdays" with the school. We spent time getting to know them and letting them know that we were there because we felt God calling us to work in their community.
The principal of the school, who lives in the community, had been through the medical clinic and was very thankful to have people working in her area. She even let us stay on the school grounds after we were done with the morning workday sessions. This was huge - in January we weren't allowed to use the school and now we were being trusted to use the facility alone after school hours. Praise God for softening the hearts of these people.
Some of our other team members met with members from our partnering Guatemalan churches and taught them how to memorize and tell stories from the Bible. This is a great helping tool for them to have since most of the people there don't have a Bible and even if they did they can't read.
In the afternoons we all went house to house meeting people and telling them about who Jesus is. We found that many of them had a deep love for the Catholic church, but it was not the Catholicism that we know in the states. It's a mix of ancient Mayan beliefs and ritualistic Catholic traditions. Many had heard the name "God" or "Jesus" but couldn't tell you anything about them.
The Guatemalan church members didn't hesitate to tell them stories in the Bible that they'd learned to help explain who Jesus was and what it means to be a Christian. It was great to witness the sharing of the Gospel.
We experienced 5 people come to know Jesus and feel confident that the attendance on Thursday night Bible Studies will grow. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, a church will rise up among this people group.
Our next team leaves in July to pour into families and children in the afternoons with the help of the Guatemalan church members. Our prayer, upon arriving back home, is that the doors that were open will stay open. We pray that the people who heard about Jesus for the first time ever will continue to want to know more. We pray that the next team will make good connections with families in the community so that we can keep coming and the Guatemalan churches can keep reaching out to their neighbors.
Will you join us in praying for them? Thank you so very much for your prayer support while we were gone - we felt the power of those prayers while we were down there and can't wait to go back next year! God Bless, David & Kristen