The warm morning sun peeked over the distant mountain ridge, destroying the thick darkness of night that covered San Bartolomé early Sunday morning, June 18. The sun awakened the new day, urging everyone out of dreamy bliss to the excitement of what this day would hold. First came the merchants, driven by their lust for money. They rose bright and early, soon appearing in the market. Maybe today they could hit it big. Then the customers arrived. Might there be a large discount this Sunday? Blindly they bartered and bought. Some left happy, some left sad, but none left experiencing the satisfaction that three young souls experienced that same morning.
Amalia, Zoila, and José Gabriel firmly expressed their stand against Satan and his works of darkness, committing their lives to God and the church for life. The seriousness of that commitment was highlighted as Stephen Gingrich shared a baptismal message, and was then driven home as Brother Harold Kauffman read the baptismal vows. Both young and old were faced with the question: Have we remained true to our baptismal commitment?
What a blessing to see three more youth take a stand in the midst of a world that lures youth! These three have done their part by giving their lives to God and His plan. They have chosen to take a stand for what is right. They have confirmed their relationship with God and the church through baptism. Are we willing to do our part in supporting them in prayer as they face the future?
~ Lee Burkholder
We were also blessed to have a baptism in the congregation at El Pital. Juan Pablo Soliz joined “The Good Shepherd Evangelical Mennonite Church,” increasing the membership by a third. Pray for this brother as well as his wife Maribel and daughter Bernarda. Both were in the same instruction class, but decisions on their part excluded them from being baptized.
Visiting A Country Christian School
Let’s go visiting across the vales and winding turns of the desert terrain of Mixcolajá. An American might think it’s a no man’s land! I was a wide-eyed passenger in a mission truck Brother Ross was driving. Minutes went by with no road signs to rely on, but by God’s grace we made it!
Well, Ross Good had some administrative errands to do in western Guatemala, so I decided to go along as a camera man and get a taste of country life. We arrived at dusk at Pastor Humberto Mux’s place and stayed for the night. What grand meals we had! Supper was tortillas and eggs and Christian hospitality. Breakfast was warm cream of wheat served in a mug with oven baked bread.
School started at 8:30 AM. Soon after the first class of the day I, the photographer, came visiting, taking a moment to see the class in action. The children cooperated very well and I was able to get nice, smiling, group photos of them.
This was where my heart was touched the most seeing dedicated Guatemalan youth teaching Christian values in a one-room school. Yes, here is the core of the future of MAM: the children of today, the youth of tomorrow! These are our future ministers, farmers, and teachers. May they grow into men and women of faith.
The Biblically based, character-building curriculum we’re used to is a blessing; we can benefit from the foundation laid by past generations. But for your brothers and sisters in Guatemala, it’s a much different story. They are laying the first layer of the foundation, learning how to be a Christian in their culture. Let’s not forget to pray for the schools of Mixcolajá and San Bartolomé, that they would not lose their zeal for spiritual things.
Quote: “There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live” – James Adams.
What value do you place on Christian education?
The next time you travel to Guatemala, consider visiting the little country schools and see the zeal and fervor of the teachers teaching the lessons well. Pray that sufficient funds and godly, certified teachers can continue to be found.
~ Darvin Diller
But God – Editorial
But God. This statement has caught my attention for a long time. We live in a self-centered world. From our birth until our death, we have to deal with ourselves and those around us. If it were not for the influences God has put in our lives, we might never seek or serve Him. “But God” placed me with godly parents who wanted their children to be Christians. “But God” called me personally, and I made that choice. “But God” placed me in a congregation where even the youth were expected to have an active part in church activities. “But God” gave me the opportunity to attend a winter Bible School. “But God” allowed me to serve alternate military service in I-W where I could attend conservative churches. “But God” gave me the gift of a special life companion who desires to serve God. “But God” allowed us to attend a mountain mission church the year after we were married. “But God” called us to the ministry at an early age . . . and the story could go on and on.
You could mention your own experiences of how—in ways not of your choosing—God shaped you into who and where you are today. But others have made choices that left them where they did not expect to be. They are left trying to explain to themselves, their friends, and their family why they are there.
I believe that in love and mercy, God has given us all opportunities to choose rightly. No, not all have had the same situations, but when God is allowed in the picture, He provides in marvelous ways.
God didn’t plan salvation simply as a means to escape eternal separation from Him, but so that we could experience joy in serving Him. God gives victory over sin and a position above the worldly life. Eph. 1:14 tells us that the Holy Spirit is a down payment of future joys, but even more, that He is a present power to overcome the old life and is an interpreter of spiritual things. (John 14:26)
When I see the spiritual bondage to Satan that many experience, it makes me appreciate all the more the Biblical influence in my life. Then I wonder, In whose lives am I leaving a God-fearing influence? I trust that by our conversations, our business transactions, and our priorities in daily living, people may see Christ living within and directing the choices we make.
