January 2023 Update
Happy New Year! We started our new year in Guatemala by gathering our team and their families to celebrate King’s Day on January 6th, the day set aside to remember the wisemen who searched for the Christ child and brought gifts to honor him as the long-awaited King.
It was a great time of gathering in the garden of our offices to give thanks to God for the gift of Jesus, to enjoy a time of good food, crazy games, and to exchange gifts.
Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
We welcomed our newest team member, baby Santiago, born to Jacky and Neri Ajiataz, and also welcomed two new MAF pilots in training with A.G.A.P.E. for this year. (yes, of course we made them dress up as kings for the game!)
A new year of ministry is off and running! Thank you for your support and prayers that keep everything moving ahead. Keep reading to see what we are up to as the new year unfolds, gracias!
Our Run:Hope Teacher Conference January 9 – 12
Exploring Geography was the theme of our conference as we brought 25 our Run:Hope teachers to Guatemala City. We had various workshops and visited the amazing Relief Map in Guatemala City, hiked the active volcano Pacaya, and learned about the past Mayan Civilization in Museo Mira Flores, built right in the heart of a large shopping area in Guatemala City. We used Psalm 104 as our reflection devotion passage, as we talked about geographic landforms, natural resources, and the ecoregional diversity in Guatemala.
Here are just a few of the special memories of our geography conference:
Highlights in the making for 2023
We are looking forward to sharing with you quarterly throughout the New Year!
You can also check our website at
Your support, prayers, and love keep us going!
Rick and Deb
(for our entire H.O.P.E. & A.G.A.P.E. teams)
Our hearts are overwhelmed with Thanksgiving and it’s not just because this is the traditional time of giving thanks in the US! We have been truly blown away with God faithfulness, and with his amazing provision for even small details that came together for H.O.P.E. ministry paths since our update in August.
Please take a few minutes to read and give thanks with us for all the ways that God is working through our ministry paths and through faithful supporters such as you!
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Our first Run:Hope Teacher Scholar Graduates
We were excited to receive the news early September that Xhun, a Run:Hope teacher scholar from Salquil Grande, finally had his thesis approved and would graduate September 24th. Xhun faithfully persevered for 12 years, six of those sponsored by Run:Hope, to finally achieve a double master’s degree in Theology and Music from Seteca Seminary in Guatemala City. A landslide three days before his graduation almost prevented a van going up the mountain to pick him up with his family, his pastor, and two deacons from his church. They were prepared to hike over the landslide area! God provided and just in time, a large piece of equipment cleared the way for the van.
His graduation was such a poignant reminder of God’s steadfast love and provision not only for Xhun, but for his entire Ixil community. Xhun was the first teacher of Light and Life School which has grown from one class to a full school of kinder through high school with 130 students. Xhun plans to continue teaching at Light and Life School and will also begin to teach in our Firm Foundations, Creation to Christ Bible program in his community in 2023.
Run:Hope Events & Sponsors meet our Goal for 2023 School Year
Our Run:Hope events get people moving and represent the challenge and perseverance necessary to achieve an education in Quiché Guatemala.
The Bike Race, MD
Rick and our son Eric participated in an entire uphill 15.6 bike race September 10th on the GAP trail (Great Allegany Passage trail) in Maryland to raise support for our Run:Hope teachers and students. They met the challenge of their first ever bike race together and are continuing to bike together early in the morning a couple times a week to be even more prepared for next year’s race!
East River Park Run/Walk NYC
October 22nd was a picture perfect fall day in NYC for our Run/Walk in East River Park. We had a wonderful group of individuals from a kick boxer and a couple who are running marathons in each of the 50 US states, to kids, and even a two-month old baby carried in a snuggly, all running and walking in support of our teachers and students in Quiché Guatemala!
We are so thankful that through these Run:Hope events, and through the sponsorship and support from three partner churches, our goal of $70,000 for the entire budget of Run:Hope for 2023 was reached!
A BIG thank you to all the participants who met the challenge of biking, running, and walking!
A BIG thank you to all the sponsors who gave generously!
Check out more pictures of this event here.
