Thursday, February 23, 2012

It is hot again. The winds have changed in the last week and the dust blows continously. We have had no rain now since September. And the widows are beginning to come again, asking for food. Our nutrition program is filling up. Men are trying to earn cash by cutting sugar cane on the "coast". It is exhausting work, swinging a machete 12 hours a day in 100 degree weather. Women are left to care for children alone, often with little food and no money. Tuesday, Fransisca came into the clinic in Chiminisijuan with her 1 year old, sick and weighing just 12 pounds. Mom is 8 months pregnant with twins. She will need to go to the hospital to have these babies but her husband is gone and there is no one to care for the one year old. When I told her that there were 2 babies, big tears rolled down her face....the desperation so profound. We loaded her up with as much food as she could carry and medicine for the little one and sent her on her way with a prayer that Jesus would give her the strength that she needs.

There are so many like her - in need and desperate. What we have to give is so little. But we are learning the power of prayer because we know that without Jesus, the cycle can not be broken. Only He can bring healing. Only He can make the wrong things right. Only He can...
comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty for ashes
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:2-3

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The hearts of the fathers

As Duane and I go on thirteen years of serving here in Guatemala, there are a few things that we have learned. One is that Guatemalans are so much better at ministering to their own people than we could ever dream of. We have learned that our most effective way to reach people is to help those who are called to serve here, those who have a heart to see their country changed. And so it is that we find ourselves beginning this new year standing behind two young men whom we have found to be faithful in that calling.
We met Armando on our very first trip to Guatemala in 1996. He is one of about 70 children (he thinks) born to a local brujo (witchdoctor). We have watched him grow from an insecure, fearful young man into a humble, gentle, Godly leader of his own people. He has a passion to see his people educated in the knowledge of God. He completed Biblical training at ASELSI - a local Bible school - two years ago. We watched him go through a very dark time last year as the church which he grew up in split apart and at the same time he lost his second son - and very nearly his wife. We have seen him pass through difficult times without bitterness toward his brothers in Christ or anger at God for allowing his son to die. About three years ago he began to help me in the clinics, evangelizing at the beginning of each clinic, translating for us and ministering to the sick and hurting in prayer and counsel. In September of last year we began to financially support him monthly so that he could begin to work out in the villages and continue to help us in the clinics. And now this year, he feels a call from God to begin a church in San Andres - not an easy thing to do here. We feel called to stand behind him and support him in this call.
The second young man is Victor whom we have known for about 9 years. He pastored the local church here in Canilla for some years and we got to know him as he came and shared his heart at our table almost weekly. His passion and call from God is to reach out to drug addicts and alcoholics both of which he has been deliverd from. Three years ago, he began in a more formal way to minister to these men when he opened a very small home. He started literally with nothing and has seen God's provision as he has stepped out in faith to do what God has called him to do. We have watched him struggle to provide food and shelter for these men whom he picks up off of the street in drunken stupors. We know as well that it is God's heart that he expresses as he ministers to men who no one else cares for, taking them in over and over just as our Heavenly Father takes us in time after time as we fall in our weakness. And so we have decided to help Victor in a more formal way in the administration of this ministry and by supporting it financially each month.
Malachi 4:5 says "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers." We believe that God has set us as "fathers" to these two young men. And just as with our own children, our prayer is that they will be used by God and that they will grow each day in wisdom and understanding of this great God that we serve. Pray with us for them, that God will abundantly bless these two young men and give to them all that they need to complete the call of God upon their lives.