Jim Hill and I had an outstanding trip to Guatemala this past week, returning Sunday afternoon. We arrived in Guatemala City on Tuesday evening and spent the night at the seminary in a guest apartment. We left at 7:30 the next morning for about a 5 1/2 drive west to Quetzaltenango, the second largest city in the country. There we ate lunch at the hotel and then moved directly into our first teaching time with the 55 pastors and leaders who were present. We spent the first session dealing with some issues relating to ecclesiology and then shifted to the topic of helping a church achieve a vision for what God wants them to do in the future. That evening we had a worship service and I was privileged to preach on "The Centrality of the Word," using Acts 17 as a text. The next morning we had two more teaching sessions, dealing with mobilizing volunteers in the church and helping them find their place of service (borrowing some ideas from Warren's SHAPE for ministry) and then a final session on stewardship. The topics we addressed in the teaching times were those that the Guatemalan Baptist Convention leadership had asked us to focus on.
We wrapped up after lunch on Thursday with a time of sharing insights gained and also we were able to donate a set of books to each pastor and leader present. Those included a concordance, a book on hermeneutics, a 4-volume biblical commentary set, and a copy of Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven Life. Many commented that they didn't own any book other than a copy of the Bible, so they were thrilled to receive these resources to help them in their ministries. Those present were very gracious in their comments and expressions of thanks for our participation in the training event.
After a long drive back to Guatemala City on Thursday evening, we spent Friday doing some sightseeing in the old city of Antigua before meeting with the leadership of WorldconneX and the Guatemalan Convention to put the finishing touches on our meeting scheduled for Saturday. The Saturday gathering turned out to be a wonderful time of hearing reports from different convention ministries and then some very profitable time spent in small groups, discussing the priorities that they Convention itself had identified in an earlier visioning conference hosted by WorldconneX in the fall of 2004. Significant progress had been made toward addressing many of these priority concerns and some new ideas surfaced as well in the discussion to help the Convention continue to advance in those areas.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip and a great time of fellowshipping with and learning from our Guatemalan Baptist brothers and sisters.