As we know, COVID has affected us in many ways. Here in Guatemala, the chapel doors were closed for many months.
Communities handled these shutdowns differently in different regions depending on the presence of law enforcement and what the people felt comfortable with. We praise God that things have been opening again and that most of the churches are able to meet together.
There are certainly many restrictions and requirements in place for holding services in the chapels again. Those vary from place to place.
Important services such as Communion and baptism had been waiting until things opened again. The bishops are very busy trying to catch up on all of the church work. Please pray for them as they go through this extra busy time. Following are a few events that have happened since the lockdown began lifting.
Baptism in La Pastoría
August 23 was a cloudy, dreary day in La Pastoría. Due to COVID restrictions, no services were supposed to be held, but despite the restrictions, it was the day Raymundo Rosales would be baptized. Since the baptism could not take place in a public setting, the group of about forty people gathered on Brother Francisco’s porch for the special occasion. God was merciful and held off both the rain and the police, and the baptism happened without interruption.
Communion in Mixcolajá
On September 13, the congregation in Mixcolajá was blessed and privileged to be the first of the MAM churches to have Communion since COVID started.
We are thankful that God continues to work even when we are limited. Because of His work, the church there has been growing. In recent months, eight individuals have committed to following Jesus. Pray for them as they seek to become more like Christ. Pray for the leaders and teachers as they instruct them in the ways of the Lord.
Baptism in Zaragoza
On Sunday, September 17, the Zaragoza congregation was blessed to hold a special service in which Linda Tucubal was baptized and Reina de Pichiyá was received as a member of the congregation.
God has given us the ability to sense the temperature of objects and the atmosphere around us. The ability to sense heat and cold is a gift that guards us against destroying our bodies. When we touch a hot stove or pan, we pull our hand back without even thinking about it. Doctors have learned how to use heat and cold to help cure or relieve pain in our bodies.
But what exactly is temperature? The dictionary describes it as the degree or intensity of heat present in a substance or object, especially as expressed according to a comparative scale and shown on a thermometer or perceived by touch.
When we think about the contrast in the seasons— cold and windy in the winter and hot and humid in the summer—we can see God’s wisdom in designing spring and fall to help us gradually adjust to these extreme temperatures. If we had to go from ten degrees one day to ninety degrees the next, our bodies would never be able to handle the change.
Our relationships also can be understood in terms of temperature. When someone avoids our presence or will not speak with us, we consider the relationship to be cold. When we have a vibrant relationship in which the heart’s deepest feelings can be shared anytime without fear, we consider it to be a warm relationship.
During COVID times in Guatemala, we are reminded of the importance of a normal body temperature. When we enter a store, someone is there to check our temperature to ensure that we do not have a fever. I have seen some people denied entrance to a store because their temperature was above the limit allowed.
How does God look at our spiritual temperature? Our spiritual temperature is even more important than our physical temperature. In Revelation 3:15, 16, we read that the Laodiceans were lukewarm—neither hot nor cold. God said that He would spew them out of His mouth. Our ability to sense the temperature of foods helps us understand how this spiritual condition is repulsive to Him. When we expect a certain food to be hot but find it only lukewarm, it gives us a bad taste.
Why were these people lukewarm? They were spiritually sick. They trusted in their own righteousness and didn’t even know they were sick. God’s thermometer always gives the correct reading. God, the Great Physician, also has the remedy for our spiritual diseases.
In Matthew 24:11, 12 we find another reason for spiritual coldness. The false prophets come with a feel-good doctrine that deceives their listeners about their spiritual state. Through this means, iniquity abounds and many more people are deceived.
2 Timothy 4:3, 4 also speaks of false prophets. They teach only what the people want to hear, using their own agenda to pull their listeners away from the truth and turn them to fables.
1 Timothy 4 has much to say about our spiritual temperature. This passage warns that some will be spiritually hot, but when the seducing spirits come, they will be led astray. These spirits don’t do their work in one day. There is a gradual falling away until the conscience is seared and there is no more feeling left.
How can we avoid this fate? 1 Timothy 4:13 says that we need to give attendance to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine. Our reading should always be checked with the Bible. In verse 15 we are commanded to meditate on God’s Word and to give ourselves wholly to the teachings that we find there. John 17:17b says, “Thy word is truth.” As we become familiar with the truth, it will be easier to detect false doctrines. A bank teller learns to detect fake bills by handling the real thing; when a fake bill comes, he can detect it right away.
1 Timothy 4:16—Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. As we take heed to our spiritual temperature, those that follow us will not be led astray.
As our physical bodies have antibodies to fight off sickness, there are some spiritual antibodies as well.
1 Thessalonians 5:17—Pray without ceasing. Bible reading and prayer are things that God has given us to help us keep our temperature from dropping. When Jesus was facing death, He told His disciples to watch and pray, that they enter not into temptation.
Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us the armor of God by which we can stand against the wiles of the devil. Our warfare is not against people, but against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places. Verse 18 calls us to prayer, not only for ourselves but for all saints.
Revelation 3:20, 21 shows us what a warm relationship we can have with Jesus. There we find freedom to share one-on-one our deepest cares and emotions in an atmosphere of love.
What temperature is God’s thermometer reading in my life and in your life?
Nathan and Delores Graybill
July 25 was a beautiful, sunny day in Beavertown, Pennsylvania. For Nathan Graybill and Delores Schmidt, their long-anticipated wedding day had arrived.
Sadly, because of the border restrictions between the United States and Canada, the number of guests was limited. Many of the bride’s family and friends were unable to attend. However, approximately 110 other friends and family gathered at God’s Missionary Church to witness their vows.
The couple was attended by two sisters of the bride and two brothers of the groom.
Nathan and Delores Graybill have since returned to Guatemala to continue serving with MAM. They are currently living in the mission house just down the street from headquarters. Nathan will be helping around headquarters with many of the same responsibilities he had while he was single since there are no single fellows to take on this role.