The month of November is a time of thanksgiving and celebration in our Bible programs as students complete a year of study. There have been three celebrations this month in the areas where our “traveling seminary” team brings the Bible program to pastors and lay leaders in harder to access communities in Guatemala. Pictured are some of the classes during the year and the 24 graduates in the community of Samococh. We are so thankful for the commitment of these students and for the safety that God has given to our team in all their travels throughout the year.
Update | Graduation Under a New Roof at Light & Life School
In our August update, we showed a before and after picture of the outdoor activities and event area at Light and Life School in Salquil Grande. Through generous supporters, a roof was constructed over this outdoor space, now making it usable for gym time and events without the worry of the sun beating down or downpours during rainy season. The school year has just ended and we are happy to share this photo of the graduation under the new roof.
As you can see, we have so many reasons to give thanks this season! Your loyal support and prayers have kept our ministry paths open and moving forward in ways beyond what we expected. Like the banner reads in the graduation photo,
“Dios Sea La Gloria” -- “To God be the Glory!”
We appreciate your partnership so much!
Rick & Deb Carey
(for our entire H.O.P.E. and A.G.A.P.E. team)
As you are experiencing the final weeks of summer in the U.S., perhaps getting in some travel and time with family and friends, we encourage you to take a few moments and rejoice with us in God’s provision and faithfulness since we last updated you in May.
Great are the works of the Lord;
They are studied by all who delight in them.
Splendid and majestic is His work,
And His righteousness endures forever.
Update on our Run:Hope Teacher Conference
After pausing for two years, our Run:Hope Conference for our teachers finally took place at an open air retreat center June 29 – July 1st. Twenty-five of our teachers were able to travel from three different mountain communities to focus on our theme, Creation Speaks: Exploring Science. Chloe, Dorothy and Avah from Oversea Chinese Mission's short-term team were a great help! We had a wonderful time of learning, growing, and sharing God’s amazing design for His creation. You can see a glimpse of the conference here.
This is rainy season in Guatemala, and we enjoyed the entire conference together without any rain! It made our time together that much more productive as strong rains in the open air setting would have made it difficult to hear. The rains began right after the conference ended as everyone was safely on the bus to return to their homes. Thank you for your prayers and support that were definitely felt throughout our time together!
Before and After: A Learning Space Multiplied
Do you enjoy looking at before and after pictures as much as we do? In our last update, we shared pictures of a Mother’s day event at our partner Run:Hope school, Light and Life School in Salquil, Quiché. We mentioned the need for a roof to increase the usable space of the school for special events, gym classes, and a play area for the students. Take a before and after look below!
Through the generous gift of one supporter and additional funds raised by a small short-term team that served with us in Guatemala in July, the necessary funds have been received to build a roof over this space providing a shield from sun and rain to multiply the usable space for gym classes and special programs.
God is so good and worked in ways above what we could even imagine! It just happened that a crew and supplies were available and able to make it to the school at the end of June through early July to complete this project. Anyone working on construction projects in the past few years knows that this is amazing!
Through prayer and generous giving, the ministry of Light & Life school is multiplied with the blessing of a roof! Please give thanks to God together with us!
Firm Foundations Kicks off this September
Firm Foundations, a program for teaching the Bible chronologically from Creation to Christ, with special emphasis on teaching methods and creative visuals, kicks off this September. Deb and Rick will be in Salquil, Quiché for the initial teaching session of this program. As well, we will be hosting special programs for all the students of Light and Life school and participate in planning sessions with our team in Guatemala for the upcoming new year.
Run:Hope Fall Events: Join Us!
Last year, walkers, bikers, runners and supporters came together in a big way to raise all the funds needed to support 264 children to return to in-person classes for 2022, and all the funds needed for transportation, the retreat center, meals and resources for our Run:Hope teacher conference this past July. As well, thirteen teachers were able to continue their own degree studies, four of whom are working on their master's thesis, and the salaries for Light and Life school staff were finally able to be paid in full for the current school year.
