I arrived safely home from Guatemala yesterday afternoon after spending 8 days in a very beautiful country--both in terms of natural beauty and the people who live there. It was my privilege to teach 33 students, the great majority of them who serve as pastors, during a weeklong course on Theology, Culture, and Mission. We focused together on some areas in which the churches need to address the overwhelming needs they confront in society as they are carrying out the Great Commission. I was very encouraged by the enthusiastic response with which the course was received and by the high level of participation and interaction present.
In meeting with Guatemalan Baptist Convention leaders to discuss the partnership agreement with the BGCM, they shared with us a proposed plan for working in some of the westernmost regions of Guatemala that have received less outside assistance in terms of volunteers teams than other areas. They invited us to offer a centralized 2-day training event for pastors in that area every 6 months during the next 3 years, as well as seeking to match up individual Missouri churches with Guatemalan churches to carry out some hands-on projects. It was a very positive experience.
On Sunday, we were able to participate in the 60th anniversary celebration of the work of the Guatemalan Baptist Convention. Some 800 or 900 were present from many of the 50+ Baptist churches of the capital, and the theme was built around the faithfulness of God in the past, present, and future. Three different messages of 10 minutes each (is that possible for a Baptist preacher?) dealt with this theme. I had the opportunity of bringing the final reflection about God's faithfulness in the future and basically said we could trust God to be faithful in the future because of His faithfulness in the past, because the Bible assures us that He is faithful, and that He promises to be with us in the future (Jer. 29:11-14a).
We got to do some sightseeing as well and thoroughly enjoyed the ancient city of Antigua and the beautiful Lake Atitlan with its 3 volcanoes. I had mixed emotions as we left--glad to be heading home on the one hand, but sorry to bid farewell to some outstanding brothers and sisters in Christ whom I have grown to love and appreciate in these days.