Soaring Eagle Ministry takes gospel to K’ekchi in Guatemalacomment (0)
June 28, 2012
By Maggie Walsh
When retired Southern Baptist representative Ted Lindwall first presented the gospel to the K’ekchi people group in 1964, he had no way of knowing what that seed would sprout.
Since Lindwall’s initial planting, more people have traveled to Guatemala to cultivate this crop, including a team of missionaries that have come together under the wingspan of Soaring Eagle Ministry.
Conceived in David McGowin’s mind in 2004, Soaring Eagle Ministry has been traveling to Guatemala twice a year for the last eight years to minister to the K’ekchi people group. Each trip lasts about 17 days.
McGowin, who is pastor of New Freedom Baptist Church, Cullman, in West Cullman Baptist Association said “the wondrous thing” is that the K’ekchi have formed 360 churches since the gospel was first introduced to them 48 years ago.
Soaring Eagle Ministry is a “faith ministry,” McGowin said, dedicated to teaching, training and growing K’ekchi pastors so that they can better lead their congregations and reach out to those in need.
“Our goal is to be supportive of, walk along with and equip pastors and churches to better know and understand the Bible,” he said.
The Soaring Eagle team consists of Jane and Wendall Parker, retired International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries; Fran Eachus, longtime K’ekchi translator and Guatemalan missionary; Jim McGriff, retired IMB missionary; and McGowin.
Although it is not a part of the IMB, McGriff describes Soaring Eagle as working “in harmony with the strategy of the IMB to accomplish the goals they have set.”
The K’ekchi people’s numerous churches have been organized under three associations that are members of what is translated as “The Guatemala Baptist Convention of Churches.”
On each trip to Guatemala the Soaring Eagle team travels from Cobán to Las Casas to Sayaxché, leading conferences that provide “more advanced training of pastors,” McGriff said.
McGowin said he enjoys teaching the pastors because of their enthusiasm and hunger for understanding the Bible. “They’re like a dry sponge in a wet dish — they just soak it up,” he said.
Soaring Eagle has been able to provide “round-trip” travel scholarships for each pastor who attends one of the three conferences through the assistance of several Southern Baptist churches. The churches’ support also allowed the team to provide each pastor with a 39-page commentary on the 2012 conference theme “Death and Dying,” written by McGowin and translated by Eachus.
Wendall and Jane Parker, who both speak K’ekchi, joined the Soaring Eagle team to assist in the legwork and logistics of the operation.
The Parkers, who are 84 and 82 years old, have already traveled to Guatemala twice this year.
Jane Parker detailed the radical change that the village of Sayaxché has undergone since the gospel was introduced to the area.
“I can remember when there wasn’t a church,” she said. “We would go to the town on Sunday and have to walk over people drunk from the night before.”
Now the village has a church with more than 100 families attending, led by a pastor trained by Soaring Eagle Ministry.
The impact that Soaring Eagle has had on the K’ekchi people “is not measurable,” McGriff said. It is a multiplication process that begins with training a pastor and flows into congregations and communities.
One such example of the outflow from this ministry is the formation of a Guatemalan women’s group whose name is translated as “women’s missionary union.”
The women’s group in the Petén region of Guatemala raised 96,000 quetzal (approximately $12,500) to support their full-time K’ekchi missionaries and aid the construction of a meetinghouse in Sayaxché.
Jane Parker described Soaring Eagle as a “prayer ministry and economic ministry,” requiring the aid of fellow Christians to join the team in praying for the K’ekchi people. There are currently 56 people across Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Kentucky involved in the prayer ministry for the team.
Soaring Eagle Ministry also has a variety of ministries available for local needs. For more information, including how to get involved in the prayer ministry, call McGowin at 256-775-6878 or email email@example.com.