Missions volunteers bring home deep memoriescomment (0)
September 8, 2011
Guatemala would not have been my choice for my first missions trip but it was God’s. I had been told many things about the do’s and don’ts, the culture, the people, but nothing prepared me for what I found.
I had come to Guatemala to share Christ with lost people and I did.
But what I did not realize was how much the Guatemalan believers of Patmos Baptist Church would impact my life. The love and passion they showed for their lost family members, friends and neighbors were so inspiring. They walked alongside us, the very young, teenagers and adults, some who had taken time off work.
We walked over trails that I would never in my wildest dreams believe I could go over. Together we shared God’s love with a lot of hurting people — people who believed they were not good enough, people who were bitter, people who were lonely, people living deep in sin and people with open hearts waiting to hear the good news of Christ. People just like the ones we come in contact with daily.
The believers of Patmos Baptist taught me a lot about worship and what being on mission for God truly means, and I pray that I will never forget those lessons.
Pinedale BC, Montgomery
Prior to leaving on our journey to Guatemala, I began reading “Live Sent: You Are a Letter” by Jason Dukes. The book’s message is quite challenging and prompted me to examine my daily life and ask, “Am I living sent?” God has sent a message of love to and through me, and I am called to deliver His message to others. This is confirmed in John 20:21b, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” ... I witnessed church members “living sent” as our team worked alongside members of Patmos Baptist Church while in Genova, Guatemala. Several of these faithful, God-loving individuals had taken three days off from their jobs to walk with us through the streets of Genova and the “Amazon-like” forests to visit disengaged church members, the sick and those known to be living a life of darkness. While many of the individuals we spoke to for hours at a time did not make decisions regarding their faith, most had visible signs that God was stirring their hearts. There is no doubt in my mind that the church members will not give up on these individuals just because the volunteers from Alabama are gone. These faithful followers will go out and “be the church” as God intends, and the seeds that we helped sow will be faithfully watered and one day harvested. ... As God is speaking to me and working through me, I desire to live a life that is more than just saved; I desire to be “saved and sent.”
My first overseas missions trip was a great experience. Having promised myself to heed the command to “go and make disciples” after retiring from the U.S. Air Force, God opened the door for me to go to Guatemala. Upon our arrival at the Guatemala City airport, the huge number of family members greeting their loved ones with a hug and a kiss impressed me. As we traveled the countryside, I marveled at the sights and sounds — a man harvesting sugar cane with a machete, women carrying filled baskets on their heads, colorful and overcrowded school buses with loud horns, cowboys herding cows and large fields of coffee, banana and rubber trees across the landscape. ... And Larry and Sarah Plyler’s (our hosts) compassion for the villagers and heart for sharing the gospel was so impressive. Likewise the local church members ... were a great encouragement. ... I will never forget their passion for sharing His life-changing truths with other villagers.
Leaving the comforts of home is healthy for your Christian growth. ... Distractions back home such as work, bills and the stock market disappear when you are giving your testimony or sharing Scripture to a person suffering with physical or emotional pain.
I highly encourage you to go on a missions trip soon. God will bless your service, and you’ll be looking for the opportunity for a return trip, just like me.
This trip to Guatemala was a first for me in many ways. It was my first overseas missions trip, my first time outside of the United States and my first time on an airplane. I had many fears but once we landed in Guatemala and began working with the wonderful people of Guatemala, those fears were replaced with joy. I ... realized one thing: No matter who you are, where you are from or how much money you have, God still loves you. The people of Patmos Baptist Church in Genova showed me what it means to truly love God. They worship our Lord as I have never seen. ... The major highlight of this trip was when a married couple rededicated their lives to Christ and to see them walk into the church service that same evening. God revealed Himself in many ways on this trip, and I learned so many things. The main thing I learned is to always trust God and that He is in control of everything. No matter what you fear, what you don’t like about your life or if you’re scared to leave your comfort zone, God has a plan. He will always provide what is needed.
Our week with Larry and Sarah Plyler ... in Guatemala was exciting, fun and challenging. We spent one day preparing to travel to our missions site. The next three days were spent attending church services and visiting homes in Genova, which is a small, remote town in the Quetzaltenango Department of Guatemala. ... It was incredible to hear these people’s life stories and about their struggles and triumphs.
One man’s story stood out to me. Santiago is about 50 years old. For 30 years, he was engaged in a lifestyle of sin. He also practiced witchcraft, but he recently became a Christian and had denounced his previous lifestyle. He even asked the church members to come and help him burn his witchcraft paraphernalia. ... Santiago completely repented from his old self and allowed Christ to completely transform his life.
Everyone we came in contact with had a story, and those faces and stories will remain in my heart and mind forever.
Bush Memorial BC, Troy
Chris Mills led the five-member missions team to Guatemala Aug. 20–27 as part of the partnership Alabama Baptists have with Guatemalan Baptists. The team worked with Patmos Baptist Church in Genova, Guatemala. This was not his first missions experience, but it was for half the team. Chris, an associate in communications services for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions and a member of First Baptist Church, Montgomery, shares about the experience as well as how he has been changed.