Teams of Two
I sat in a small house at the end of the road in the area known as Pasaco. Some chickens lazily scratched in the dirt floor at my feet, looking for whatever scraps they could find. I had come to this house with Galen Miller, my coworker, at the invitation of a man who had wanted to talk with us—or rather with Galen, since I don’t speak much Spanish.
This man was seeking. He was seriously looking for spiritual food, and that day he found it at the feet of Jesus.
This is the heartbeat of Mennonite Air Missions. Our desire, which is also that of our Saviour, is to “have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Following the example of Jesus, our goal is to send out young men “two and two” (Luke 10:1) throughout Guatemala to live and work with missionaries and native pastors.
In the fall of 2011, Steve Steckly moved to Oratorio to work beside Bishop Isaías Muñoz. The next spring Wendell Diem joined him. Steve pastored the church in El Pital, which is an 1½ hour drive from Oratorio, for several years before moving back to Canada this March. Wendell continues to pastor a little church in the small village of La Pastoría, very close to Oratorio. He plans to get married in June and, Lord willing, will continue to lead the little flock there.
Jonathan Bear and Daniel Meyer live in Santa Rosita with Daniel and Dora Eby. Jonathan and Daniel are hoping to move to their own house very soon. They are repairing the old mission clinic in Santa Rosita before moving into it.
Jonathan and Daniel both enjoy helping the local people with field work. Jonathan recently told me how differently the people relate to him when he is working with them, swinging a machete, and wearing rubber work boots like everyone else. He said, “It’s like we are all on the same level; they treat me more like one of them.”
Jonathan is also renting four manzanas (a manzana is about 1.72 acres) and, with the help of some local boys, plans to plant corn. His goal is to provide work for those boys, while being an example and an influence to them as they work together.
Galen Miller and I live near Pasaco, which is directly south of Guatemala City close to the El Salvador border. Galen is temporarily serving as pastor of the local church, which is within walking distance of our house. We have been attending services here for the past five months, but have only recently moved. We have lived here for less than a week and are still adjusting to our new life. We would like to reach out to our community in different ways, but setting up our house, learning how to cook, and learning where to buy different food items has taken the majority of our time recently. Please pray, especially as we focus on reaching the many young men in this area, that hearts will be softened and open to the Gospel.
Pray also that God would raise up men for the work who are unconditionally surrendered to Him. Pray for obedience to God, that we could fall in stride with Christ and with His plan, recognizing that this is not our work, but His.
~ Zachary Morgan
The Father’s Business
While still a boy, Jesus declared His intent to be about His Father’s business. Throughout His life He was faithful to do His Father’s will, working to seek and to save those who were lost. Jesus has called us to join Him in this saving effort, calling us to be “ambassadors for Christ.” When He gave us the Great Commission, Jesus charged the church with the business of going to all nations, making disciples from each people group, and baptizing them. Upon receiving these new believers into the body of Christ, the church was to then teach them to live in obedience to His goals and values.
There are many good and worthwhile projects that can be done for humanity in the name of Jesus. But there are none as important as this “business” that Jesus gave to the church to pursue. The Great Commission is a complete package that includes five or more essential aspects:
- We help people who are not Christians to understand their need of a Saviour.
- We point them to Jesus as their only hope of salvation.
- We pray for them and preach to them, working in harmony with the Holy Spirit to draw them into a decision of faith that responds to God and makes them a disciple of Christ.
- We publicly baptize them with water baptism, helping them seal their commitment to Christ and giving them entrance into a Biblical, local congregation of believers.
- Finally, we endeavor to help them grow and mature in a lifestyle that supports and testifies of their discipleship to Jesus.
As conservative Anabaptist Christians, we do not believe that teaching others to be Jesus’ disciples means duplicating the exact cultural norms of one people group in all others. We do believe, however, that it is our duty to teach and promote all the principles found in God’s Word. This is why we work to establish local congregations where Jesus’ values are learned, embraced, and practiced. We wish to see people, who were once slaves to sin and self and were not even aware of the reality of God, now living and acting as witnesses of His divine nature.
The work of the Great Commission is hard work. And it does not always lend itself to immediate results. Sometimes ambassadors for Jesus work for months or even years without seeing many people become disciples. Direct adult evangelism does not give daily evidence of progress in the same way that many other service projects do. In many projects you can see each day what was built or how many people were served or how much was distributed. But not so in the labor to bring people to Christ.
But praise God, there are tangible results. Men and women are born again. Churches are formed, then grow and mature. And what tremendous good is realized. First, souls who were once bound in Satan’s prison are now set free. Second, where bondage to sinful practices once destroyed lives, families, and communities, now there is peace and productive living. Third—and often overlooked—is the long-term benefit when individuals are converted. As the Lord tarries, the impact and influence of a life lived for Jesus affects many generations in a way that would never have happened if that person had not become a disciple of Jesus.
This is why Mennonite Air Missions is dedicated to church planting. It is not the only Christian endeavor we are involved in, but it is the essential, central one around which we wish to see all other efforts functioning and supporting. We trust God to bless according to the Scriptural promise that we use as our mission motto: “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bring his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5, 6).
~ Duane Eby
Juan Carlos Lemus and Waneda Erb
Waneda Erb and Juan Carlos Lemus were married on March 5, 2016. Waneda, who is from Ontario, has been the school secretary in El Chal for the past 6½ years. Juan Carlos is from Guatemala City. He was in El Chal nearly five years ago as a substitute teacher for a few months when he first noticed Waneda. After a ten month courtship, today arrived.
It was a beautiful day for a beautiful occasion under the open skies as friends and family from near and far gathered to witness the wedding. Juan Carlos and Waneda will live in El Chal and continue to be actively involved in the work of the school and church.
Twice a year special meetings are planned especially for youth. The last weekend of March we held what we call our Youth Institute. It is 2½ days long and is open for any youth who want to come. This year over seventy youth attended a very good turnout.
It was good to hear messages on topics such as “The Consequences of Immorality,” “The Bible, The Basis for Every Decision,” “The Part Youth Have in the Church,” and “The Armor of God,” to name a few. We had a good time of fellowship, recreation, a Bible quiz, and singing. Many were encouraged and one young lady accepted the Lord for the first time.
Guatemala, as well as anywhere else in the world, needs young men and women of faith to become strong in the Christian life, and someday become leaders of the church. May God help each one to be faithful where they are today so they can be led where He wants them tomorrow.
Larry Martin moved to Guatemala on January 12 for a term of service. He is currently stationed in the city, working beside Craig Martin, doing maintenance at headquarters, and driving around the city to pick up people and do various errands. Larry comes from Alexandria, Pennsylvania, and is part of the Bethel Mennonite Church. His experience as a farmer comes in handy with the repair work that is part of his new job.
MAM is in need of personnel for several positions:
– Headquarters manager: someone to oversee the maintenance and service work of Mission Headquarters, to interact with North American and Guatemalan staff, and do some bookwork.
– Missionary couples/families: someone willing to grow into the role of outreach and pastoral work in rural settings.
– VS fellows for missionary assistants or native pastor assistants. We now have several teams of young men serving either beside national leaders or under their oversight, and we see value in expanding that effort. These teams have been a real blessing. (See the “Teams of Two” article in this edition.)
If these opportunities interest you, or if you know of someone who may be interested, please contact Wesley King at firstname.lastname@example.org.