From the Field | Transformation in the Heart of Guatemala
The transformation taking place in Guatemala is unlike any I’ve ever seen.
Over the past number of days, I have been reminded of the incredible ways your generosity has literally changed, impacted, and saved the lives of thousands in this small nation.
Life-threatening sickness and poverty are the norm here with 7 out of 10 indigenous people living in abject poverty—but despite all odds, transformation is happening.
World Help has worked extensively in the last few years to bring sustainable development to rural Guatemalan communities. Our Village Transformation initiative is a perfect example of this—connecting North American churches with rural villages in Guatemala, allowing them to partner together, build relationships, and develop life-changing infrastructure.
The result is nothing less than miraculous.
By working together, churches, schools, and clean-water wells have been constructed, and healthcare and spiritual development has improved dramatically. I wholeheartedly believe that when the physical and spiritual needs of these rural villages are met, the destructive cycle of poverty that has spanned generations can be broken.
This week, I had the privilege of leading a group of five pastors from the U.S. to experience this transformation themselves. The poverty we saw was staggering, but we knew there was hope.
Pastor Rick Soto prays for a woman suffering with health issues
in a village called El Nacional.
Pastor Sherwood Lancaster with a malnourished child in critical condition
brought in by our Baby Rescue team.
So many children in Guatemala face inconceivable hardship.
Nothing epitomizes this suffering more than what we saw at one of the local dumps where World Help operates a feeding program. Here, families gather—the older children help their parents sort through piles of rubbish in search of food while the younger ones wander aimlessly in constant danger of open fires. It’s no place for children, let alone adults. Yet an entire community of people are surviving there . . . literally living on trash.
When our team watched these children with very little clothing, dirty faces, and matted hair . . . we saw no hope in their eyes.
But we also witnessed what sponsorship can offer these children. World Help child sponsors have impacted many families at this dump. It’s amazing the confidence and dignity these children show after being enrolled in our program. There is opportunity for them—a life liberated from poverty. Our prayer is to bring transformation to every child living at this dump.
I see the same transformation taking place through our rescue program. This week, we brought severely malnourished children from nearby mountain communities to our rescue center for rehabilitation. These babies are so fragile—sometimes I fear even lifting them—and the pain in their eyes is almost unbearable.
But within 24 hours, after being hydrated, fed, and treated for parasites, they showed astonishing improvement. This program is literally rescuing malnourished and diseased children from death’s grip . . . raising them back to life.
Earlier this week, I had the privilege of joining World Help’s Vice President Tom Thompson and Advisory Board Chairman Tony Foglio in a World Help church-planter training seminar. Nearly 250 pastors and leaders from all over Guatemala attended. The passion of these Christian leaders was incredible.
God is accomplishing the miraculous through World Help’s global church-planting network. We partnered to launch 6,700 new churches in 2014 alone!
My favorite moment of the seminar was meeting a former member of the Guatemalan drug cartel who had given his life to Christ and is now planting churches.
This is what true transformation looks like!
Slowly but surely, Guatemala is making progress . . . lasting progress. By purposefully investing, we’re witnessing families and communities who continue to experience long-term results.
This is transformation . . . this is hope.
We need more individuals who will serve as the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus in Guatemala. The harvest is ripe in this fertile nation . . . the time to invest is now.