From the Mountains of Guatemala
I write today from the mountains of Guatemala. Our Ends of the Earth mission partner, Ministerios Impacto de Guatemala (Impact Ministries of Guatemala), is flourishing in this land of great challenges.
Les and Rita Peters started Impact Ministries with one small school nineteen years ago. The ministry now operates 10 Christian schools in seven school buildings which educate over 1,500 children. As children came to know the Lord, their families came to Christ, and needed discipleship. God moved Les and Rita to start a small group in their home to disciple those families.
Today the Rio de Vida (River if Life) church operates in three of the schools, and worships together once every six weeks at a building on the grounds of the main mission compound that is still under construction, and is being built by the Guatemalans themselves, without North American mission dollars. They worship about 1,200 when they are all together for those services.
We’ve only been in country since late Thursday evening, and we have already experienced a powerful team highlight, and a joyful personal one.
On Friday afternoon we drove up in the mountains to the location of a small school, where we found about 80 Guatemalans waiting to hear about Jesus through us gringos. (In Guatemala, “gringos” is simply descriptive, not derogatory. Gringo just means white person).
Impact Ministries has a pastor ready to plant a church on this mountain, where the villagers do not even speak the national language, Spanish, but rather a local dialect of the ancient Mayan language. So once again all communication from our team to the people had to be double interpreted, first from English to Spanish, and then from Spanish to Poqomchi.
After the Impact Ministries launch team led a couple of songs and prayer, we were introduced. We had been asked to do a “wordless skit,” and decided to pantomime the story of the shepherd going to find the lost sheep and bringing it home. The skit was fun, the Guatemalans were laughing, and it provided the opening for the message God had given me — that God sent Jesus in great love to seek and save us, who are lost.
Just as we began our skit, the typical Guatemalan afternoon rain began to fall. The Guatemalans and we Americans simply crowded together under the roof of the porch along one side of the school, and we kept going. God was gracious, and perhaps 1/3 of the people stood to respond to the invitation and give their lives to Jesus! Now the Impact Ministries pastor will organize the people into cell groups for Bible study and discipleship. These cell groups will be the foundation of this newly formed church, and act as the discipling ministry in the lives of the new believers.
It thrills my heart when even one person responds to the invitation to follow Jesus. In the US, we rarely have 1/3 of the congregation respond to an invitation to meet Christ. That is largely because on a given Sunday in church in America, most people present are already believers. The hunger to know God is intense in Guatemala, and Impact Ministries is reaching out to win people to Christ in effective ways.
The joyful personal highlight was our visit with the family of the child we sponsor through Impact Ministries! Kevin is the taller child in the white shirt. His brother, Anthony, and his mother, Wendy, joined us for the picture above. It was a total joy to reconnect with Kevin and his family, to bless them with some goodies, and to pray with them!
We will be in Tactic until Friday, then spend a day in Antigua before flying home on Sunday. We covet and appreciate your prayers for the medical clinics and Vacation Bible School with the children at one of the schools this week to be used by God for His Kingdom.
To our congregation at Dayton I want to say thank you. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to winning people to Jesus, both in our local community, and through our mission partnerships. Thank you for your prayers for lost people to come to know Jesus, and for our team as we live out this short-term mission trip. Thank you for your passion for Jesus, and for discipleship through Life Groups, Bible Studies, one-on-one conversations and learning the discipleship lessons only serving can teach.
I love you all, and I love that I get to pastor at this great church!