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.
Looking back on what God has done with the ministry of HBM in 2019 leaves us thankful and anticipating our next steps in 2020. Many have used the year “2020” to relate to seeing more clearly. We are thankful that God has already given us a clear vision of the work that needs to be done in the rural communities of Guatemala to share and live the Gospel.
This past year we have experienced the blessing of being used by God. We have unique ministry partnerships that we have been able to develop over the last 15 years. Each of these partners in ministry has as the fundamental principle to share the Gospel of Christ. Each of these partners uses education and enablement to build the body of Christ and touch the community.
This ministry started as an aviation ministry to bring relief to the rural communities. HBM has partnered with AGAPE to bring Biblical teaching to these rural areas where there is little or no Biblical training. In the early days the plane was vital to get to these Bible programs. Over the last ten years the roads have improved enough to make going by land a viable option. It can take up to 10 hours but it is significantly less expensive and we can reach more locations.
The plane is still used for medical relief and other medical trips. Income from the plane also supports 20% of the budget for the Bible teaching programs.
This past year the AGAPE team has made more than 30 ministry trips to 3 regions where they have discipled and trained more than 80 pastors and church leaders. This has directly impacted more than 20 churches and multiple communities. In 2019 we fully completed the programs in Ilom and Pombolse. The leaders in these churches are now more prepared to teach correctly the Word of God and to share more effectively the Gospel in their communities.
In 2020 the AGAPE team will be discipling and teaching the Bible in the towns of Samochoch, Chajul, Chiguatal y la Taña. Through a generous gift we were able to add the additional community. We need $5,000 a year to fully support the Bible education program in one community. The AGAPE team will also continue to follow up with the churches of Ilom and Pombolse to provide further help as needed.
In 2020 we will have three short term missions teams that will partner with the local churches of Chel, Ilom, and Pombolse with evangelistic outreaches. This demonstrates a fundamental ministry principle as those who are students become partners in the ministry. There are also former students in the programs who now travel to other communities to teach what they have learned.
Salud que Transforma (Health the Transforms)
This unique ministry is led by a physician who is an ordained minister. He understands that the medical ministry is not a tool of evangelizing but a result of accepting Christ. Our local pastors and church leaders have the desire to live the love of Christ through caring for those in need. This ministry provides direct medical care as well as training of local first responders.
We have an active clinic in LaPerla and a satellite clinic in Chel. These communities are more than 2 hours by rough roads to the nearest small hospital. We have had 11 ministry trips this year and have seen more than 6,000 patients. They have had health Issues such as pneumonia, hypertension, diabetes, urinary infection, prenatal care, etc. In each of these trips the Gospel has been preached and His children have been physically strengthened.
The other key part to these ministry trips is training local first responders who can address the more basic needs. For example, over the past few years In the town of LaPerla cases of infant mortality has been reduced to zero. This has been maintained through ongoing teaching of midwives and mothers.
The challenges that we face are lack of equipment and resources to address the greater needs in the surrounding area. In 2020 our objective is to establish a clinic that will grow into a larger medical facility serving communities within two to three hours of Chel.
One of the greatest challenges facing the rural areas of Guatemala is lack of accessibility to quality education. Less than 25% of the students who complete their elementary education continue on to middle school. A smaller fraction have the opportunity to attend high school Without education most have very few options, especially in this changing world.
Run:Hope addresses this need with a three part program. First is the most basic need of establishing schools in partnership with local leadership and assisting the students to financially attend. The families are heavily invested in this education as well as the leaders of the local churches. The objective is that this school will not be “our” project but that it will be “their” school. When leaders are invested in the school it will be established into the fabric of the community. Our former Bible students are key to this leadership.
The second aspect is improving the education of the schools through the further education of the teachers. The typical teacher has a high school education. The Run:Hope ministry provides for the teachers a scholarship to attend college. It is still a significant sacrifice since they have to travel weekly at least two hours to attend classes. Run:Hope also provides two enrichment conferences focusing on teaching in a Christian context as well as ongoing coaching. We have a team coming later this year from Living Faith Community Church to be a part of this enrichment.
The third part of the ministry is community engagement. Each class is expected to develop a project to positively impact their community. This encourages the students to use what they have learned to support their community.
This past year Run:Hope has provided middle school education for 150 middle school students and elementary education for 90 students. 26 teachers have received a scholarship to attend college and successfully completed their studies for the year. Two community projects were successfully completed by the students in partnership with North Shore Community Church.
In 2020 the plan of Run:Hope is to expand the program into at least one new community. We already have registered 28 teachers for this year. We have also developed a student sponsorship program which makes it easier for donors to participate more personally with their support. We are asking our supporters to consider sponsoring a student for 35 dollars a month which will provide tuition to attend school, a portion of the scholarship for their teacher, materials, and resources for the community service project. These young people are the key to the future of these communities.