Would you join us again this fall to raise the necessary funds for the 2023 School year that begins in January? Please see how you can participate in person by joining an event, or participate wherever you are! We are considering ways of expanding and strengthening our Run:Hope schools in the new school year and your support is vital!
Thank you for your partnership!
We give God all thanks for a summer that was challenging, but with results that were beyond our prayers and expectations.
Rick and Deb
for our entire H.O.P.E. and A.G.A.P.E. team
We are writing to you from Guatemala to update you on all H.O.P.E. happenings firsthand!
What a joy to be able to bring our entire team and their families together at our office headquarters this May. We celebrated “Dia de Gracia”, a day to give thanks in May! We’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what time of year it may be or whatever challenges we are still facing, we can always take time to give praise and thanks to God.
Colossians 2:6-7 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding with thanksgiving.
We are so very thankful for our incredible young team of Bible teachers, pilots, and administrative staff. God has given our team protection, unity, and wonderful hearts to serve together. Our H.O.P.E. and A.G.A.P.E. teams are established in the faith, are continuing to grow, and abounding with thanksgiving. Please keep reading to learn how your support and prayers are keeping all our ministry paths open.
Update | Pastoral Leadership Program
Neri reports that the pastoral leadership program has grown to 65 students from 37 at the beginning of 2022. There are three current areas where pastors and leaders gather for the training: Samococh, in Chisec, Grande Sacoj in Mixco, and Joyabaj el Quiché.
Currently, the students are working through courses in biblical leadership, communication, and ecclesiastical studies as they work toward a leadership diploma.
Neri shared the following prayer requests (1) For consistency and perseverance for all the students. It is difficult for them to balance the demands of their churches, families, and often other full-time work to provide for their families. (2) Pray for the health and physical protection of the team as they travel. (3) Pray for wisdom and discernment in opening up other areas for training.
Update | A.G.A.P.E. Aviation
Newest pilot German Ortiz was happy to chat with Rick and show him the donated plane from MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship) which has all digital controls. The hanger has some great improvements with a comfortable waiting area. Director of A.G.A.P.E. and lead pilot, Eri Alas, reports that a project is in place to raise funds for new hangar doors. They have been making the old doors work for many years and are looking forward to fewer wrestling matches with new doors as they navigate the planes in and out daily.
Eri would like everyone to keep the following things in prayer: (1) Completion of standardization of MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship) training for Germán Ortiz. (2) Training for Francisco Herrera, to achieve his commercial license and be a candidate for standardization in MAF. (3) Pray for the necessary funds to conclude the hangar door project and repaint the TG-BAY airplane. (4) Praise God for good team health and pray to conduct the ministry safely during rainy season.
What a joy to be able to get back out to Quiché personally and visit two of our Run:Hope partner schools. The roads are still rough, but it was so good to talk with teachers personally and understand better the challenges they have been facing. In La Perla, the middle school shares space with the primary school and this has caused some stressful situations with the administration that we are working to resolve. Please pray that a good resolution will be worked out between the middle school staff and primary school administrator.
Our visit to Colegio Luz y Vida (Light and Life School) in Salquil Grande was a delight as classrooms were full of students actively learning. The middle school computer class was great to see as one of our supporting churches provided the computers. The students worked with some of the teachers to build the desks. We love to see the great results of partnerships and the hard work of students. It’s also really great to see the amount of girls continuing on with their education. That’s something that may not seem like a huge thing in the US, but it certainly is a wonderful opportunity realized at Colegio Luz y Vida through the sacrifice of parents and our Run:Hope sponsorships.
Update | Run:Hope Conference
We have a new date and even a wonderful new venue for our Run:Hope teacher conference to be held June 29 – July 2nd. You may recall in January we had to postpone. The pandemic has taken a toll on the few venues that seemed appropriate to host the event. As we traveled to Quiché, we saw a brand new restaurant & retreat area so we pulled right in to see if it might be appropriate. It’s a beautiful green area with an open air covered meeting space, sufficient sleeping rooms, and a very nice restaurant. We are so thankful for this and look forward to sharing photos and stories from our Run:Hope conference that will gather 28 teachers from three mountain communities for fellowship and training around the theme Creation Speaks: Exploring Science.
