Monday, March 18, 2019

Where the Battle Lies

     The purpose of our Bible Institute isn’t just to have people who know more about their Bible, it is to have people trained to teach the Bible to others. The 3 families that have graduated so far, are in full time ministry. 2 are pastoring new missions, and one is our dean of students. Their experiences so far are helping us learn how to better aid our students as they graduate and then transition into ministry. There are 4 couples and a single guy scheduled to graduate this year. One couple is staying and in charge of translation work and teacher training in existing churches.

   It’s a tricky situation because legally you have to join a pastors association to form a church, but these pastor associations have become political machines that tax churches rather than helping them. They are also full of syncretism and idolatry where half the pastors are also the village witch doctor. There is a significant lack of biblical training. Not all of the churches involved are corrupt though. Many are sincerely searching for truth and know the current system is failing them. Many call into the Institute desiring a pastor who can lead them to the Truth. In one such church, La Balza, Jimmy and Elias were able to lead them to Independence. They legally formed an independent association just for their church. This allows them to pick their own pastor and also frees up their money to be used to reach the unreached villages around them. 
Taking 1st Semester Finals
   La Balza has relationships in 7 of these unreached villages, and have 1-3 people in each village who have accepted Christ because of their witness and radio station. This became an obvious partnership, to have our 3rd year students begin formal works in these villages. As each church is formed, each will create their own independent association.

   The 3rd year students are visiting their assigned village once a month during their final year at the institute. They spend Saturday traveling, Sunday preaching in the village, and Monday traveling back to the Institute. Our prayer is that their hearts will be tied to these people and their need and that they will leave straight from graduation to pastor in these villages. 

   The village of Purulá has 30 families and only one Christian. It is hard to get to (hour and a half walk from the road) and even harder to live there. During the dry season, the people get all of their water from a cave. They have to walk down 36 meters of steps to get to the water. The people take turns, 4 families at a time, carrying down their laundry, washing their clothes and then coming back up to switch with four other families who take their turn.

   Henry and Teodora visited this village this month. They just got married in December, so since they don’t have to carry kids with them, we thought the young couple could handle the hardship of travel and carrying their water. It was a hard first weekend. The Christian family was open, but didn’t want to take them anywhere else because the people in the village can be hard and closed. We thought they would be discouraged so after the visit we talked with them alone. Teodora said, “I knew who I was marrying and the call he has. If this is where God wants us to go, I’ll go there with my husband.” Henry said, “Yes it’s hard. But how are they going to hear about God if I don’t go? I’m motivated by how lost they are, not discouraged about how hard it is.”

   The village of Ak’ Tela’ has 400 families. It’s more of a town than a village, even though it’s 3 hours from the highway. There are 3 Christians in the village, so we sent Giovani, his wife Angelina with their 9 month old Joel, and our only single 3rd year student, Gerson, to this village. Gerson is one of the vocalists in our church, so the Christians asked him to sing a Christian song. They didn’t know any. He sang two and they asked for more until he ended up singing our entire songbook to them. Then he taught the kids while Giovani taught about the Bible. The Christians there were very happy about what they learned that day. They said that no one had ever opened up the Bible to them like that. 

Mari y Jackson
Rodrigo and Mari went with their 2 year old Jackson to La Balza, the mother church of all of these missions. The pastor of La Balza took Rodrigo to the village of Joventé on his motorcycle. It has 50 families and 2 Christians. There is some dispute about the land that was bought for a church building, so we are not sure if they will continue there or not, mainly because La Balza is putting a lot of pressure on Rodrigo to visit them every month rather than Joventé because they want more Bible training. Unless he becomes their pastor, we don’t want to continue down that road, because without the authority that comes with being the pastor, you can’t change much in an existing church. Please pray that God gives wisdom in the situation.  

    This is a fluid situation, depending how a village responds and how God leads each student. I listed all of their names so that you could pray for them specifically. Satanic attacks are common, he wants to keep these villages as captives in the kingdom of darkness, so please lift them and this work up in prayer! Thanks!

Friday, February 22, 2019

What Tools Would It Take To Reach the Rest of the Kekchi?

Missions is a third year class at the institute. Is is a study on cultures and what missions strategies have been effective and which ones have been destructive. One of the weeks Jimmy assigns them a chapter from Steve Saints book, The Great Omission, about dependency. They were to answer the question: "What are the tools the Kekchi need to reach and disciple the rest of their people without any outside help."
3rd year students. There are also 2 more wives and 2 kids that travel with them.
We really like Giovani's answer, he put a lot of thought into it and I think it could be really effective. I wanted to share it here:

1. Radio: We have a little radio that reaches 5 kilometers. For anything larger than that, you are required by law to buy a $125,000 radio frequency. That frequency would give us the license to build a tower and infrastructure to reach from Mexico to Belize covering all of the unreached areas. (Petén alone makes up 1/3 of the entire country of Guatemala.) This is something we want to do in the next 5 years. It would probably be pretty easy to get the equipment donated once we had the frequency. The guys here enjoy this kind of work and are already familiar with how to put together broadcasting. We would also put many of our Institute classes over the airwaves so that every person would have access to reliable Bible teaching.
Assigning villages for 3rd year students to work in during their final year of classes.
2. Cars: It is so difficult for them to get around. Each time our 3rd year students visit the 3 villages they have started in, it's costing the institute $400 round trip. We are looking into purchasing motorcycles for them instead but we don't like the idea of wives and babies traveling on the motos too. After paying micros to take them to the main town, they have to pay a private vehicle to take them out as far as possible, some still have to walk another hour and a half to get to their mission. 

3. TV Station: Giovani was sad because as tv's are becoming more popular in villages, usually in tiendas, so many false messages about God are being spread. All "Christian" messages are preached by tel-evangelists asking poor Kekchi people for "seed money" and promising big returns. He wanted someone to share the truth through this medium. I don't know about a TV station, but I think a YOUTUBE channel and a Facebook page where people could hear truth relevant to their culture and share it with others would be really effective. Nearly every family has a smartphone now. The phone company here offers free internet for the FB app.

There is one video some organization did about condoms that is all in Kekchi. Even though we don't agree with the message, it was really well done. That got viewed and shared thousands of times on Facebook because it was cool to see Kekchi people speaking Kekchi in a video. We want to connect with someone who could train our students how to put together quality videos with an iphone or some other basic equipment that would be a realistic sustainable ministry for the nationals here. 

Something no one mentioned but we believe is a big need is the Bible put into the alphabet they learn in the schools. We have been working on the permission for that for quite some time. We (the institute) have already started translating study materials. We will be working on that until we're dead!

So these are some of our next ministry goals. Maybe you have expertise, experience, or an idea in one of these areas. We would love to hear from you!
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