Especially sweet to our small congregation in Santa Rosita are periods of Christian fellowship with other brothers and sisters. To hear their experiences and successes (and failures) encourages us to continue in the way and encourage them as they encourage us.
These life experiences through which God brings us help us look forward to His continuing providence for things beyond this life. Sometimes we think that the things we experience in this life are long-lasting, but to think that God is preparing something for all eternity different and better than we can comprehend is awesome. We all probably have a mental vision of what we think Heaven will be like, but in actuality we’re all wrong. I’m convinced that God really can’t tell us more about the afterlife because there’s no way we can understand completely. (1 Cor. 2:9) Neither can we understand the concept of eternity, because all we now know relates to things bound to time. Even this earth had a beginning and will have an end.
“But God” is preparing for those who accept Him first as Saviour, then as Lord. His tions are not meager but rich through Christ Jesus, who was in Heaven, who came to earth to bring God to mankind, and has returned to the right hand of God to intercede for us. Hallelujah!
The words of a song have recently been on my mind: “Jesus is standing in Pilate’s hall—friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all: Hearken! What meaneth the sudden call? What will you do with Jesus?” Refrain: “Neutral you cannot be, Someday your heart will be asking, ‘What will He do with me?’ ”
“But God” may be wanting you to experience some special blessings in your life on this side of eternity. He has the locations; He just needs the person. What will you do with God?
~ Earl Barnhart
Lirio de los Valles
We would like to begin a series of articles about the different churches under MAM in Guatemala. We hope that by sharing some history, current situations, and needs within the different churches you will have a better understanding of each and be better equipped to pray for each of the churches.
The church whose name in English means “Lily of the Valley” began with the founding of Mennonite Air Missions in Guatemala City, when two or three began to meet together in the name of Christ at Mission Headquarters.
In 1971 Harold Kauffman was searching the Prensa Libre (the local newspaper) for a place to begin a work in Guatemala and found a banana warehouse up for rent. For two years they rented the property, then decided to buy it.
Brother Harold served as pastor and bishop of this small congregation for the first nine years, assisted by several lay brethren. They met in a small room at Headquarters until the adjoining lot was purchased in 1980 and a chapel was built. In 1981, when all foreigners were advised to leave the country due to the violence, Brother Harold left with his family, leaving Brother Victor Ovalle to pastor the congregation. During this time the church received its name.
In 1983, after things were calmer, Mark Gingerich returned to help with leadership responsibilities for three years. When Duane Eby and family arrived in 1986, he helped pastor the flock in the city. Although he spent a few years serving in an outpost, he spent most of his time in the city until leaving the country in 2004.
Brother Jorge Ávila was ordained deacon in 1991, and Brother Daniel Ticas was ordained as a second deacon in 2003. Both of these men are still faithfully fulfilling that office today. Brother Byron de la Rosa was ordained minister in 2005 as the third of the four native brethren currently in leadership, and Cesar Vásquez was commissioned minister in January of 2012. Throughout this time North American leadership was still involved. Mark Gingerich and Brian Yoder served the church until Brian left in April of 2012 and Mark moved to Peru for one year in September of 2013. Byron was left to serve as lead pastor beside the other three Guatemalan brethren.
The congregation completed the construction of a new chapel, about a two-minute drive from Headquarters, in March of 2012.
Sunday morning service starts at 9:00 with Sunday school, followed by a message. Afternoon services are sometimes held in homes, especially of those unable to attend, to encourage them and give their neighbors an opportunity to get to know the congregation.
A recent blessing was to see Walfred Reynosa baptized and received into fellowship. Currently there are six young people in instruction class and thirtyeight members. Attendance on a Sunday morning is often fifty-five to sixty.
The church is striving to become self-supporting. It was a blessing to see a recent church repair project be totally covered by the local congregation, although it would appear small to many of us ($400). Although the church leadership is Guatemalan, the North Americans who work for the mission are considered active members along with the rest, and their help and support in the congregation is greatly valued.
We invite your prayers for this group in the city. Pray especially that those who only attend on Sunday mornings would also attend and support other church services. Pray for men like Alan Paniagua. He suffers much pressure to do evil from friends and family that live with him, yet he desires to be firm in the faith.
Pray that he would come to maturity in his life. Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit, that the whole church would be involved in spreading the Gospel message and in teaching and discipling others in the path of Christ. May each do his part so the Kingdom may continue to be built.
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he may send forth laborers into his harvest.
~ Galen Miller
Jacinda Good arrived on April 10 from Myerstown, PA. After spending a week with the Isaias Muñoz family in Oratorio and some hard hours in Spanish school, she headed to El Chal to serve as nurse in the clinic and to enjoy the challenges of life in northern Guatemala.
Five days after Jacinda arrived, David and Linda Peachey came to serve as houseparents in Guatemala City. They come to us from the Beth-el Mennonite congregation in Belleville, PA. David has already blessed us by using his concrete and masonry skills on small repair jobs around Mission Headquarters. They plan to serve here until October.
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