His shirt slung over his drunken shoulder, he stumbled toward home. As he staggered down the hill past our house, his song wailed out for blocks around to hear: “I’m going on a diiiiiiifferent waaaaaaay!”
Don Tulio, I thought, I wish you could truly know a different Way, the Way that another young man I know did indeed find.
That young man’s story is so different now than it was a couple years ago. I heard part of his story in a recent conversation with him. “So, I heard you deleted your Facebook account?”
“Yes.” And he promptly articulated his reasons. “It was like a vice for me. That same pull that alcohol had on me before I was a Christian is the sort of pull I felt to look at what was new on Facebook. And there was nothing good or beneficial there. I would just look to see what my friends were up to, and before I knew it, two hours would fly by. I don’t need that distraction in my life. I have work to do. I don’t judge those who have an account, but I knew that for me it was a problem, and I knew the solution. So I made my decision.”
No, his parents didn’t ask him to make that decision. No, his church didn’t speak into his life on this issue. He’d chosen a truly different Way, and this is where the Way took him. He followed, and experiences the blessings of the road less traveled.
Every year the Guatemalan churches have gathered for a time of fellowship and preaching—an event called a General Institute because of the wide variety of teaching and because everyone was invited. Attendance at these meetings has dropped over the last number of years, partly because travel cost and time away from home makes it difficult for many. Those from the most distant congregation had to travel nearly thirteen hours by vehicle and even longer by bus.
Considering these and other factors, the Institute planning committee divided the country into four regions and began a regional institute in each, instead of a general one for all the churches. The four regions include the northern region (the Petén), the western region (the Quiché area), the central region (churches near Guatemala City), and the southern region.
The results have been outstanding. As of this writing, only three of the four regions have held their institutes, but instead of the normal hundred people in attendance on a good evening, we began seeing more than one hundred and fifty at each location.
The largest institute was in the western region, held in San Bartolomé. For many years, this church has held a yearly weekend Bible conference, and this year they combined the Bible conference with the regional institute and held a longer time of meetings. Attendance was good. Noon meals were served to more than three hundred people, and more than six hundred attended the evening services, not only from the Mennonite churches of the area, but also from the community. Many souls responded to the Gospel over this time.
Pray that they would continue in the faith. Pray that God would continue to work in bringing about a revival to the churches in Guatemala. Pray for the leaders who make decisions such as these, that the church brethren would be provoked to love and to good works, and that the Gospel might be preached to every creature.
“That I May Know Him…”
…and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Phil. 3:10-11)
At the time of this writing, we are approaching the Easter season. Although here in Guatemala this is a time of much idolatry, pagan practice, pleasure seeking, and drinking, my mind is drawn to the real meaning of Easter, which was no doubt the greatest event of all time—the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Those disciples who at first refused to believe were the first to proclaim Christ’s resurrection. Therefore it could not have been a fantasy or a dream. It was real. It is perhaps the most probable and most provable event of all history. Allow me to quote several Bible scholars:
Edersheim: “The resurrection of Jesus Christ can be the most established event in history.”
John A. Broadus: “If we do not know that Jesus of Nazareth arose from the dead, we know nothing historically.”
Ewald: “There is nothing more certain in history, than that Jesus rose from the dead, and appeared to His disciples.”
The resurrection of Jesus was the main theme of the apostles’ preaching, following the Great Commission and the Ascension. It was referred to in Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost. There were many “infallible proofs” of the resurrection. It should have been clear to any unbiased person that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God! It was in the name and the power of the risen Lord that the lame man at the temple door was healed when Peter and John went up to pray. Of course, this drew a lot of public attention, giving Peter an opportunity to preach Jesus. This was but one of many events in which the power of Christ was evident in the midst of the apostles and the early church. The apostles never accepted or claimed the credit for miracles performed; they always gave the glory to God. And God was glorified as His servants faithfully proclaimed God’s Word. Many souls were saved, and the church of Jesus Christ was established and flourished.
Have you ever wondered where we would be if Jesus had not risen from the dead? Where would the church be? What would world conditions be like? We may only speculate about that last question, but we can be sure that history would have been different.
- The story of Jesus would have ended at His death.
- There would not have been a Pentecost.
- Saul would not have been converted, and there would not have been an Apostle Paul. We would not have a major part of the New Testament (written by Paul).