During our time in Quiché we were also able to visit with old friends, long-time pastor and coffee grower Manolo and his wife Marlene. When we first met Pastor Manolo and Marlene, he was pastoring a church in La Perla. He is now settled in Chel and pastoring a church there. Marlene works as a seamstress and is a great cook --- she makes the best tortillas! Pastor Manolo has always been a man of vision. He taught himself to read the New Testament as a young boy and is always learning. He would love to start a Christian school in Chel as the community is growing.
Thank you for your partnership!
We continue to trust God to help our team build strong roots and strengthen all paths of H.O.P.E. and A.G.A.P.E. ministries in Guatemala. We thank you for your partnership with us in a time when there are so many needs around the world. We know that it is God who holds all things together and for this, we are truly thankful!
We encourage you to follow us for the latest happenings on Instagram, Facebook, and our website.
Rick and Deb
for our entire H.O.P.E. and A.G.A.P.E. team
Light and Life Update
Hi Friends of Light and Life School,
You are receiving this newsletter as someone who is supporting a Light and Life School student or teacher, have shown interest in this unique Ixil Christian School, or even blessed Light & Life School as a team member serving in Salquil Grande, Guatemala!
Classes are full and active since the new school year began in January. From computer classes to sports, the students are busy! In addition to academics, students are encouraged to show respect for their parents and elders. Read below how a recent opportunity to honor mothers for Dia de Madre, brought a large group of mothers together for the first time since the pandemic. The outdoor space used for all gym classes and celebrations was simply decorated and draped with plastic to shield from the sun and rain. A roof over this area would greatly increase the usable space of the school, especially during rainy season!
In this update we are highlighting one of our 5th graders. Read on to see how your support is helping Sabina Alicia excel in her studies and pursue her dream to study to become a lawyer. Learn more how you can support this amazing ministry!
Note from the Director Carlos:
May is a very special month at Light and Life School. One of the parts of our curriculum is to teach honor and respect for parents and elders. During May, Dia de Madre, our mother’s day that is celebrated on May 10th in Guatemala, is the perfect opportunity to welcome mothers to Light and Life school to enjoy a special program and celebration just for them. Our mothers are the pillars in their families and our community. This was the first time to gather such a large group of mothers since the pandemic. It was a time filled with a motivational talk especially for our mothers and a special meal that they enjoyed together. We were so thankful for this opportunity to celebrate the mothers and show the students the importance of setting aside time to honor mothers.
May is also the time in Guatemala when the rains come. Rainy season lasts approximately from May to the beginning of November. Although our community is thankful for rains to help crops to flourish, the downpours do make our area for active gym time, assemblies, and celebrations limited to when the weather is dry. Although you can see from the pictures that we do drape plastic over the area to shield from the sun and light rain, a permanent roof cover would be ideal and create much needed usable space throughout the school year.
Our classrooms are full and we have a total of 120 students this year, primary through basico (middle school). We are so thankful for the hard work of our students, the sacrifice of their parents, and the wonderful support of so many sponsors that make an education at Light and Life School possible for these students. We give thanks to God and to you for the opportunity to be Light and Life in the lives of these students and families. Please read about one of our students, Sabina Alicia, to see what a difference a quality education can make in the life of a young girl in Salquil Grande.
How Your Support Makes a Difference | Sabina Alicia, 5th grade
Sabina Alicia was born in Salquil Grande and is the first daughter of her parents. She loves nature and animals. One day, her mother bought her a chick and she happily cared for it. Unfortunately, a cat ate it. She cried for her chick and her grandmother saw that she was so sad. She knew Alicia had taken good care of the chick so she bought her another chick. Alicia cared so well for this chick that it grew and laid eggs. Now Alicia cares for her hen and four chicks every day. She hopes that she can sell them to save money to buy a sheep.
