Friday, July 4, 2008

Ministry Day One

At Pastor Antonio’s suggestion, we are starting our ministry efforts out with three days of home visits to some of the newer families in the church, to pray for their needs and to encourage them. We believe that other ministries will grow our of these prayer visits.

Yesterday was our first full day of ministry, and it was a joy. We headed out into the pueblo of San Pablo after lunch, and during our trip from here to there, it started pouring down rain. This made our trip extra entertaining, since we were standing in the back of a pick-up as the rainstorm commenced. The wetter we got, the harder we laughed. And we made a memory that will last a lifetime.

When we arrived, Pastor Antonio shared with us the history of his church, La Iglesia de la Vida Real. He told us about how the church went through multiple struggles with buying land, but at every step of the way, God provided for their needs. Now, the 2.5-year-old church owns its property debt free and is in the middle of constructing a church building that will house a school on the first floor and the sanctuary on the second. The church building’s very existence is evidence of the power of God.

Then we journeyed back out into the rain to begin our family visits. Through narrow rock-strewn alleyways, muddy with rain, we made our way to various mud-brick homes. Wood-burning fires wafted smoke into the air, and the smell of it mingled with the rain. Sometimes, we crowded into a small one or two room dwelling. Other times, we stood under awnings in outdoor kitchens as mothers and daughters prepared tortillas and soups for their family dinners.

The people we encountered were strikingly open with their struggles and needs. Elena, a mother of four daughters, told us through tears that her husband mocked her cruelly for going to church, but she knew she was doing the right thing by bringing her girls to learn about God. She feared that her husband might leave them. Another family told us of their son’s illness, how his eyes would become cloudy from time to time and his vision would dim. I can’t imagine showing up on someone’s doorstep in the US with a team of missionaries offering prayer and being welcomed with such transparency and vulnerability. May we aspire to be more like our Guatemalan brothers and sisters.

Our evening concluded with our first church service in San Pablo. After a couple of songs and a reading from Scripture, Pastor Antonio turned things over to our team. The girls started things off with Great is Thy Faithfulness and Come, Thou Fount, accompanied by Bryan on guitar. Then Karina got up and shared a testimony about Soccer Day Camp, and how God rewarded her obedience to Him. Several “Amens” rose up from the congregation as she spoke. Then I preached a sermon from Jonah 1 about the storms of life, and how God uses them to get our attention, to compel our obedience, and to strengthen our faith. The girls wrapped things up with a final song, and afterward, Pastor Antonio asked anyone suffering as illness or infirmity to come forward so that we could lay hands on them and pray for their healing.

Today, we´re headed back into the pueblo to do more of the same. Even as I type this, Molly, Bryan, Ariel, Rachelle, and Karina are in the room next to mine praying for the families we met yesterday and those we’ll meet today. We all have a feeling that God will do something great today.

One more note. Sorry for not having more pictures. We are trying to lay off of the cameras for a couple of days to keep from seeming like tourists. But rest assured, we will have many pictures to share with you in the days to come.

Thank you for your prayers. We couldn’t do what we’re doing without you.

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