Monte de los Olivos, the second MAM church to be planted in the Quiché mountains, came to birth in 1974 after Harold Kauffman and Angel Tortula set aside a day to evaluate the possibility of planting a new church in San Bartolomé. After a long day and little acceptance from the town people, the brethren refused to be discouraged and went ahead with plans to plant the church in San Bartolomé.
The plans were put into action, and a few months later brother Victor Ovalle and his wife Anita were sent as the first missionaries to San Bartolomé, opening the doors of the third MAM church. They continued living in San Bartolomé until 1981. During their time, brother José Benito was baptized and taken in as a member. He was then ordained as pastor in 1984. He fulfilled his role as pastor until 1994, when he was given the charge of bishop. He continues to remain faithful to the Lord and has bishop responsibility of three churches.
Pastor José has lived to see a lot. For most of his time in the ministry, he has been the sole pastor of San Bartolomé, with the help of a few who have come and gone. He experienced interrogations at gunpoint during the civil war. Throughout his time the church has grown and shrunk. He remembers a time when there were seventy members; today there are twenty-eight, including three youth taken in this year. Normal Sunday morning attendance is around seventy to ninety, which reminds us of Jesus’ words in Matthew 9:37: “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.”
The church faces many obstacles. One of the big concerns is the need for more pastors. There are many active women, but few men. Who will fill the need? Another need is for school teachers next year. The next verse in Matthew 9 says, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” We would like to see a revival among the men and youth. We realize that true revival comes through the work of the Lord in one’s life. Through this verse we see that it is His job to send workers; our job is to pray. Pray with us that God would raise up men to fill the needs of the church in San Bartolomé.
To Save a Soul
Christians seek to help lost souls find salvation by being converted to Jesus Christ. This is our commission and an important part of living the Christian life. When Christians do not see results in soul winning, it dampens their enthusiasm and often leaves them with a subliminal frustration and unfulfilled desire.
Soul winning is an important topic for Christians. Methodology, programs, preparation, orientation, and doctrine are discussed again and again. But the central issue is what God can do, wants to do, is doing, and will do. Whatever the methods and programs, there is always one common factor when a soul is saved: God did it. It was God who loved the person and drew him to Himself. It is God who arranged events and experiences to move his heart. His Spirit brought conviction and entered his life at conversion. His power set the captive free.
Did Christians have a part in it? Very likely. God often uses individuals as colaborers with Him to accomplish the salvation of souls. In MAM we have seen God use Christian workers in many different ways and through various programs. Some conversions took place because of Christian neighbors. Some through attending revival meetings. Some attended a Christian school or were helped with medical needs. Some were spoken to by relatives or witnessed to in personal conversation. God uses people in diverse ways to help others see their need of Christ and become converted.
But always God was involved. This is important, because if we want to be successful at soul winning, we need faith in God, and we need to cooperate with God. We must turn our primary efforts into seeking God to do a work in people’s lives. There are billions of people on the earth, but God can turn our hearts toward the specific people He knows He can use us to touch. God knows which souls will respond to the wooing of His Spirit.
Years ago I was sitting in a coffee grove praying for a young man. It was natural that I should be interested in him since his parents were church members and he attended regularly. Yet the burden was from God, and the timing was from God. Looking down the little path that snaked up the hillside below the grove where I sat, I saw him walking towards me. We exchanged a few pleasant comments, and then I asked him the question I had been praying about: was he ready to give his heart to Jesus? Right there in the coffee grove he made his decision to become a Christian.
Not often is soul-winning that “easy”. But it always involves God working in people’s hearts, often including our own. I could not have told you that God was going to bring that young man by me in the middle of a workday afternoon with my heart and his heart prepared, but God knew. God always knows. This is why we need to look to God and seek Him.
If we want God in our soul-winning efforts we must strive to do His will. This includes a daily relationship with Him. It means we do our best to follow Him. We also acknowledge Him and ask that He guide our efforts. Because God promotes the work of a body, it means that we try to keep peace and unity in our church and our witness team, and that we specifically use prayer as a battleground to overcome the spiritual resistance that faces the soul-winning efforts we make.
If God has His rightful place in soul winning, souls will be saved.
~ Duane Eby
Various youth have come to Christ and received baptism during the last months. We would like to highlight six of these and include some details of their lives that might encourage you to pray for these and many others who are taking a stand for the truth.
Diego Maldonado is nineteen years old. His parents are Mynor Flores and Maria Luz Maldonado; he also has three brothers and two sisters, all Roman Catholics. Currently Diego is in his final year of high school studying computer with a major in business. He plans to continue studying for a university degree in educational administration.
Diego gave his life to the Lord at the Lirio congregation during revivals on February 17, 2013. His goal is to learn more about the life of Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully. He knew about the church because he went to Sunday school. When the new chapel was built, it was close to his home, and that’s how he was invited to visit us. Later, the church youth group invited him to their youth meetings. When he attended the revivals, the preaching of the Word made him feel a weight on his heart, making him rise from his place and open his heart to our Saviour. In 2014 he participated in instruction classes in order to be baptized. Today he is teaching in the Lirio church school as well as teaching the primary Sunday school class.