Sabina Alicia is a 5th grader at Light and Life School. Before attending Light and Life School, she attended the public school, but the public school had insufficient teachers and the learning opportunities were limited. Sabina is very happy at Light and Life School and loves to read and help other students read and learn. Her mother is very supportive and comes to school once a week to observe Sabina’s progress. One project that she was very proud to create was a nature diorama, showing how to care for the environment. She also loves active sports and is the best scorer on her futbal (soccer) team.
After school classes, Sabina helps her mother around the house with chores like sweeping, washing dishes and helping prepare meals. Of course, she also cares for her chickens!
Because she loves to read so much and learn, she hopes one day to study to become a lawyer and notary to help her community. She knows that to be a lawyer you need a lot of reading to have knowledge of the laws to be able to apply it in each case that she solves.
Light and Life School Prayer Notes
Hola friends! Whether you are a long-time supporter of H.O.P.E. Bible Mission or just recently joined one of our Run:Hope events this past summer and fall, we want to update you as we begin a new year.
Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the ways that God sustained our team and work in the past challenging year. Although our new year begins with some plans having to be altered yet again, we can’t help but realize that God is for us and working in amazing ways! As we keep our focus, stand firm, and continue to give our best, our labor is not in vain.
Highlights of 2021
Although the year on the ground in Guatemala looked very different again this past year, we are thankful for a sense of unity and incredible camaraderie in our joint HOPE/Agape team who worked together tirelessly to do what was needed to get the job done.
Some of our regular teachers in the pastoral Bible program worked together to deliver a large donation of desks for one of our Run:Hope partner schools to be able to start a new school year this January, as back to back hurricanes in November 2020 damaged homes, crops and school resources. Thank you to our partners at Ridgeway Alliance Church in White Plains, NY for a vital donation of desks and computers.
Our team worked together to prepare and deliver resources to each of our three Run:Hope partner schools, offering them encouragement and an opportunity to discuss the challenges they have been facing. They also presented an introduction to Fundamentos Firmes, a creation to Christ training program for teachers of children in the local churches in Salquil Grande, where Run:Hope partner school, Light and Life is located. There will be 15 students joining this program in 2022.
Although the pastoral Bible training program had fewer students last year, there were 37 pastors and leaders who continued. We are grateful that our team was creative using phones and social media to teach and stay in touch.
AGAPE, led by director and pilot Eri Alas, was able to complete 80% of their planned work, making adjustments with the restrictions given by the central government due to the pandemic. Emergency medical flights, transport of vaccines, and bringing people safely to remote parts of Guatemala were all part of their work this past year.
MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship) donated a plane to the work in Guatemala, so now there are two small airplanes available to access remote regions. God also provided a new pilot, German Ortiz, who has been a great asset to the aviation team of Eri, Juan Carlos, and Juan Antonio, airplane dispatcher. We are so blessed to have these incredible resources in equipment and personnel!
A Great Big Thanks for a Run:Hope Goal Accomplished!
This past summer and fall, we had three Run:Hope events stateside to raise awareness and support for approximately 250 students and 28 teachers for the 2022 school year. We were thrilled with the outpouring of support and met our goal of $50,000. which covers the entire budget for the program for 2022. One partner church, Maryland Community Church in Indiana, went above and beyond in sponsoring 67 students! We are incredibly grateful for their outpouring of love and for all the amazing support for everyone who participated.
2022 Plans and Prayers
Our annual conference for our Run:Hope teachers will have the theme: Creation Speaks | Exploring Science. Although the plan was to host this conference in January, it will be postponed until our team and teachers decide it is safe to do so. All the sessions and materials have been prepared. The conference provides an avenue for shared resources, training and dialogue for our Run:Hope teachers. We have 28 signed up for this new year. Please pray for these teachers as they begin the new school year January 15th.
The Bible training program for pastors and leaders will begin at the end of January. Our team travels to specific areas in Quiché and the classes will be safely conducted with distancing and masks. Most communities do not have the medical support or infrastructure to care for health emergencies. Please pray for the health and safety of all, and for the training to equip and encourage these leaders.