- The Book of Revelation would not exist, especially as it speaks of Christ’s Second Coming and Heaven. If Jesus had not risen from the dead, He could not have appeared again to John.
- There would probably be no pastors or evangelists today, because there would be no message for them to give!
- There would be no way for men to be saved, and there would be no hope.
- Without the Resurrection we would just be here (at best), and no one could go to Heaven.
Because of Christ’s resurrection, you and I have the power available to live for Him, to be victorious, and to present Christ to those we meet. This is what Paul meant when he said: “That I may know Him, and the power of his resurrection . . .” Not only can we know Him, but we can also live by the power of His resurrection. It is not of ourselves; it is Christ living His life in us! In order for that to be a reality, we must die first. Don’t forget that the above verse also states: “. . . being made conformable unto his death.”
I think Paul says it best in Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Christ living His life in you and me! What a privilege is ours!
Dear Christian friend, who is this Jesus whom you serve? Is he alive? What does the world see or know of Jesus in your life today? Is He that Saviour, the victorious One who can make all the difference in their lives? Is this your experience? Is it evident that Christ is living His life in yours?
May the reality and the power of the Resurrection live on in us continually!
~ Mark Gingerich
One of the four small churches in the Quiché mountains of western Guatemala is called “Aposento Alto.” This church began in the early 1980s when some brethren visited a friend in the little town of Nahualá. The friend didn’t join the church, but introduced them to another man named Miguel, whose home became available as a place to hold the first services. As time went on, he was baptized, joined the church, and is a faithful member today.
Not far from Nahualá was another Mennonite church in the town of Novillero. Brother Victor Ovalle, now an ordained bishop, has roots in this village and was instrumental in starting the outreach church. Someone from Novillero would often travel to the church in Nahualá to hold services. For a time, morning services were held in Novillero and afternoon services in Nahualá. At times someone would come from other churches to help with weekly services, but no North American missionary was ever stationed in Nahualá.
In recent years no members were left in the Novillero church except those living there for leadership purposes, although some visitors attended. Since leadership was scarce and the Novillero and Nahualá churches were close together, it was decided that anyone who wanted to continue attending could come to Nahualá. The doors were closed in Novillero.
The language most spoken in Nahualá is the Quiché dialect. Some older folks don’t understand much Spanish. Most younger ones can speak it, though it is not their first language.
Brother Diego has been serving as ordained deacon for more than twenty-five years. He and his wife have three single daughters, all faithful church members. They have nearly an hour’s walk through the mountains to get to church every Sunday.
Three families attend the church, but no youth. Only two children regularly attend Sunday school, but eight precious souls are members and desire to be faithful.
Please pray that they would not become discouraged with so few people, and that they could shine as a light to the world around them.
Pray especially for Miguel’s children. One daughter went through instruction class and was considering baptism, but stopped short of that step of commitment.
This is another area where earning a living is somewhat difficult. Pray that the brethren would be diligent, yet remember to keep their spiritual life first and trust God to provide for their needs as they serve Him.
Thank you again for your prayers.
Craig Martin recently left Guatemala after serving for more than three and a half years. He came in 2011 and worked in Guatemala City at headquarters for the first part of his time, spending short periods of time in other locations. For a little over a year he has served in Santa Rosita working with the youth and community people and laboring alongside Daniel Eby in the church work. We want to give Craig a big thank-you for the dedication and energy he put into the Lord’s work here.
Julia King also left Guatemala recently. She served as a nurse in the clinics for more than five years, spending most of her time in El Chal. Her caring heart touched many as she ministered to their physical needs in the clinic and spent time with them outside normal clinic hours. Thank you, Julia, for your commitment. May the Lord bless you for the years that you invested in Guatemala.
Brother Harold Kauffman recently celebrated his 90th birthday, and a special service was held at the farm commemorating the event. Harold has faithfully served the Lord in the spiritually white fields of Guatemala, encouraging, exhorting, preaching, and discipling for nearly fifty years.
Harold was very instrumental in the beginning of many of the seventeen MAM churches and is deeply appreciated by the Guatemalan people. Friends from many of Guatemala’s regions were there, and took the opportunity to express their appreciation for the work the Lord has done through this dear brother. We thank the Lord for the contribution and vision that Brother Harold has put into the work.
We thank Brother Harold for his willingness to be used of the Lord over the years, and pray that the Lord would continue to use him for His glory.