By Rebecca Parra
God allowed a team from the CNBC to go to Guatemala to help Impact Ministries with the children in their schools. Thirteen people, representing four churches—Vancouver Chinese Baptist (Vancouver, BC), Cochrane Emmanuel Baptist, Bow Valley Baptist (Cochrane, AB) and Roots (Truth Baptist, Calgary, AB)—went on mission July 9–17.
Impact Ministries in Tactic, Guatemala, started with a beautiful couple called there in 2000, Les and Rita Peters. The ministry has several areas in which the Lord is constantly working.
During our time in Guatemala this year, we were able to help mostly in classrooms. Impact Ministries is providing education for around 1,500 students through ten programs from pre-kinder to high school. The children attending these schools receive much more than just education. We were able to hear many testimonies from teachers and families of the students. All echoed the same statement: God speaks through the hearts of the staff, who pour into the children in their classrooms. As the love of God flows, it reaches the families of the children who bring an unexplainable light to their homes. This is one way the evangelical churches in Guatemala are growing.
Along with worshipping with the children, we were also able to play with them. This was our chance to bond with the kids and, in truth, become one of them. They would have us participate in races and competitions and some games that were just for laughs.
In the high school, we got to see the beautiful smiles of the youth as well as their determination. They made the effort to try and communicate with people who didn’t speak their language. They even shared their passion for soccer with us. In this environment, the lives of the children and youth seemed so full of joy and hope.
But the reality is different. The majority return to homes that are broken and in need of the Gospel. Many parents struggle to make sure their children go to sleep at night without an empty stomach, while others worry about family problems. Abuse is not uncommon. Spiritual issues are a problem for some, in this place where witchcraft is popular. The fear of somebody in the family getting sick is real; we visited a hospital to pray for children who were sick or injured, and cried with some of the families. It was a place where the need for the Lord was very strong.
So how is it that we still see so many smiles on the faces of these kids?
The only way to explain it is that the Holy Spirit empowers these students who open their hearts to God. It shines through even the most unlikely person with the most unfortunate circumstances. The most beautiful thing is how contagious it is! Although I had the ability to speak the language the students were singing and speaking in, it certainly wasn’t necessary, because the Holy Spirit has a language of His own: a language that any member of the team could understand whether they spoke Spanish or not. When we left the schools, we still felt the joy that the children were feeling.
Falling in love with these people was a beautiful yet heartbreaking experience, because returning to our homes and being so far away from what we saw is difficult.
The biggest challenge when returning home is keeping that flame alive. And this is one thing that must remain very clear to us all: the flame that pushes us to share the Gospel and be witnesses does not come from an experience in Guatemala, or anybody’s experience anywhere on the mission field. For us, Guatemala was where we had the privilege to use it in a whole new way that strengthens us to keep going when we get back. But it didn’t come from there.
The flame comes from the Holy Spirit, and must be used here and now before we take it anywhere else; otherwise, there’s no point in going anywhere else in the first place. If the fire of the Gospel is not alive in us in our everyday lives, it will not be alive on the mission field.
How do we begin? Where does our ministry start? In a conversation with Les, I heard him say something I’ll always remember: Ministry is not about programs and events. Those are what we use for ministry. But what ministry really is lies in the relationships we experience through those things.
God calls us to go to the ends of the earth with His Gospel. But we must start with the relationships He has placed us in here and now. We have the power of the Holy Spirit, and that is all we need to begin.
Some students received grants from GMO to help them go on mission.
Reprinted from the CNBC Horizon - October 2018