Blanca Juarez is twenty-five years old. Her parents are Fabian Ché and Marta Juarez. She has four brothers and four sisters, none of which profess any religion. Blanca is a school teacher and has dreams of studying for a university degree in educational administration. Blanca first gave her life to the Lord in the church in El Chal, Petén, but she made a definite recommitment at the Lirio de los Valles church in Guatemala City.
Although the Christian life has not been easy for her because of constant struggles, she is praying for the salvation of her family and wants to lead them to the feet of Jesus. Her eyes fill with tears of joy because she senses that her parents may somehow surrender their lives to the Lord; she wants that blessing for their life too. She recognizes how many other blessings are in store for her life every day, and this strengthens and encourages her faith. Blanca now lives in Guatemala City and works as a teacher in the church school; she believes that in this way she serves the Lord. She wants to be a good servant of the Lord Jesus.
Rosario Ramirez is 16 years old. Her parents are Juan Osorio and Micaela Ramirez, and she has five brothers and one sister, all of which persevere in the Christian faith. Her parents and sister are members of Lirio de los Valles Mennonite Church. Rosa, as we call her, works for her dad selling fast food from mobile units we call carretas (carts). She gave her life to the Lord on September 15, 2013, during the Youth Institute held at the MAM farm. Her goal is to faithfully serve the Lord Jesus, and she is grateful to God for what He gives her daily.
Walfred Hernandez will be fourteen years old in December. His parents are Carmelo Reynosa and Teresa Hernández, and he has two brothers and two sisters, all younger than him. His parents are members of the Lirio congregation. Currently he helps his parents at home while studying. His dream is to work as a primary school teacher. He gave his life to the Lord on September 13, 2012, at the Youth Institute held at the MAM farm, and he aims to be a useful person for the work of the Lord Jesus. Walfred is grateful to God for all He has given him, especially for parents who have been taught about the Lord Jesus. Walfred loves the church and currently supports the services as a skilled leader and chorister.
Pablo de León is fourteen years old. He lives at home with his grandmother Victoria, one brother, and one sister. His mother lives in France, and he doesn’t know where his father lives. His sister attends the church school where he attended for three years. After sixth grade, he continued his education in another private school. He is interested in studying computer repair for his future livelihood. Pablo was baptized, together with Diego and Rosario, on July 27. He wants to obey God’s commands and follow Him faithfully. He is a member of Lirio de los Valles and enjoys the fellowship he receives there, as well as spending time with the youth group.
Eduardo Rosales is twenty years old. His parents names’ are Mauricio Santos and Aura Rosales; they have eight children. His mother and two sisters are members in the Mennonite church. Eduardo was studying in a university in the Capital and one weekend decided to go home. That weekend special meetings were being held in Pital, a church nearby. He decided to go along with a group from his home area. He had no plans to become a Christian that night on January 26, but as the Lord spoke to his heart, he decided to yield himself to the call of the Holy Spirit. At first he was afraid what his friends would say, but he no longer is. Nine days after accepting Christ he decided to quit his job because he didn’t feel that he could conscientiously continue it. He is now looking for work and doing odd jobs around his home community. He was baptized in September and is part of the church in Los Achiotes. He is looking for ways to bring community people to the church. One of his goals is to visit all of the churches in Guatemala and preach that we must suffer in the Christian life.
~Byron de la Rosa (translated by Jonathan Beachy) and Galen Miller.
My Time in Guatemala
I first want to thank God for how He used this mission trip to make me more like Himself; I got to know Him better. When I think about mission life, I think of the vision one must have for the mission and for the church. The Bible tells us that where there’s no vision, the people perish. So it is important to have a vision! The missionaries also need support from people back home in what they are involved in. They need your prayers daily! I also want to thank all the MAM staff that I worked with for what they did for me while being in Guatemala and for making it a very meaningful time in my life.
~ Erwin Hostetler, a WATER student
>Mark and Norma Gingerich returned to Guatemala after serving in Peru for one year with their daughter, son-in-law, and family. Upon returning to Guatemala he had back surgery, which went well, and he is now able to walk around freely and stand up straight. We praise the Lord for the healing that He has given Brother Mark. Mark continues to serve in his bishop responsibilities over various MAM churches here in Guatemala.
Dave and Linda Peachey left the second week in October after serving for six months as houseparents at headquarters in the City. We appreciate the testimony they have left here as well as the hard work they put into keeping things running smoothly. May God bless them richly.
Of all the things a mission runs on, good staff is one of the most important. We currently have several positions either unfilled or soon to be vacated.
- Houseparents for headquarters. This is largely a hospitality job, and includes cooking, cleaning, and overseeing single staff. We really need houseparents.
- Pastor couples or families. Various locations are hurting for help, both for “unit leaders” for single staff and for church support. This is front line missionary work.
- Single men. Our single fellows do an amazing variety of important things. They usually begin in a support role, doing work projects and errands; as they are able, they’re often placed into church support roles beside a national church leader. This is challenging, fulfilling work; many who commit for a year just continue.