We appreciate your prayers for our team as Ludin, Eri, and Juan Carlos are still in Honduras delivering aid. The weather has been difficult and slowed the process. So far they have 67.7 flight hours and have delivered 16,747 lbs of cargo along with 64 passengers. Please keep them in prayer as they are there for 10 more days.
Praise God for the generous support that we have received to provide water for more than 2500 people in the community of Salquil Grande. The landslide that destroyed the homes in Polop also destroyed the water supply for Polop and Salquil Grande. Through a partnership with the community and HOPE, they will be able to purchase sufficient pipe to bring water to the town. As you can see from the pictures below the pipe is small, but it is able to provide water for many people.
Greetings everyone. I want to give you an update on the effects that the Hurricane has left in the rural areas where we have served our brothers. In the village of Chel, thank God, we have not had human losses, only materials since the river Chel overflowed its banks, taking out three houses that were on the side of the road almost reaching to the School. In the village of Ilom, they were not as severely affected by the heavy rains. In Salquil Grande the teachers and director of Light and Life School are well thank God. In the village of Palop above Salquil, they had a landslide, taking the lives of eight people. For now, there is no electricity in Chel. The bridges have collapsed and closed the passage on the route from Chajul to La perla, Chel and Ilom.
Please pray for many affected families who have lost everything. Thanks for your prayers. God bless you.
Many of our partners in the ministry have provided funding to help those in the greatest need because of the pandemic. For the last four months because of this partnership we have been able to provide basic food supplies to sustain 34 families with a total of almost 200 people. We prayed daily and like with the five loaves of bread God's people keep supporting these families. We want to thank those of you who have had the opportunity of praying or financially supporting. God has used your servant heart to help these families survive during a very difficult time. Please keep them in prayer.
Many years ago, a good friend mine was instrumental in starting and leading a school in the South Bronx. God gave him a calling to provide a quality education for young people from one of the poorest communities in NYC. There is one phrase that he has repeated continually, “whatever it takes.”
The phrase exemplifies the dogged determination of our team in Guatemala to continue in the ministry in the face of a pandemic and lockdown. They have exercised the “whatever it takes” attitude to address the educational needs of the rural communities in the churches and the schools. They are not allowed to travel outside the city at this time but they are allowed to travel virtually.
In July we held the Virtual Run:Hope education conference. We had 35 teachers attend receiving instruction in “Developing a Learning Management System,” How to Teach the Bible in the Classroom,” and “Teaching with Virtual Tools.” Mr. William Carrillo who is an expert in the field of education led the conference. Not only were the teachers equipped they were encouraged as they sometimes have to even go door to door to teach their kids.
We deeply appreciate each one of you who have also done “whatever it takes” as you faithfully support during these uncertain times. Together we will continue to share the hope of the Gospel with your partnership in prayer and financial support.
Partnering with the Church to Spiritually and Physically Sustain the Communities during the Pandemic
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
As our communities continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and cries for justice sweep the United States and the globe, I find strength in the words of the Apostle Paul. Our faith compels us to testify the good news of God’s Grace in the midst of hardship and suffering. This does not mean we do not acknowledge the pain of the world and make space for grief. The crisis of COVID-19, even as it has impacted us all in many ways, has also laid bare social inequalities that existed long before the pandemic. Paul’s words are a call to live out the gospel through tangible actions of learning and love for our neighbors, as Christ taught us to do.
As in many parts of Latin America, COVID-19 cases are steadily rising in Guatemala, particularly in the capital. While curfews, travel restrictions and social distancing are meant to bolster an already stretched public health system, the large portion of the population that normally makes a living through informal work is unable to make ends meet.
How our team is responding: Our team in Guatemala City is still restricted from traveling to the rural areas, so they are splitting their time between communicating with church leaders in Quiché by phone and working in local relief in the capital. Through the generous gift for relief work from one of our supporting U.S. churches, we have been able to coordinate with local churches in the capital to provide food and medicine to 130 families in vulnerable neighborhoods. We work with local churches because they know the context of their own communities best and together we can work to address both spiritual and physical needs.
The current funds are sufficient for three months, but we anticipate the impacts of this crisis to last longer. If you would like to contribute to this ongoing relief work fund, please donate here. To learn more, please feel free to reach out to us directly.
Status of pastoral training programs & education: Our Biblical training program is currently focused on retooling our programming through other means of communication. While the internet is not an option in most of the rural areas, we have been exploring other ideas via phone and WhatsApp. Throughout the country, schools are struggling to stay connected with their students. Luz y Vida, the school we partner with in Salquil Grande, is using some internet, phone, and written communication to try to keep the kids up to date in their studies.
Our first and foremost request is for prayer. The ministry is changing each day and we are seeking to follow the next steps God has for us. The relief funds received go 100 percent to the families in need in cooperation with the local churches.
During this time we have not reduced salaries of any of the team members based in Guatemala, meaning we still need support so they can continue to adapt our usual programming to a new technological and social landscape.