The program, Fundamentos Firmes, is set to begin this year in Salquil Grande. One of our Run:Hope sponsored teachers, Xhun, who is finishing his seminary degree this year, will be one of the main teachers/facilitators. We are thrilled that his hard work and sponsorship, has led to this opportunity to use his training in the area churches of his community. Pray for Xhun as he finishes his thesis and prepares for the Firm Foundations program.
Please pray for safety and wisdom for the AGAPE aviation team. They are well trained and take the utmost care for airplane maintenance and abide by the highest standards of flight safety, however, there are many challenges of flying in Guatemala, especially during this pandemic time. They are brothers in Christ who use their flying skills to help edify and care for those in difficult areas of access.
On the home office front, as many of you know, our stateside office is now in Frostburg, Maryland. Deb has returned full-time to work with our Run:Hope program and will oversee the upcoming Fundamentos Firmes program for teachers of children. Rick and Deb were able to be in Guatemala last June – July. Plans to be in Guatemala this January had to be postponed, however, bags are packed and ready to go whenever we have a new date for our Run:Hope teacher conference. Pray for wisdom in all decision making and wise stewardship and care for our team and all the resources God has entrusted to us.
Our 2022 prayer for our team is to remain strong in the faith, to keep standing firm, and giving our best, knowing that our work and the outcomes are in God’s hands. Praying that for all of you as well!
We encourage you to follow us for the latest happenings on Instagram, Facebook, and our website.
Rick and Deb
August 20th, 2021
Hi Run:Hope Friends,
The summer has been full of joys and challenges! We’re so grateful to all who have joined us so far in our summer Run:Hope kick-off. Whether through walking, hosting events, or donating, you are a part of making paths to education larger and more accessible in Quiché. And, it’s not over yet! Read on for updates and more ways to be involved. We also invite you to get to know one of the remarkable teachers at Light and Life School and in the Run:Hope cohort, Juan Pérez Marroquín (Xhun).
Run:Hope Teacher Focus: Xhun
Xhun (pictured on the right), was one of the first teachers at Light and Life School when they began with just one grade in 2004. Xhun knows what it’s like to persevere through challenges. To get his seminary degree, he has spent the past five years traveling by bus to Guatemala City every Friday evening. Saturday he is in class all day and Sunday morning he returns by bus in time to help lead afternoon services at his home church. He is a father of five, a creative teacher, a gifted musician, and worship leader. A highlight of his teaching career was forming a choir of his fellow teachers and community members who traveled to Guatemala City to perform at Seteca Seminary for their anniversary celebration. We are so grateful to have him partner with us in the upcoming training program, Firm Foundations for Teachers of Children, in the churches in his community.
Happenings this Summer:
Run:Hope Program Development
This past June/July Deb spent five weeks in Guatemala working with the Run:Hope team. We organized a special visit to our three partner schools to offer encouragement and much needed school supplies. Unfortunately due to rising COVID case numbers in the country and slow vaccination roll-out, the in-person meeting component of the trip has been postponed. However, we are working out logistics to deliver school supplies in a safe manner that prioritizes the health of both teachers and our staff.
The team also developed a framework for our next Run:Hope conference, to take place in November. This conference offers 21 participating teachers spiritual encouragement and practical workshops focused on the sciences. As we continue to monitor the situation of COVID in Guatemala we know that we may need to do this conference virtually. Please pray for the wisdom and preparation for this conference that it will be enriching for our Run:Hope teaching cohort.
Firm Foundations for Teachers of Children Program
Deb also had the opportunity to work with the team to develop an introduction to our program, Firm Foundations for Teachers of Children that we hope to restart in January in Salquil Grande, Quiché, where our Run:Hope partner school, Light and Life, is located. This thorough training in God’s word from creation to Christ, including teaching methods and preparation of lesson visuals, has been a vital resource in the past for rural churches in the area.
So thankful for your support
It's been a summer mixed with joys and challenges, but we know who keeps our steps firm and gives us the strength to persevere in all things! We are so very thankful for each and every one of you who have offered your support, prayers and love to move our Run:Hope education initiative forward. We encourage you to follow us for the latest happenings on Instagram, Facebook, and our website.
That's all for now. Keep moving and praying!
