“Red Zone”. WARNING! Stop. Do not go any further. This is not safe. You are at risk.
All of these statements are true of Zone 18 in Guatemala City. Murder, trafficking, drugs, and other atrocities that seem to be unimaginable in everyday life are all the norm for this community.
Set amidst the dark backdrop of crime and evil, the church is a display of the hope and light of Christ. We are part of that church, the great global church that understands the depravity of man and the limitless power of Christ to overcome. The work of Christ through his church has been on display in this “Red Zone”. United in Christ, we are all connected to the glorious story taking place there.
This particular story begins on March 23, 1991, when Pastor David founded Grace and Truth Ministries Church. Now, the pastor and other members come together to lead a prison ministry to some of the largest prisons in the country. They understand that no one is beyond the grace of God. Food baskets are delivered to families in need, responding to the social needs of the community.Prayer has become a cornerstone. Pastor David and eighteen other pastors gather regularly to pray for their community. Their prayers have been answered with fewer crimes in the area and more families living in peace.
However, the story does not end there. A church from a town in Nebraska that has fewer than 2,000 people is part of this story too. Grace and Truth Ministries Church in Guatemala and Ainsworth Evangelical Free Church from Nebraska decided that doing life together was better than doing life without one another. They have been partnered through World Orphans since 2016.
After visiting Guatemala, the members of the church in Nebraska decided to raise money so that when they visited one of the schools in Guatemala for training, they could also distribute Bibles. Because of Pastor David’s influence in the community and the contribution of the Bibles, the school principal agreed to allow Bible-based teachings at the school, making an even greater impact on a community that is searching for hope.
As the school has continued to allow Christ-centered teachings, this opened the door for yet another part of this story to unfold. After hearing the powerful testimony of a beautiful, young woman, Chloe Howard, at Big Ticket Festival in Michigan, World Orphans was able to invite her to share her story of finding hope in the middle of brokenness after being bullied for a rare foot condition. In May of this year, Chloe visited this same school in Guatemala and ministered to many children.
Following Chloe boldly sharing her story of overcoming brokenness, several of the children have shared their vulnerabilities with the counselors who are part of the World Orphans team in Guatemala.
When we say “yes” to partnership, we make ourselves vulnerable in different ways, but there is beauty in unity through Christ. This beauty far outweighs the moments that make partnership difficult. The stories of the school and the church in Guatemala are not over. We have not even scratched the surface of the ripples of God’s love being felt throughout the “Red Zone”. We are not listening to the warnings. We are going further, digging deeper, and taking risks together, for the glory of God.