Missions that Make a Difference: Grace in Guatemala

“Don’t create a mission that makes us feel better about ourselves but doesn’t address the deepest hurts of humanity.”
-Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

I’d like to begin with grateful thinks to those of you who supported our Guatemala mission trip with prayer and support. Your generosity helped to spread the glory of God among the nations and to enrich the physical and spiritual lives of hundreds of people in Guatemala.

As we plan our mission projects, our goal is to address the deepest needs and hurts of the Guatemalan people in a way that is is respectful and long-lasting. We consider the following five aspects:

1) Improving the quality of life through work projects

The projects that we worked on were specifically chosen because they would make a substantial difference in the lives of people. We built houses for widows and latrines for families who had no toilet. Our teams installed stoves for people who had been cooking on open fires in their homes, endangering the health and safety of family members. We delivered food baskets to some families; others were supplied with pigs whose litters will feed whole communities. Our youth played key roles in the children’s ministry, sharing the gospel with over five hundred children under the age of ten. In the dental and medical clinic, the local people had access to a variety of services from tooth extractions to major surgeries.

2) Working in partnership with the local community

We desired to work with the Guatemalans, not for them. Handouts undermine the dignity of the recipients, reinforcing dependence and a sense of entitlement. We wanted to be perceived as partners coming along side the local people, not wealthy benefactors showering them with charity.

Donald Power led our home-building construction team. The first home they worked on was for a family from the local congregation. After helping with the construction of his own home, the husband of this family eagerly joined the construction team and helped to build more houses for his neighbors, most of whom were widows.

Our children’s team worked with a bi-vocational pastor who had a developed children’s ministry already in place. His family organized our clubs and led the children in songs and games while our students shared the gospel presentations and Bible stories and played with the children.

3) Sharing the Gospel boldly in all circumstances

Almost every Guatemalan who interacted with our teams (including our approximately 20 translators) heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. Our youth illustrated the story of redemption in our children’s clubs using color-coded bead bracelets. Our construction team shared the gospel at the end of each building project. As food basket teams delivered food to the needy in remote villages, they also spoke to the recipients about the life-transforming power of Jesus. An evangelism room at the dental and medical clinic provided an opportunity for everyone who received services to hear the gospel.

I was so encouraged to see our students and other members lead people to Christ. We were all challenged to be bold with the Gospel not only in Guatemala but in our neighborhoods and local communities back home!

4) Partnering with local churches to train disciples

We have partnerships with three churches in the vicinity of San Raymundo. All new believers were encouraged to engage actively with these local congregations for teaching, training, and encouragement in their faith. We are encouraging and equipping the pastors of these churches to they train their members to disciple new and growing believers in one-on-one relationships.

5) Developing a long-term partnership with the local church

We hope to sustain a relationship with our Guatemalan brothers and sisters over the long term. One of the highlights of my week was sitting down to pray with the elders of one of the churches following a discipleship seminar. We all shared prayer requests for our churches, and took turns praying for one another in turn. Our team had the privilege of attending Sunday services at a sister church. It was evident to all of us that though we were separated from these brothers and sisters by language and culture, we were unified in Christ. What a testament to the power of the Gospel!

Again, I thank each of you for your support in this continuing endeavor. And I look forward to next year when you can go with me!

For more information on Grace Bible Church, visit begrace.org.

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