Viala Clinic and Training Center
Twelve years ago God put it on the heart of Rick and Dr. Estrada to purchase a piece of land in the Viala neighborhood of Chel. The vision was to develop a clinic and Bible training center to serve Chel and the communities within a two to three hour walk. The resources were not in place at that time and HBM used the land as a coffee mill for a few seasons. The coffee program has continued but we have found it more effective to process the coffee in LaPerla.
Last year God put it on our hearts once again the need for this facility and we have decided to build Viala Clinic and Training Center. This facility will eventually become a small hospital with the dual function of providing a place to train medical first responders, BIblical leaders, and educators. The site is ready for buildings and we will use the drying patio that was donated and built many years ago by our partner church Calvary Bible Church from Lewiston, PA. God always has the bigger plan.
Our first step has been to form an association of pastors from Chel to be a part of the leadership of this project. This ministry is an arm of the local churches and they need to be our partners from the beginning. The church leaders that are participating are participants from the AGAPE Bible programs. The next step is to educate the community about the reason for the existence of the facility. We have a short term missions group coming from Oversea Chinese Mission coming to assist in this step. Later this year we also have a team coming from North Shore Community church. The community needs to be an active participant of this project.
Phase I of the facility will be to build a small clinic that will be operational by June. Our initial budget for Phase I is $30,000 which does not include the equipment for the clinic. Our goal is to have Phase 1 completed by July with equipment when the team from North Shore comes to help us continue to Phase II.
As we begin this year please join us this week as we pray.
The rural areas of Quiche, Guatemala are filled with talented, creative, capable hard-working people who are do their best to care for their families and communities. They are not asking for charity. They are looking for the opportunity to address their personal and community needs in the face of limited educational and economic opportunities. Schools at best provide education up to the sixth grade with an inconsistent school calendar. The agrarian economy is largely dependent on coffee which is controlled by profit margins of entities far away. The opportunity for medical care is inconsistent and the majority are hours away from a diagnosis and medicine. And most importantly the spiritual communities are often led by well meaning but poorly trained leaders.
H.O.P.E. Bible Mission is responding to these needs based on two foundational principles. First that the basis for all solutions is Spiritual and we begin with the local church. We believe that the transformation that occurs when accepting Christ as Savior is what motivates leaders to care for others. The Spiritual solution through Christ gives hope to keep working in the face of adversity providing an eternal perspective. Discipled churches share this hope with others. Spiritually transformed church communities care for the needs of their communities as an expression of the love of Christ.
The second foundational principle is that all solutions occur with partnership. The need is for partnership not paternalism. True change will only occur through programs and projects where resources from all those involved are pooled to achieve solutions. We believe that our brothers and sisters of the rural communities are vital partners as together we each provide our strengths and experience.
In many of these communities we have established a partnership through Biblical training. In partnership with these local leaders we have been able provide middle school education, medical clinics and church edification. Now God has given us the opportunity to take a significant step forward in this partnership with the establishment of the Viala Community Clinic and Training Center which is named after the neighborhood where we are building.
Our objective with the Viala project is to establish a small hospital and training center that will serve the communities within two hours of Chel. Viala will provide consistent desperately needed medical care. The facility will be the central point for the Biblical, Medical and School Education programs. Viala will be the center for building solutions with these communities.
The men in this picture are key leaders in the community of Chel. We are working in partnership with them working together to build the Viala Clinic and Training Center. These are leaders who have been taught in our Bible programs. Their churches have been trained in children’s ministry. Their sick have been helped through medical teaching and care. Their young people are able to attend school. We are their partners in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Please keep this project in prayer as God provides wisdom and finances needed to achieve this dream.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24
Why the “Run“ in Run:Hope?
The rural areas of Guatemala are facing incredible economic and social challenges which require bigger solutions than simply sending financial aid. One key challenge is access to quality education through high school. The “Run” of Run:Hope speaks of preparation and perseverance to run the race of life. Both parents and students need to recognize the value of education even though it does not produce short term change of life. With the dedication of our teachers, support from our parents, and the hard work of our students we are seeing results.
In our Christian school in Salquil Grande our students on an average are 1- 2 years ahead of the public school. The female enrollment in our community middle schools has increased by 50%. In all of our schools 90% of the teachers are increasing their abilities by pursuing further education some traveling 4 or more hours on a weekly basis.
It is a challenging race that God has given to us. The apostle Paul says that in the race of life we should “run in such a way as to get the prize. Paul tells us that anyone can run the Race of Life but only those who are prepared and run with a purpose will persevere. The Race that Paul is talking about is even greater than the race for education in our schools. It is a race to become the person that God has created us to be through Christ. We want our students to persevere to achieve their education. We want our students to realize who they are in Christ.
We have many partners in this Race. There are financial supporters. For $35 a month a student can attend school and through this monthly support teachers are going back to school. There are short term mission groups that assist in various projects. And we have those who raise funds through running. The recent participation of Run:Hope runners in the Run The River 5K raised over $5,000. We appreciate all of you because together with God's power we will finish the Race.
