We Just returned from 2 weeks in Guatemala with Marielos, observing, participating in and giving counsel to those we provide support for our varied programs that we have there. Best trip ever- productive, challenging, eye opening, reconnecting with old friends who are still in ministry…laughing, tearful life talks, giving and getting back so much.
We’ve served over 25 years in Guatemala in several capacities. My connection was my wife, Marielos, who is from El Salvador, and has also lived, and still has family, in Guatemala. I love the culture, the country’s natural beauty and of course the people. Many there just suffer frequently for lack. Not a fair world by any stretch. Not a place known for being kind or fair to certain segments of the 17 million that live there with over half well below the poverty line. Corruption and poverty are the enemy. And the kindest, most sincere, loving people live there side by side.
We are content with the direction we have found ourselves in there as a Christian aid organization. We are a small mission compared to some huge relief agencies. But I know this - we are highly effective. Six full-time college students are provided full scholarships to break the cycle of poverty. We have graduates to prove it. We have nutrition programs, and in some difficult cases we saw this week, literally keep people alive. Other needs were met with other incredible ministries there, and have been new avenues of God blessing them through our donors listening and giving.
Two main points here:
1. Every western Christian church should take one church in the developing world, shake hands, start with giving a little, observe the honesty and responsibility, then quickly move up a level to a hug, and make sure the pastors can pastor with enough money and resources to keep them and their family healthy and able to shepherd their people and feed and clothe their own children. This relationship between churches is not often the case. We have done and are doing this with a solid Guatemalan church, for over 10 years. Otherwise, they lack time for having to work in a full time day job and show up Sunday with excitement but fatigued.
The new church addition or paved parking lot stateside doesn’t quite compare to eating and paying a tiny rent unattainable to many Central American pastors and their families. Even with tithing, most in these local churches make less than $13 a day. It actually doesn’t take much to transform a church. You can’t believe how it can catapult a church into health and peace. So, does your church have an economically distressed church in your city, or need connection to one in the developing world that it specifically supports financially and spiritually?
2. Para-church ministries/missions work sometimes through western churches or often are self- governed. Feeding centers, medical clinics, micro-financing programs and education are only some of the various ways the lost can be reached for God around the world. Some workers are lone rangers we’ve met through the years. Some decided to just go and do what they can for the poor and took off, doing what they felt God calling them to. No mission boards cover them. Others have multiple levels of organization in and above them. They were sent by large churches and relief organizations and are covered by levels of oversight and support, while adjusting to a new world where they spend their time giving to others in many forms. Some make it 6 months. Others last forever and never return back to their homeland, spending a lifetime learning an unique culture so they can share God’s love. If they do return after years in the mission field, they often find a church stateside that has forgotten them and the mission. And they flounder.
Among the incredible missions and missionaries we have met in our decades, including Christ-like souls, are those who have left their western lives for full-time orphan and especially handicapped children/adult care.
You only have to go spend time and see with your eyes what this specialized ministry does, on what I believe is at the border between Heaven and Hell. That would be the non-stop, totally devoted, human waste cleaning, loving, corruption fighting, praying, 3am medical-emergency dealing, monthly questioning of 'why', angelic souls that have raised their hand to this nutzo position. It can even affect them physically and mentally. It always does. A return to life “back home” can seem to be calculated as nothing other than pure salvation. Their families back home question their staying. The cousins don’t know them and grandparents pass away, often without last goodbyes. They themselves question their continuing. Their children aren’t even doing the latest Tik-Tok challenge.
We are connected to such a ministry in Guatemala. These people are the real deal. In comparison, they make my posh form of Christianity seem like a Chinese knockoff of a pair of Nikes sold for $8 in Guatemala. But they have wrecked my spiritual world, as I see a different world because of them. I see that without them, the local government would cast these handicapped sons and daughters of God to sad places where quicker deaths are just inevitable. Who cares? I see God when we are there like no other place we’ve been. It’s just that simple to see.
The Bible is pretty clear about going - giving. The challenging part is the staying - burning out, from continual lack of resources. Handicapped children and adult full-time care in the developing world is toughest job in the Kingdom of God, as far as I can see from my perch well below these saints. It’s just stressful, exhausting and continues every single day. Sunday seems like a Wednesday and the “What’s a weekend?”, quote seems all too commonplace there. While at my wife’s and my level, yes, we believe we are fulfilling the kingdom of God’s mandate to go and serve and lead others to Him. We have some 20 donors that quietly give to our nonprofit and expect us to handle the details. A simple and effective model. But there is an almost forgotten area of ministry in the western Christian church that sees no connection to the cutting edge of missions.
Here’s a visual. This little girl. Daisy.
Daisy was healthy 2 years ago (see pic) and was playing with her siblings, until a series of unknown strokes and other health issues attacked her body. She wasn’t supposed to live past a couple weeks. A Christian home for the handicapped took her in and prayed over her while cleaning her up when she couldn't talk or walk. They quietly sang to her the songs that God would give them. So officials decided to do an operation which, yes, prolonged her life, but left her ailing body with nothing in quality or improved function. So she awaits to see God, now a year later. When she does see Jesus, she'll be transformed...she will then dance that dance with her new body that will give even greater glory to Almighty God. She'll talk and walk again. A missionary who gave up their life in the western world (where Taylor Swift tickets are really important) gets up at night, each night, to care for Daisy.
The church has a responsibility to never, ever let proper care for Daisy stop, with financial and prayerful support. We are grateful for our big and small churches stateside that can indeed be powerful arms of God in many areas of needed teaching, preaching and caring for others. There’s just one general ministry that is always, always lacking: caring for handicapped people.
These ministers are relegated to lives of super faith, believing God for even tomorrow’s meals, gas for their vehicles, or someone to hear from God to pay off the $25,000 medical bill that saved a child. Often these houses are sustained by many donors giving $25, $50 monthly. Most don’t have large donors able to easily write the big check to get the pressure off the servants working 18 hours a day on the ground. They are indeed servants. They serve to the point of breaking. They’re usually not fundraisers. Most hate fundraising. and they don’t have time after a 5 minute wolfing down of lunch to address the side hustle.
They live in prayer like we often don’t. They are the standard. They walk the walk. Their lives are on the line, too. They left everything behind to clean up wet beds and pray over a child in a wheelchair for a life that doesn’t communicate or walk. The love we have seen in these homes is unmatched. We have new earthly standards we fear we can never attain. But these selfless followers of God Almighty are often left to fend for themselves. As King David might say, “Selah”... "Selah...Often in times of pausing, God gives us a revelation that transforms our perspective, bringing us closer to Him." So where do you, specifically, and your church fit in here? This post, while mostly giving thanks to our own donors for helping us go help the needy of this world, is not for us this time. We ask instead for you to consider another ministry:
QUESTION: Would you prayerfully consider a generous donation to Hope For Home Ministries, in San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Sacatepequez, Guatemala? They have 3 homes on the same street that are behind in medical and ongoing general costs. They are currently fighting ridiculous labor laws that might shut them down. They’re not rich. They often go without, in fact. If you need to go see them and the many handicapped children and adults they care for personally, just provide my airfare only, and I’ll take you for 3 days. They’re not the only gifted area in God’s immense and diverse kingdom, but they’re doing OUR work. We the church need to seek them out and share the burden consistently.
Please donate to Hope For Home Ministries HOPE FOR HOME SITE