Mission Spotlight: Guatemala

1805The Crossing became involved in Guatemala through the work of Dr. Jim Gamble an optometrist who had for many years been leading eye glass teams to Chichicastenango (often called Chichi) where they served with ASELSI (Equipping the Saints International). Now, each year, The Crossing sends short-term mission teams to serve in a host of different capacities from construction to running pastor’s conferences to medical care.

Ron and Sally Widbin, members of The Crossing were so captivated by Guatemala that they moved to Chichi to serve as full-time missionaries at ASELSI. Together they coordinate the short-term teams. Ron also uses his extensive feature reporting experience to tell the stories of ASELSI. Sally is also the director of Jesus’ Little Lambs Center. Watch for a missionary spotlight about them in coming weeks.

ASELSI ministries include:  

We have had the privilege of seeing over 1000 students who have graduated or are now taking our courses. It has been our joy to see lives, ministries, and even whole villages transformed by the power of God. Our students are humble men and women who absorb our teachings with intensity and immediately look for ways to DO what they have learned. We are in very fertile ground and those who are sowing into the ministry are sowing where the Lord is blessing. Thanks to all the prayers and very faithful givers, we will see more fruit than ever in the future.

  • 1819The Father’s Heart Medical Care Clinic: Most of these programs don’t exist anywhere else in the Chichicastenango/Quiche´ area.  This clinic has over 13,000 visits per year and serves people who would not otherwise be able to receive medical services:
    • General Medical Consults
    • Pharmacy
    • Laboratory Exams
    • Prenatal Care
    • Chronic Care: diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy…
    • Milk Program
    • Newborn Exams
    • Gynecology
    • Optometry
    • Center for Physical Motor Assistance (CAF)
    • Orthopedics – 2 visiting orthopedic doctors and a prosthetic specialist come once a month
    • Surgeries for children with physical disabilities
    • Jesus’ Little Lambs Center for learning and physically disabled children
  • The Discipleship Program:2098
    • The Crossing supports Pastor Miguel Angel who leads ASELSI’s discipleship ministry.
    • After seven years of developing this discipleship program in the Chichicastenango area:
      • there are now 15 churches in 13 communities using the program
      • the discipleship program is helping over 360 people walk out a growing faith in Christ alongside other believers
      • the discipleship curriculum we use is based on the High Quest Discipleship Series. [This series has also been used by men’s groups at The Crossing.]
      • Through weekly gatherings, prayer and Bible study, Pastor Miguel Angel has seen pastors, who were skeptical of the program at first, say that it is making a difference in the lives of their people.
      • Pastors report that those in the discipleship program have a greater hearts to serve, show more interest in being involved in God’s work through the church and in their own families.
    • Goals of the program:
      • To know and understand one’s strengths and weaknesses so we can help each other serve the Lord and others.
      • To study God’s word together and establish a habit that helps mature and grow participants in the Word of God.
      • To develop accountability and relationships that help the disciples overcome difficulties and rejoice in each others’ successes.

ASELSI History:

ASELSI was founded by John and Sharon Harvey 22 years ago. Read more of their history here.

1208Throughout their time in Chichicastenango, the Harvey’s have seen the Lord’s hand in provision, favor and the wonderful opportunity to present God’s word and truth to thousands of Mayan Quiché Indians through the Bible Education and clinic programs. They have hosted hundreds of people through Short-Term Mission teams and have seen these people reach out to the Guatemalans and have their own lives changed by doing so.

The ASELSI team has grown to include 19 full-time national workers, 17 part-time national workers, 45 volunteers working in Guatemala and our extensions , 6 missionary couples plus families and 3 single missionaries. ASELSI now has Bible Extensions in Guatemala, southern Mexico, Ecuador, Texas, Florida and Venezuela.

More info about Guatemala:
Guatemala is a beautiful country with diverse topography and ecosystems. It is known for its tropical forests, its Mayan heritage  and archeological sites, bi-coastal resort/port locations and historical tourism in the colonial city of Antigua, which is recognized by UNESCO Cultural Heritage. Guatemala is also known as a prime location for immersion-Spanish language education.

guatemala-open-market-in-front-of-church-in-comalapa-725x483Chichicastenango is well known for its famous market that takes place on Thursdays and Sundays. Mayan handcrafts sold at market include pottery, textiles and carved wooden masks used in traditional ceremonies. The 400 year old Catholic church of Santo Tomás is also famous in Chichi. It was built on top of the platform of a Pre-Columbian Mayan temple. Its 18 steps are from the Mayan Temple and represent each month of the Mayan calendar. These steps are still venerated as a site for traditional Mayan rituals carried out by K’iche’ Maya priests where incense is burned and animal sacrifices/burnt offerings occur.

The practice of blending two opposing religious belief systems is known as syncretism. For an overview of Maya-Catholic syncretism, read this Moon travel guide article. While most Guatemalans claim Christianity there is still much ministry work to be done in discipleship and growing deeper understanding of the gospel of grace.

Compared to the US, Guatemalans on average:

  • make 89.96% less money
  • consume 90.69% less oil
  • use 95.43% less electricity
  • are 16.67 times more likely to have HIV/AIDS
  • are 3.8 times more likely to die in infancy
  • die 7.82 years sooner

Religious Demographics:

  • 16.48 million people total
  • 59 people groups
  • 96% Professing Christian
  • 22.5% Evangelical

Sources:
http://www.aselsi.org/home
http://joshuaproject.net/countries/GT
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guatemala
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chichicastenango
http://www.ifitweremyhome.com/compare/US/GT
http://moon.com/2014/02/religion-in-guatemala-mayan-spirituality-catholicism-and-christianity/

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