Rick and Deb
Our Run:Hope Nature Walk
2020 with H.O.P.E. Bible Mission
Psalm 75:2 When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm.
Greetings to all our faithful supporters,
The year 2020 began with many plans and ideas for ministry. When we sent our letter to you in December of 2019 (Next Steps for HBM 2020) we were full of focused vision for this new 2020 year. Like you, little did we know or anticipate the road that was ahead. When the pandemic hit in full force this past March it was very tempting to pull back to wait and see what would happen. But our God is not a God of wait and see.
Although we wondered how the ministry would endure in Guatemala, we clung to God. HOPE has always been guided by the principle to Help Open Paths to Evangelize. Read about the Founding of H.O.P.E. Bible Mission
A Time to Pivot
The pandemic caused our ministry paths in Guatemala to be turned upside down as the mountain villages were cut off to any travel to spare them from COVID outbreaks in a region with so little medical support. Our team pivoted and did their best to reach out virtually and by telephone in a region that doesn’t have strong internet infrastructure. Just when things seemed to be opening up a bit again for our teams to go back out in person, Central America was hit by two hurricanes.
When Hurricane Eta hit, we saw video clips of key bridges to rural communities being wiped out. Eight days later Iota came to Central America causing even more devastation and we cried for mercy for our brothers and sisters who were cut off from food supplies, who lost homes and water systems due to mudslides. We have been clinging to the One who holds the pillars of the earth firm even when we are shaken.
It is hard to even express all that has happened this past year, but we can only say it is through God’s abundant grace and amazing provision that our team in Guatemala stands firm, that they have remained faithful, and that they are using every resource available to continue to provide support and solid Biblical teaching in the midst of this year of great instability.
With the faithful prayer and financial support of our partners in ministry, our team has been able to achieve more this year for the Gospel than we could have imagined.
In the following brief report we want to share with you how God has worked and held our ministry pillars firm.
The AGAPE Partnership, Biblical Training
The foundation of ministry is the local church and our passion is to train and disciple leaders to minister in those churches. This has presented unique challenges and opportunities. Due to the pandemic travel has been extremely limited. As you can read from our update “Adjusting to the Changes” our team has adjusted to teaching and mentoring virtually. None of the programs have ended and we have started a new program in Samococh.
It has been a challenge due to the limited internet in the rural areas. Many of the pastors and leaders only have access to cell phone coverage. But our team has been diligently working using the internet that is available and phone calls to ensure that our leaders continue to progress in their understanding of the Gospel. In 2021 we will continue with the programs in Samochoch, Chajul, Chiguatal and la Taña.
In Chel, Ilom, LaPerla, and Polmbose where the programs have finished, the team continues to work with the church leaders to grow discipleship in the local churches. We partner with these leaders in community outreach and with our other ministries of Run:Hope and Salud que Transforma with resources and accountability.
The AGAPE Partnership, Ministry Flying
The AGAPE ministry has continued to fly during these challenging times. You can read about this in our update, “Flights During Difficult Times.” Eri Alas has done the majority of flying and for the past few weeks he has been joined once again by Ludin Reyes in response to the Hurricane crisis in Central America. They have flown thousands of pounds of food and resources in Guatemala and Honduras (Update from Honduras). This year the plane has not been able to produce enough income to help support the ministry programs as usual, however, God graciously has provided the funds for us to make up that difference.
The Run:Hope Ministry
As with the U.S. education in Guatemala has been deeply affected by the pandemic. The most significant difference is that the vast majority of children do not have access to internet service in their homes. In the rural mountain areas that problem is even more severe and the reality is that for these children the year has been lost.
The 28 teachers registered in our Run:Hope program have worked diligently to overcome this challenge. At the Luz y Vida school in Salquil Grande the teachers have followed up with every student either through cell phones (via Whatsapp) or going door to door handing out assignments and discussing the lessons with each student. The determined dedication to their students demonstrates the core values of the Run:Hope ministry.
This year we held our first virtual Run:Hope Education conference (First Virtual Run:Hope Conference 2020) with the focus on equipping our teachers with tools for virtual learning. Because this was a virtual conference we were able to include teachers from other parts of the country who are not at this time part of the Run:Hope ministry. The seminar was led by an experienced Christian educator.
