Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Different Kind of Rain

I wanted to write a follow-up post about our most recent trip to Guatemala. This was the first time that a group had gone from our church on a church-to-church partnership as a part of the larger convention-to-convention partnership between the BGCM and Guatemalan Baptist Conventions. As I shared in the previous post, the Lord's blessings upon us were abundant and very evident each step of the way. From the miraculous provision of translators to the wonderful response of the children and the churches to the VBS activities, the time in the public schools, and the evening training conferences, all in all the week was a mountaintop experience--both literally and spiritually.

The two churches that we conducted the VBS sessions in were on mountaintops on the opposite sides of a valley where the main highway runs through the town. Unlike previous trips to the area when the skies had been mostly clear each day, we had overcast skies most days. In fact, we were in the midst of the clouds on several occasions as they rolled in over the mountains and surrounded us. Despite that, there was no rainfall until after our work in Cantel had finished and we were returning toward Guatemala City. That day it did rain considerably, a rather unusual occurence as this isn't their rainy season.

The title of this post though suggests a different kind of rain and that's what I wanted to share about in this follow-up post. I received an email on Monday or Tuesday of this week from Carol, our partnership liaison in Guatemala, who was an invaluable aid to us in the children's activities this past week. Her heart is in children's ministry and she directs that aspect of the convention's work there in addition to facilitating partnership activities. She had received a phone call from the pastor of the Joshua 1:9 Baptist church in Cantel, the first church where we worshipped on Sunday evening and where we held the first 2 days of VBS. He told her that it was "raining children" in their church. They had experienced a tremendous influx of new children as a result of the week's activities and had already had to name some new Sunday school teachers to respond to the need. I'm overjoyed to hear such an exciting report from this church.

I also failed to mention in the previous post that the pastor of the other church where we held VBS on the third day and conducted the evening training conferences has taken to heart many of the concepts shared in our previous pastoral training workshops--especially in the area of strategic planning. He had worked up a detailed plan for follow-up of the activity in the public school where we went on Tuesday (with 562 kids enrolled) and presented it to the school's director while we were there that day. It was well received by the director and a lady who functions as a coordinator for community relationships. The church hopes to offer after-school activities for children that would include tutoring and marketable skills as well as conferences for parents. It is exciting to see these churches respond to the challenge of impacting their community in positive ways with the gospel--living missionally.

This Sunday evening our team will have the entire worship service to share a report about our experiences in Guatemala this past week. I'm thrilled to be able to share with the church body what God is doing there.

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