On September 24th we were able to place the remains of Blanche Harkinson in the cemetery with her parents in North Haven, Maine. It took some time to trace the location of her parents and to make the arrangements with the local cemetery committee. The final step will be placing a stone provided by the Veterans administration. We are thankful for the many years that Blanche served the Lord with H.O.P.E. Bible Mission. She has been with the Lord for several years now and we are thankful that we have been able to show this final act of respect to her memory. We will continue to honor her memory as we serve the Lord in fulfilling the mission that God has given to H.O.P.E. Bible Mission in the rural areas of Guatemala.
1 Peter 4:10-11
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
To our Partners in the Ministry,
We often share with you about the partnership that we have with our brothers and sister in the Ixil triangle of Guatemala. We have told you about the pastors who are diligently studying the Word of God to lead their churches and share Christ with their communities. We have shared with you about the teachers who are faithfully studying and teaching in the schools to provide a quality character forming education for our young learners. And we have shared about the medical volunteers who faithfully improve their skills and use that knowledge by caring for others.
Each of these CoWorkers is a blessing. And yet there are others who do not tend to get as much attention. Those who quietly serve behind the scenes. One of those was our dear sister Anna. Anna has touched the life of almost every one of our team members. She was instrumental in every team that we took to the Chel community. Without her the projects would have been more difficult. Anna, along with her daughters was the dear sister who prepared our food and took care of our housing. She used her gifts to serve. And now the Lord has taken her home.
Every short term missions team member that I have spoken to speaks fondly of the time that they had with Anna. She was a wonderful cook. She kept a tidy home. She loved the Lord deeply and glorified him by serving others. We have been blessed by the service of Anna. She is and will be missed. And we praise God that our dear sister is with Him in Glory. Please pray for the family of Anna.
The HBM Team
Anna's Family and some members of the HBM team
There is an empty kitchen in Chel, Guatemala.
Most people in this world will never know that Ana has gone to be with the Lord. Most people will never know her quiet servant heart as she lovingly served our ministry teams. Most people will never have the opportunity to be the beneficiary of her amazing cooking. Most people will never have the chance to sit by her stove with her and share life stories.
I am privileged that God allowed me to be one of the few. Many of our teams have also been blessed by the service of Ana and her daughters providing food and clean place to sleep. This partnership will not be forgotten and the lives that have been changed through this ministry will always be indebted to her acts of service.
Ana leaving this earth is our loss and it is her gain as she is with her Savior. My encouragement to all is to take those precious moments to slow down and learn from each other. Slow down and enjoy the blessings of fellowship. Grow in your relationships because some day another kitchen will be empty.
Our prayers are with her husband and family. I am blessed to have known them all. Ana, I am looking forward to meeting you again in heaven.
2 Corinthians 4:16
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
“What can I do?” This is a question that is often asked of me when people hear about the needs in other countries such as Guatemala. They listen to the fact that less then 15% of the children where we serve have the opportunity to attend middles school. They learn about communities where thousands have to travel hours on paths and dirt roads to receive basic medical care. They are burdened to hear about churches where the Pastors have never been Biblically discipled or trained. “What can I do?”
In July we were blessed with a team from North Shore Community church. They asked that question and the answer for them was to go. They blessed us with their desire to serve in any way possible. They worked alongside our middle school students in community projects. They taught children in the local church. The led in the church services and their elders taught in the Pastoral discipleship program. They answered the call and left Guatemala blessed by their partnership.
What can you do? Some of you can go and we look forward to your partnership in Guatemala. Many of you have answered the call by financially supporting HBM and this support has allowed the team in Guatemala to continue to serve. All of you can pray. The ministries of HBM have at their center the renewal of the inner man. This is a spiritual ministry. We are called to help those in physical need and share the love of Christ through our actions. As we share this love we point all people to the only hope that will not cause them to lose heart. This is salvation through Jesus Christ.
Thank you for asking the question “What can I do?” Thank you for doing your part.
This month we would like to share with you a story about a very dear brother in Guatemala. His name is Santiago Batz. Like so many other young men he went to the U.S. to earn money to support his family. There are many who are able to make it to the U.S. and who use those earnings to do things like build homes of concrete and start small businesses.
Santiago went with high hopes only to be confronted with tragedy when he suffered a serious accident. Two of his friends were killed and he was left with a serious back injury that left him in a wheelchair. Not only was he not able to build his house, he is incapable of physical labor. But as you can see from the smile on his face God used tragedy for good.
Santiago returned to Guatemala and has dedicated his life to serving God becoming one of the key leaders of the local church. Santiago has joined our Biblical Leadership program and travels a distance to join the training. His life is simple and he relies on God to provide everything from a wheelchair to his basic needs. Santiago is the most joyful student in the class and has risen from tragedy to being an example of the joy of the Lord. Our lead teacher Neri wrote, “we are continually surprised at the resolve of these types of students.”
Please pray for Santiago and his fellow students as they study God’s Word and lead the local church. Pray that God will give us the resources and wisdom to bring the resources and support that our students needs to minister in their own communities. And as always we praise God for all of our faithful supporters.