Impact Blog

Guatemala Reflections by Christina Stewart

Wherever I travel I meet people who humble and challenge me. My recent trip to Guatemala was no different.

With tears rolling down her cheeks Mimi shared passionately her vision. Years ago she opened an out of school center for neighborhood kids in an effort to steer them away from all the gang activity in the area. The normal course of events would lead them into doing poorly in school, struggling with self esteem and being pulled toward a hopeless future. Now they attend her program for a half day each weekday. Here they are helped with homework, learn about a God who loves them and has a destiny waiting to be discovered. Many who had no papers and therefore couldn’t attend school have been helped to navigate the system of bureaucracy. No children who attend regularly failed a grade last year. The program has been so successful that a second center will soon open. Children who formally attended now return to help lead the younger ones. Their voices rang out and faces beamed with enthusiasm as they sang for us. In August we will return with a team to put on a party for these precious kids with games, food and fun, as well as celebrating all that God is doing in their midst.

In two different areas we walked along forlorn, unused railroad tracks. One area was full of squatters’ homes. Here I met a mother who was struggling to raise her children in what could be a very dark place. Yet her small space was swept clean and she welcomed us in for a visit, sharing proudly about her children. We were able to pray with her and the light of Jesus permeated the darkness. We will return with food and water filters for her and her neighbors in August.

The second far side of the track story was sadder. Here scantily clad women scrape together enough money to feed their families by selling their bodies. How I longed to sit with each one of them in their 10-foot square room to share the love of Jesus and the hope of His salvation and deliverance. I see this situation in every country we go to and look forward to the day when we have solid exit strategies and retraining programs for these daughters of the Most High God. I know when some of the team return in a few months they will come with hearts full of love and not judgment, hands full of small gifts that will bless, and prayers for a way out where there seems to be no way. I am ever thankful to those who minister here regularly and hope our coming alongside encourages them.

We walked through the village of Barberena with rain clouds threatening. Just as the heavens opened with much needed rain we entered the pastor’s home. He was away helping with another church he had planted, but his wife welcomed us and shared that they had built their home together and now two families live there. She shared about their congregation of 150, more evidence of their faith and hard work, as well as some of the struggles of village life. The children had fun singing action songs.  We prayed with them all, including her mother, who felt well enough not to return to bed. As they led us through fertile fields back to our car we promised the team would return with food, water filters and more prayers of healing and salvation.

These are just some of the encounters I had in a few short days while scouting Guatemala for our upcoming journey there August 5-14th. God’s heart is in each of his children. And each of us has a unique part to play in extending his kingdom. As I said, I was humbled and challenged and my spirit responded as I encountered each one releasing the love of God where they were with a selfless attitude which declared “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:11. From our hosts who served us selflessly, to those ministering in schools, villages and churches, those reaching out to the forgotten and abused, each one gave me hope for the nation of Guatemala. Join our team in August and be part of the adventure!

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