Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Zone 18 in Guatemala City, Guatemala, has the highest population density in the city and maintains one of the highest violent crime rates in Latin America. The region is filled with slums and has become a place for criminal organizations and gangs to hide. Fear governs the people and finding a job is greatly hindered because of the zone’s negative reputation.
Children are high-risk for getting involved in gang activities, as Zone 18 lacks the necessary resources and protection for children to thrive. With little visible hope for a better future, despair seeps into the minds of children at an early age.
World Orphans (WO) and AMG Guatemala (AMG) are collaborating to empower the Guatemalan church to reach vulnerable children in their communities. We spent three days equipping three churches that are already making an impact in Zone 18.
AMG’s staff has taken significant time to identify churches that have already demonstrated a heart for vulnerable children and broken families. Over the past two years, they have met together, prayed, and encouraged one another in Christ. The relationship between AMG and these three churches has resulted in mutual trust and a beautiful friendship.
We kicked off the training in Zone 18 in a school classroom behind a locked gate. The room was freshly painted, and the air was sweet with joy as introductions were made and the attendees settled in for the day. Each of the pastors, their wives, and the four or five church members were engaged from the onset. We began our time together by examining the character of God and his heart for vulnerable children. This established a solid foundation for family-based orphan care ministry.
This training offered the churches encouragement, while presenting a ministry overview that will allow global partnership to begin as effectively as possible. While all cross-cultural ministries have potential pitfalls, choosing to value relationships over resources and maintain equality over superiority will help set the stage for healthy partnership to begin.
Healthy partnerships intentionally incorporate opportunities for dialogue, planning, assessing, challenging, and reflecting together in order to not fall into the superior vs. inferior trap.
In the midst of this challenging scenario, we see God working through his church. The light of the Gospel is pushing back the darkness, hope is rising, and churches are reaching out to the most vulnerable children in their communities with physical support and spiritual hope.
Following the training, one of the pastors reported, "Now we are becoming more professional in what we are doing to help the community and we feel supported.”
As the churches become inspired to reach beyond their own church walls to care for vulnerable children, the spiritual vitality of the believer tends to grow.
Jesus came to destroy the works of the enemy, and the church will prevail. Gang activity and crime have neither disabled the love of the churches nor stopped them from moving beyond their own sense of safety and comfort. Rather, more churches are pushing back the darkness with the hope of Christ.
Until they all have homes!