Unexpected Ministry during the Pandemic
H.O.P.E. Bible Mission is typically not focused on being a relief ministry but in this unusual year God has provided us with unexpected resources to help during this time of crisis. A few churches and a number of individuals gave money to be used for those in great need during the pandemic. Our team has used 100% of those resources to help feed 325 families for six months. We partnered with local churches and pastors to identify those in greatest need. Through this ministry, we were able to minister both physically and spiritually during this pandemic.
Central America was hit especially hard by hurricanes Eta and Iota. The communities of Chel, Ilom, and Salquil were especially hard hit.
Read about Hurricane Eta
Once again God provided unexpected resources to come alongside the church leaders to help support and show love to others in the community. In Salquil Grande, we are working in partnership with the community to rebuild the water system that was destroyed in a mudslide. Carlos, the director of Light and Life school, has been key in coordinating with community leaders to rebuild the water system. As of today, the community is still without water and it is a work in process. In Chel, Polop and LaPerla, we are coordinating with local pastors to identify those in greatest need and will be working to help rebuild homes that were lost to landslides. Our projection at this point is to help rebuild up to 30 homes.
Looking Forward to 2021
After the year that we have just experienced, there is no reason for us to look forward to 2021 with any fear. God has taken care of the trouble of today and provided for every need that we have faced. One of our church partners in response to the needs of the ministry tripled their support for HOPE. Not one of our supporting churches has decreased their support.
We stand in awe of God’s mighty provision during these difficult economic times around the world. We are historically a faith mission and do not make a lot of financial pleas. We have been shaken and have cried out to God like never before, but God has held the pillars of his ministry firm!
We simply want to share what God has given us to do in 2021:
The AGAPE Partnership, Biblical Training
What we have seen powerfully in 2020 is that the education and discipleship of Biblical church leaders is vital to sustain the ministry. We need strong local churches to evangelize their communities and we need strong Biblical leaders to partner with to meet the needs of the local communities. Our hope is to see the ministry grow in three ways.
The Run:Hope Ministry
You can read more about this ministry at Run:Hope. The need for this ministry has become even more crucial due to the pandemic. In 2021, the need is not simply to open the schools. There needs to be a plan to make up for the lost months of schooling during the pandemic. This is difficult with limited resources and no government support or direction. We need wisdom and educational resources that are beyond our present team to provide. Please pray specifically for this great need!
This time of pandemic has shown opportunities to incorporate virtual learning into the Run:Hope program. We will use the tools that God has given to us to address these education needs. Our focus in the coming two years will be to strengthen our teachers and expand the program to more communities. Our prayer and desire is to see this program grow as we know the need is so great in these rural mountain communities. The goals are bold but please pray with us!
Viala Clinic and Training Center
Last year we shared with you about the Viala Clinic and Training Center. When the pandemic began we had to put this project on pause so that we could focus our energy on the Biblical training programs and the Run:Hope education ministry. As we enter 2021, we will be waiting to proceed with this project until the middle of 2021. The property in Chel had minimal damage during the hurricanes and we are thankful that the work that has been done was not impacted.
We end this update where we started by emphasizing the foundation of this ministry which is to share the Gospel of Christ. God has held the pillars of H.O.P.E. Bible Mission strong this year through:
Please pray specifically for:
A Time for JOY!
May your hearts and minds be filled with the JOY the humble shepherds felt the night the angels announced the good news of the birth of a Savior, Christ the Lord. Christ came to the “least of these” so that they could experience the fullness of God’s incredible grace!
This season, we feel the same! We are humbled as we experience God’s incredible grace to our small mission and the privilege of being able to continue to share the good news of great joy in the rural mountain communities of Guatemala.
We thank you for your partnership in sharing the joy! We pray that together our JOY will be multiplied in each of our partner churches and communities where God has placed us to proclaim the good news.
With humble and full hearts of Thanksgiving to God,
Rick and Deb for our entire team in Guatemala