School administrators, superintendents and teachers alike all feel the desperation for change in Guatemalan schools. Gangs, teen pregnancy, drop out rates… Things look bleak. Without a good education, students have almost no chance to break the cycle of poverty that both causes and perpetuates these other challenges.
One of RIM’s long-time friends and ministry partners, Anibal, has focused his attention on an area called Ciudad Quetzal. Anibal has reached out to Guatemalan students with the Gospel all across the country for more than 30 years, but for the next 5 he is focusing exclusively on Ciudad Quetzal. This area has over 22,000 students and is one of the most desperate for change.
Part of Anibal’s strategic plan involves bringing RIM teams into schools to preach the Gospel. School administrators see such a benefit to their students interacting with Americans, that they gladly open their doors. In addition, even non-Christian Guatemalans realize that Christ changes circumstances and lives. They are desperate for change and our looking to Christianity.
On Monday, our team went to a school that also hosted a RIM team last March. The spring team came into the school and completed a major work project, cleaning and re-painting the entire building to make things nice for the students. A pleasant environment generally encourages and motivates kids. Whereas a dark, dirty one actually steals their hope. A nice place means that someone cares about them and wants to invest in them. That first team worked really hard, but only got to know a handful of students and teachers.
After that team left, the principal of the school felt so grateful for what the team had done, that she thanked Anibal for arranging the project. As Anibal talked with her, he offered to provide Bibles for all the students and a 30 minute daily Bible lesson curriculum for each class. Because of the that first team, the principal accepted his offer. Since March, her students have been studying the Bible regularly. Work projects matter as much as evangelism!
Enter our team… four months later, we showed up. We performed our drama, shared testimonies and spoke with students in their classrooms. Honestly, it was a challenge for us to do this because our team is pretty tired and some people were not feeling well (mostly from the busy schedule and too little sleep and being half way through the trip). However, on our way to the school, we had prayed for God’s strength and read the Bible aloud together. Our ministry that day was truly a display of being made strong with the strength of Christ.
The result? The first team’s work project opened the door for Christian curriculum. That curriculum opened the door for us to come and share the Gospel. Our willingness to rise up even when we didn’t feel strong, led to the Gospel going forth clearly. Many, many students accepted Christ on Monday afternoon!! We are overwhelmed. Our God truly uses the body of Christ together for his purposes!
Read more about what happened on Monday in this article: Fortitude & Tenacity.