Last week, Yesenia and I attended a meeting at the Casa de Dios Church, a mega-church with an 11,000 seat forum and a pastor Guatemalans see on television a lot.
On this day, the church gathered a sampling of Guatemalan organizations to show off the diversity and reach of Casa de Dios’ charitable endeavors to a visiting group of Israeli and American missionaries.
At one point, the event leader asked each Guatemalan organization to explain who they are and what they do. It was an impressive group.
By the time we got up, we heard from a medical group that brings life-saving surgeries to the country, someone who built multiple schools, agriculture specialists, a repatriation assistance group, and a couple who starts businesses run by and for indigenous women. The visitors clapped for each mission.
When our turn came, I explained how our feeding program evolved into a children’s ministry, a women’s ministry, and a youth church with a great year-end celebration to spread God's Word.
It was crickets, relatively speaking.
I slid back to my seat as the next speaker talked about bringing electricity to jungle communities and achieving world peace.
Driving home, Yesenia recounted the words of Cash Luna, the pastor of Casa de Dios who made a short appearance. He took the opportunity to brag about his church's presence after hurricanes, mudslides, earthquakes, floods, and the Fuego disaster.
Yesenia smiled when she told me she was at every one of those disasters and events, too. Sometimes, she was with mission teams. Other times, she was with her father’s church. Most recently, it was just her and me and a couple of volunteers.
Food, blankets, and water offer tangible assistance; but prayers and emotional support were always the biggest reason she went.
Yesenia’s face shone as she remembered moments, smiling in another world as we drove home.
We don’t have a big organization. There are a couple of dozen volunteers who pop in and out during the year, but mostly, it is Yesenia and me with a couple of core helpers.
Over the years, I have called our group “small and mighty”, a phrase I unabashedly stole from a friend who used it to describe a five-man mission team I was a part of back in 2012.
During the Volcano Fuego disaster, we let larger organizations dump basic foods, water, and blankets into the shelters. We focused on other important, but largely forgotten needs.
We wound up supplying more than a hundred different items in various quantities to shelters throughout Escuintla. Some deliveries were vital, like repair parts to keep a kitchen in operation or specialized medicines from the city.
Others were fun and occasionally bordered on frivolous.
But only two items prompted people to get up and chase us down.
One of them was elastic hair ties. The least-expensive item we bought produced some of the biggest smiles.
The other was Bibles. There is a thought in my head that it was not so much the books as it was the presence of Faith in the shelters.
When we handed out Bibles, it was not uncommon for the recipient to reach out and touch our arms or solicit a hug or a prayer.
“Dios te bendiga,” they said. God bless you.
No other product caused that type of reaction; not even our elastic hair ties. For some reason, I thought about that while Yesenia waxed nostalgic about other days.
At the Casa de Dios meeting, we learned that our feeding program is the longest-running operation in the church’s mission assistance program. As such, our name appeared above all those bigger organizations on the sign-in list.
Small, but mighty indeed.
We love feeding, teaching, and supporting women and children, and allowing someone to tie their hair back. We are blessed beyond belief to deliver the Bible every day… even when we don’t have books in our hands.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We’re going to need it for many years to come.