“A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient”
-2 Tim 2:24
NOT OUR TIME, BUT YOURS GOD.
Stepping into the unknown can bring a roller-coaster of emotions. Whenever you think your plans are going well, you might find peace in the security of your agenda. But, what happens when your plan doesn’t work out? What do you do in a times like this?
In June we had the great opportunity to work with an 18-member mission team from First Baptist Church Troy. This team has been the largest we have hosted so far, so this was a new challenge for us. From their side, Guatemala was not the destination they had been planning to go. Most of our friends from Troy’s team had been serving in Nicaragua for more than 4 years in a row. So, they thought this year was not going to be any different.
If you are aware of Nicaragua’s political situation, you might have heard from the news and social media that the country is facing a very violent situation. People are fighting for their voices to be heard and their rights to be fulfilled, but they have not yet found an answer. There have been hundreds of deaths. The situation is heartbreaking, and it goes beyond our understanding. Although, in the midst of all this pain for our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua, we still put our trust and hope in Christ. We stand firm in the truth that Jesus Christ conquered death and that one day we will be with our Heavenly Father in a place where there will be no more death, no more sadness, no more crying, no more pain, all of this will no longer exist. God himself will wipe every tear from the eyes of His people (Rev. 21:4).
Due to this situation Troy’s trip to Nicaragua was cancelled out of concern for safety. Troy’s team was confused and sad because they had planned this trip several months in advance. Troy’s team gathered to pray for Nicaragua and to seek God’s will regarding their mission trip. Every member felt that God was telling them to GO, but they didn’t know where. A member of the group remembered her friend from college who had started a ministry in Guatemala. God put in her heart to contact her and ask if they receive mission teams. This friend is Lia Lamberth, co-founder of Chosen People International. Lia talked with our Church Partnerships team about the possibility to host a team for a week having only 3 weeks to plan and get everything ready to serve alongside a large group. We prayed for guidance to know the best way for Troy’s team to serve the local church in Guatemala.
TROY PARTNERS WITH MONTE BASAN
Jose, Co-Director of Church Partnerships, contacted Pastor Neftali to ask how we could serve his church and community. Pastor Neftali was one of the first pastors who participated in our pastoral training program. He has been a pastor at Monte Basan for more than 6 years. He lives with his 3 young daughters who are part of the worship team and the children’s ministry. Pastor Neftali’s wife passed away few years ago. Despite the hard situation of loosing a wife and mother, we were all encouraged to hear their testimony on how they have relied on God’s love, strength, and provision.
Monte Basan is around 75 members. It is located in Villa Hermosa, Guatemala City. We noticed that Monte Basan is a very united and organized community of believers who take care of each other. Another thing we noticed was that the youth in the church are very active, working within the ministries of the congregation.
WORK THROUGHT THE WEEK
Visiting the community
In the mornings, along with leadership from Monte Basan, we did intentional home visits around the community to meet with people who had gone to church but stopped going, or to meet with people who needed prayer because of a current difficult situation and to invite them to come to church. We learned a lot from the people we visited. Their testimony of faith and trust in God was so encouraging and moving to all of us. They are hardworking people who are just like us: striving to honor God in their daily life schedules.
Welcoming the children
We conducted VBS every afternoon for around 85 children from ages 4-18. We started the VBS singing and dancing with fun songs and choreographies. For the Bible lesson, the kids enjoyed learning and watching a performance of Joseph’s story and memorizing Bible verses. After this, the group was split into 3 smaller groups by ages to play games. The little kids (ages 4-7) left the big room to work on crafts and play. The older kids (ages 8-18) stayed at the big room to participate in a contest game, where girls and boys tested their knowledge about the Bible lesson against each other. It was a lot of fun! Children also have a competitive spirit! We finished the afternoon with a healthy snack and prayer.
Reflecting His image and glory
Sunday afternoon, Troy’s women had a special time meeting with girls from Monte Basan and the community to talk about their value in Christ. Every girl received 2 handmade dolls by ladies from Troy’s church. One doll was for them to keep and the other one was to share what they learned with a best friend or a relative. We learned that our physical appearance, what we have, or our nationality does not define our value before God. We have been made in His image and He has chosen us; therefore, we are worthy in Him.
Training the church
While the girls where having the dolls activity, the men from the church had a training session about “how to shepherd like Jesus.” It was great to see that the men were very open to learn and ask questions during this training.
Worshipping the One, True God
Tuesday evening, we were part of the worship and prayer service that Monte Basan holds every week. It was a wonderful time singing in two different languages, yet we felt as one body worshiping the same God. During our prayer time, Monte Basan prayed for the needs of Troy and then Troy prayed for Monte Basan’s needs. The worship service was a time for recharging our batteries to continue with the week.
Meeting some needs
The men helped build a kitchen and a bathroom on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the church. They had to carry concrete building blocks, mix concrete and learn to use tools they’d never used before.
Thursday was a long-emotional day. We started the day doing our last home visits. We had a delicious lunch that the ladies from Monte Basan cooked for us. We did our closing activity for VBS. Every kid that attended VBS over the week was given a personalized diploma. We invited their parents to see their children receiving a diploma for their wonderful behavior and participation through the week. The last activity with Monte Basan church was a doctrine service, where a member of Troy’s team preached about the importance of faithfully going to church and serving in church. Monte Basan leadership surprised us both, Chosen People and Troy team, giving each one of us a diploma as recognition for our work with them. It was hard saying good-bye to our friends from Monte Basan, but it was also a joyful moment because we know that our family in Christ is bigger now.
SEEING HIM MORE CLEARLY
We are very thankful that as a result of the home visits, Monte Basan has decided to open weekly home Bible studies to learn more about God’s word and keep discipling the people we visited and to encourage the members of the church. Jose is now giving training sessions to the leadership of Monte Basan in order to prepare them to open these home Bible studies.
We all learned and heard God speaking to our hearts in different ways during our time serving at Monte Basan. Below are some devotional notes from a team member, highlighting some of the lessons learned about Guatemalan people and culture. We included some of his questions, so that you can meditate on them as well.
PATIENCE. How many times have we become angry at others over work or home projects when they didn’t go well, or something was messed up?
“A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient” (2 Tim 2:24)
LOVE. How often do we show others that we truly love them through acts of kindness?
“Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Rom. 12:10)
COEXISTANCE. How well do we truly coexist with our neighbors? How many times do we get ill just by being bumped into?
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:13)
SIMPLICITY. Have we allowed our life to be more complicated or busier than necessary? Are we busy with the right things?
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 19:24)
To summarize the week, we want to share this response from another member when we asked How did God speak to you this week?
“God has definitely showed me how to rely on Him totally and to fully give everything to Him. We were supposed to go to another country and that got cancelled. When we met as a team to pray about our situation and what to do, we still felt God calling us to go. God worked everything out for us to come to Guatemala and work along side Chosen People. As we went through our week, it was clear this is what God wanted us to be and showed us how beautiful it is to rely fully on Him. It was beautiful to see God working as we sing in our own language and worship the same God. It was amazing going door to door and build relationships with the Guatemalans and see how God is working in their life. It was beautiful how open and honest they were and how they cry out to God. It was very humbling. I have loved working alongside Chosen People and how intentional they are with building relationships with the people. It has really given me a new perspective on missions!”
In our last meeting with Pastor Neftali, he shared with us that for the past three years he had been asking God to send a mission team to Monte Basan. From all we learned and experienced through this week, we can only give God the glory because none us would have ever planned such an amazing week.