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Ministry in Guatemala

February 9th, 2014 2 comments

Mayan Bible Institute

We spent two days at the Mayan Bible institute. It is a brand new Bible school that was started by a missionary family here. The vision of this school is to raise up pastors and evangelists among the Unreached Mayan villages in Guatemala.

While the Hispanic majority of Guatemala is heavily reached with churches on every corner, hundreds of native Mayan villages have either no church, or a nominal Catholic faith that is heavily combined with native religious traditions.

As there is no dynamic native church movement in these villages, this Bible Institute is training native pastors who will return to these villages to reach them for Christ. One if the exciting things about this school is they are building it to be completely self-sustaining. It is carved totally out of the jungle, and largely built with materials from the jungle. When the students come, they get a plot of land and it is their responsibility to grow and tend their own crops to support their family. Also there will be many sustainable projects to provide income for the school like fish ponds and farm animals.

When we visited the students were building “chicken tractors”, a new technique for them where it’s a portable chicken coup that can be dragged around to fertilize a large area. As part of volunteering there our family visited a lime tree orchard that was newly planted by the previous team. Unfortunately there was a problem, as there was a huge ant nest there in the jungle. The leaf cutter ants had been stripping the leaves from the new lime trees and carrying them back to their nest!

We got a special white paint with lime in it and painted the base of each of the hundreds if trees. Apparently this is very effective at keeping crawling insects from climbing the trees, you see it done on almost every tree in the area! It was a perfect job for the kids, and of course Keisha was humming “we’re painting the line trees white” (“painting the roses red” from Alice in Wonderland). We also took a walk in the jungle and ran into some Howler Monkeys. That was a lot of fun, it was a bit scary approaching those guttural growling noises in the dark forest. I thought it sounded like a bear about to attack, Justus thought they had “breathing problems” (asthma).
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The next day we returned and took to painting the outhouses there at the institute. A bit of a fragrant job but it needed to be done. The kids had fun herding turkey’s and chickens in between painting.
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Remar Children’s Home

One evening we visited a children’s home in town. They have about 30 kids, some are orphans but most have been removed from horribly abusive homes. We helped got to know the kids a little by making balloon animals (they kept popping). Then Jesse and Sara taught a little Bible lesson about about Valentines day and God’s love for us. We ended playing a few games with the kids, and of course they made Eden, Justus, and Silas the center of attention.

It was sad to find out that they barely get by and have no regular financial support. Often they have to take the kids out to the market to beg the merchants for extra food. Someone recently donated a giant 500 gallon container of soap/disinfectant that was damaged, so they have been filling up bottles and with some of the boys going all around town trying to sell them for pennies really.
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Needless to say they were really in need, so we went to the grocery store (Guatemala Walmart) and bought a few carts full of food and dry goods with money from the team that visited last. It was great to be able to do that and deliver it all to them.

Church

On Friday night we attended Jesse and Sara’s cell group for a message and fellowship over a yummy traditional Guatemalan dinner. It was a fun experience, especially to witness and learn about their dynamic church. They are members if Casa De Dios, which is a fast growing cell church based out of Guatemala City. There they have over 20,000 members, and in PetĂ©n about 2000, which is so much larger than any other churches that usually max out at 300. As a cell church, they are a church planting movement, where the primary focus of the church is on the small groups and discipleship, raising up new leaders and new cells. This allows them to grow exponentially through true person to person evangelism and discipleship, rather than by “inviting” other Christians to Sunday service. In fact they don’t really participate in traditional evangelistic mass outreaches as they find them ineffective in comparison long-term.
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So after studying such church acting movements in the Perspectives course it was exciting to see one in action in Guatemala! However, there is no similar movement in the less-reached Mayan native peoples. Because of this most missionaries here focus their ministry in that area, as the Hispanic Guatemalan church is unlikely to push across that people group boundary.

Highlights

  • Fishing the kids toilet paper out of the toilet (no flushing!)
  • Roosters and loudspeakers waking you up in the morning
  • Me going up to the offering bucket in church during the ladies turn (it was a competition between men and women, I missed that fact!)
  • Stuffing ourselves with yummy tacos everyday!
  • hitting deadly potholes and “tumelo’s” at 50MPH, ouch!
  • Chiggers (don’t wear flip flops in the jungle!)