Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The First Ones There Have to Clear a Path

What God put in our hearts to do was to go where there was no Gospel witness. What we have learned so far is that it is very different from going somewhere that already has a Gospel presence, no matter how small that may be. You start from zero. You don't get any disgruntled Christians from other works or Christians who attend the first couple months to help out your new little work. You start really below zero... in the red because a place without God is a stronghold of Satan. There is a very strong resistance to Him entering. Those against you may not even know why they hate you, but they are not God's so Satan can have his way with them.

Each person that comes has to be introduced to the Bible, and this God who they really knew nothing about beforehand. Then they can be walked through the plan of Salvation. If they accept Christ then they can be discipled. What I am saying is that this is a very long process. Even after a year you may have a handful of baby Christians... baby Christians who are persecuted for their new faith. It is tough on us, but that pales in comparison to what they go through being rejected by their family and friends. It's hard to pry open the door of a fortress of Satan. It makes him angry.

This past Sunday while Jimmy was there for a discipleship class, he was served the now all too familiar "we don't want you in here anymore" papers.

It was the most unofficial document we have seen since moving here and Guatemala loves the officialness of their papers. It was all hand written. Some of the signatures were legible, some were a fingerprint for those who are illiterate, and then there were about 20 that were just scratches. There ended up being 57 signatures in all which would make a majority, but that many people did not attend the meeting. One of our people told us that they regularly sign people's names to things to get whatever number of people they need. He read it just to make sure no one added his name since it had been done before. That might explain the unrecognizable signatures.

The reasons it gave for not wanting us there anymore were:
1. From the beginning we brought our religion in with us. (I have grown to loath that word only because of the way it gets used around me.)
2. We are a security threat. (This is a result of the very common rumor about gringos kidnapping children that someone started about us. That is one way they try and scare Kekchi people away from attending.)
3. We do not treat all the children equally. (I guess this is because we only give Bibles to kids 9 and up who can read. I also have reward parties for those who earn points for doing their devo sheets and memorize verses.)
4. We cause division. (There is no basis for this that I can even contrive or make sense for in my head. We do not go door to door. We do not pressure people to come to our studies. We do not pressure people NOT to do things either.)
Honestly these are all so awesome I can't pick a favorite.

Here are all the people that came to our adult/teen Bible study Monday night. I was so thankful for them. They know what is going on and all the controversy surrounding us and they were not ashamed! I wanted to hug them all!
These 3 men who sat in front of me make up a pretty spectacular row. It was Fabio, who gave us the land and is the least favorite person in the community right now (behind us of course); Lico, who is working on our building (that is why he was there. He is an old friend who accepted Christ in NH); and José (he's 50+, but looks like a teen in this photo), whose wife is basically the matriarch of the Kekchi in the community and is against us, but he comes anyway (He has been away working and this was his first week back)! This row tells a story, but I was so thankful to see it because I felt like this was God showing us that He wanted us there because of men like these. Missions works!

After talking with our people we were very encouraged. There is nothing true in the letter to begin with. As for #1, we were given permission by the town council to hold our Bible study on 2 different occasions. #2, is absolutely disgusting. #3, we just gave school supplies to every student in the school, so it is a little hard to say we discriminate. #4, there's no proof of this one either. Secondly the letter is completely worthless since it goes against the law of Guatemala.

Our people wanted us to get a lawyer involved to settle this once and for all. Jimmy met this morning with our lawyer and he said basically the same thing, the paper is worthless and what they are trying to do is illegal. He wants to wait to get involved until they have some action rather than just words... lovely, especially since he added that we are crazy for trying to work with them. He said, "They are problem people." (I want to add that most of them are wonderful people that we really do care about.)

There will be a town meeting Saturday about us. Jimmy will be allowed to speak. We are SO thankful for this. This whole ordeal is different from NH in several ways. (I'm very numbery today) 1. The original land owner is very supportive of us. 2. Jimmy gets to speak and defend ourselves. 3. We have a lot more supporters and even Christians in SR. 4. We feel like more of the leaders in the community want us there (even if they are quiet about it, they are not openly against us.) 5. We do not fear for our safety nor have we received any personal threats.

And one last thing. All of this from what we can tell is being instigated by one person. We know who it is. Please pray for her. Her name is Rosa. Her heart is so hard. God has been known to use hard hearts to make his power known (Ex. 7).


  1. Jim and Shelley while you may feel alone in this battle sometimes, know that there are those back home and around the world who love you and pray for you!! It is hard and you've seen it firsthand. You're doing something right or you wouldn't be facing the opposition that you are. Love you guys and am praying!!! Isaiah 41:13

    Cynthia Castillo

  2. You guys must be doing God's will, because Satan is working hard trying to stop it!

  3. Oh, I'm praying so hard for you guys right now! I'm so thankful for you, and I can't wait to see what God is going to do through all of this. The other two comments on this post are so very true. Be encouraged. And I know you probably shouldn't hug them, but tell Lico and Fabio and Aaron and Mercedes and Mateo and everyone that I said hi and that I'm praying for them too.

  4. We will be praying fervently for you this week! Thank you for sharing so we can pray specifically.


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