Thank you so much for your love and support. We have been humbled and encouraged by the prayers and gifts of God’s people as no one has been immune to the challenges of this worldwide pandemic. Praying for all of you that together, we will keep a singular focus on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ that our broken world needs now more than ever.
Sending our love and prayers,
Rick and Deb for our entire HOPE/AGAPE team
It goes without saying that these last few weeks have shown us more than in any time in the history of HOPE, the power of God and the inability of man to control the world around us. Our confidence has been and will continue to be in the love and care of our Heavenly Father. Isaiah 41:10 strengthens us with these words, Isaiah 41:10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
At H.O.P.E. Bible Mission we have ministered in faith for 70 years and there is no reason to change today. Our ministry team in Guatemala at this time is as challenged as we are here in New York City today. The national curfew is 4:00pm to 4:00am. Travel is restricted and all meetings are restricted. People are struggling to get food and living supplies and most work is suspended at this time. The country’s economy is taking a severe blow.
What is our Resolve?
H.O.P.E. Bible Mission was founded to bring spiritual and physical relief to war torn Europe after World War II. Today that mission continues with a different war. Our ministry team is resolved to continue to focus on strengthening the rural church in Guatemala. We will continue to teach leaders to spiritually lead their churches and reach their communities for Christ. We cannot physically travel to the rural areas at this time and our team is preparing creative ways with the limited technology that is available.
Read about the Founding of H.O.P.E. Bible Mission
We will continue to focus on strengthening the rural schools. At this time school is not in session and virtual learning is not an option. We are working with our schools on how to continue to provide a quality education which our children must have in this new world. We are looking at new methods which will involve technology. These are ideas that we have dreamed about addressing in the near future and now they are the vital needs of this new reality.
We will continue to help meet the physical needs of the community in partnership with the local churches with which we have strong relationships. Our medical team is ready to be on the ground caring for those in need. The rural areas do not have hospitals or clinics. Respirators are hours away. Our team is preparing for how we will respond.
For the A.G.A.P.E. partner ministry, for the time being, ministry flights in Guatemala are closed. However, we are allowed to do relief flights. We have the most experienced aviation team for small airplanes in Guatemala for this challenge to reach the rural areas. Eri, our director, just did an emergency evacuation flight for six US women this past Monday, who found themselves stranded in the Peten region unable to get to Guatemala City for the last evacuation flight out to the U.S. You can view an update of this flight on our webpage hopebiblemission.org or our facebook page “Hope Bible Mission.”
Read on our March Blog Post, Flights During Difficult Times" about a recent AGAPE relief flight
What is the Need
First and foremost we need your PRAYERS. We have personally experienced this in the United States. We want to DO something and they tell us that the best thing that we can do is to stay home. In NYC we have been physically restricted but we are in no way spiritually restricted. We are called to Pray. We need all of our HBM supporters to pray.
Second, we do continue to face the financial challenges that many of you are facing. We deeply appreciate each of you whether or not you are able to continue your financial support. We recognize that some will not be able to continue financially, but we so want the continued support in PRAYER.
Many have asked us about our needs at this time. Here is a general budget of our needs as we consider ministry opportunities during this time:
As we mentioned earlier in this letter God has always met the needs of this ministry. There have been days where we went to bed wondering what would happen to our mission financially, to wake up the next day seeing God’s provision. We believe that this is because of the current prayer support and the original vision of a faith based ministry from our founders 70 years ago. Whatever financial or physical situation your church is currently experiencing, we know that prayer is the most vital resource for all of us at this time.
We are praying for you. Please take care of your families and your communities. God has given His church the opportunity to shine.
The HBM Team
This past Friday Rick received a call from a church in Pennsylvania. There were five women from their church who had been serving in the Peten department of Guatemala. (top northeast department of the country) All U.S. citizens had been directed to return to the U.S. and they found themselves in a very remote area without a safe way to reach the evacuation flight to the U.S. from Aurora Airport in Guatemala City. Rick immediately contacted our pilot and director of A.G.A.P.E. ministry, Eri Alas, who within two days was able to receive permission to land at an army base in the Peten . He flew the group out early this morning in a small Cessna 206 so they were able to make the last evacuation flight to the US today.
We are thankful for Eri and our team with AGAPE! When we first came to Guatemala, Eri was a volunteer mechanic in the hangar. He went to seminary and underwent rigorous flight training and now has his commercial pilot’s license. Instead of working for a major airline, his ministry is with A.G.A.P.E., directing this ministry to edify the rural churches and flying to assist various ministry groups to access areas harder to reach in Guatemala. They are in a very difficult situation right now with the entire country in lock down to avoid transmission of COVID-19, especially to remote regions without the medical facilities to care for the sick. Although this is the best way to slow the virus, the economic ramifications are severe for Guatemala and our national team there. Although our teams have had to suspend all classes in person in the Quiche region, they are still working to share biblical teaching and the love of Christ in any way that they can. Please keep the ministries of H.O.P.E. Bible Mission and A.G.A.P.E. in Guatemala in your prayers as we lift each other up here in the US as well.