The look on Pastor John Churchill’s face said it all. Our tire was just inches from taking us to eternity but we are joyful to say we made it safely to our destination! We have been on a vision trip in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, a very beautiful part of the country, to visit three villages that are potential sites for future mission trips. Pastor John Churchill, Evan Rees, Dr. Emilio Lopez and Mark Macgowan traveled with a multi-church vision team in a five-car convoy on bumpy dirt roads through the mountains of Guatemala. This team was hungry to see how God could use Christ Journey Church and other North American church mission teams to partner with local community church councils in the mountains of Guatemala to help indigenous groups advance the Gospel through helping meet local needs.
We visited three communities in the Western Highlands: Vista Hermosa, El Pajal, and Rancho Viejo. The exciting part of the partnership with 410 Bridge (see 1 Peter 4:10 “using our gifts to serve others”) is its perspective to require the establishment of a leadership council consisting of leaders in churches who work with other community leaders. This council helps to create an ownership of the needs that are identified in the community, which is a different model than the one in which short-term teams come in to do “for” (or even “to”) the community rather than “with” the community.
We met with leadership councils that determined the priority needs in the communities. For example, for El Pajal the needs identified were water, education, and youth recreation. In all communities we visited schools and health clinics, and did a few home visits. It was the home visits which were the most emotionally touching because we could see the incredible physical needs of the families.
All three communities had important medical needs with only a nurses’ aide available to manage health issues. The closest hospital is four hours away. Some communities had only a portion attending elementary school with only a small percentage completing school. Despite the great needs, through the preliminary work of 410 Bridge and its partners, the communities have brought community members together to begin the process of growth and change. Although poor in resources, they were rich in spirit. In particular, the community warmly welcomed us and the kids were excited to play with us. It is exciting to see how Christ Journey could be a part of helping the remote Highland communities in Guatemala come together in Christ to improve the basic life needs of their people.
Please visit 410bridge.org for more information on this new Christ Journey Global Mission Partner.