This has been the theme at our local church in Guatemala recently. What would the church look like if the people who attended it, not only accepted the teachings of Christ, but were actually intentional about living them out? What could this city, this country, and the world look like?
We have been blessed to be a part of “Casa de Libertad” or, the House of Freedom church in Guatemala for the past six years. It is a young church, planted 10 years ago, and its vision is to be a church that plants churches as well as a body of believers that gives glory to God through lives transformed by Jesus into lives transformed for Jesus.
For the past several years the church has held a “Dia por Guatemala” where all or most of the members would serve at a rural school or orphanage, do physical repairs and bring needed supplies. It has been wonderful to see the united effort of everyone working together. However, at the end of the day, many people left having only had a relationship with the wall they painted.
The focus this year, was to work as smaller groups that would serve at multiple locations, orphanages, schools in the slums, drug rehab centers, hospitals, churches in rural towns, etc, meeting physical needs, but most importantly, building relationships with the people they served. The hope was that this day would be a catalyst for regular, long term service that would encourage people to see missions, not just as a one day a year outreach, but as a lifestyle.
We were blessed to have two Bible study homegroups from our church choose to serve at our community center in the slums where we have worked for the past five years. Over 100 children are enrolled in our afternoon program that includes; Bible classes, prayer, typing and computer classes, tutoring and a safe place where they can come and learn in the afternoons.
We provided the outline for the VBS, and they took the lead, not just in the planning and preparation, but in the execution and running of the program.
On March 4th, over 20 volunteers showed up and served 110 children 50 parents.
The day consisted of worship and praise songs, a Bible lesson on God as the good shepherd, activates and crafts related to the class, and finally, school supplies and backpacks, donated, through a miracle, by the First Lady of Guatemala.
The worship was wonderful, the classes were excellent, and the volunteers did an amazing job engaging with the children. But for me, the best part of it was the prayer room we setup next door. We invited the parents to come in, have coffee, and talk with us about their lives, members of our church shared messages from God’s word, and prayed for them.
In one of the groups I worked with were three women, while all the ladies needed prayer for a job, mostly they just wanted to thank God for the opportunity we had given their children to learn in our afternoon program. The thanks and appreciation from each and every parent was so very touching. Our pastor came in and lead worship. It was so beautiful to see the body of Christ, worshiping and praising God together in unity. One man came up to my wife and said he had thought it was just going to be an activity for the children, but he was so grateful for wedid for him, talking the time to pray for them, talk with them and let them know that we cared.
It truly was an example of Psalms 133:1 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”
The outreach had an impact, not just on the people we served, but on those who served. There is something about getting out of your comfort zone, and serving others, that gives perspective on your own life. One of the volunteers commented to me on how much he needed this, how serving, praying and worshiping, helped him realign his perspective with what really mattered. Another told me that he couldn’t wait until next month to visit again.
1 Peter 4:10-11. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”