All praise and glory to our sovereign God and Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who worked out every detail and through the guidance of His Holy Spirit. We give thanks for the honor to serve and go to the nations to make disciples. It is not easy to leave our families behind to help other families but it is all for the glory of God alone.
We started our journey on June 7, 2019. A small team Alan, his wife Nanci and Jonathan would fly from Baltimore at around 3:25 pm and another team member Brandon Santana would leave from Pittsburg at around 3:06 pm to unite together in Atlanta. The Baltimore team left without issue, except that they forced Alan and Jonathan to check their carry-on baggage because of the lack of space on the plane. They arrived in Atlanta and just as they were feet off the ground a terrible storm hit and the pilot was forced to pull up quickly to avoid a potential accident. Now back in the air, the pilot said that we can't wait for the storm out as we are in need of gasoline. So we had to fly 40 minutes to a small airport not designed for commercial airlines in Huntsville, Alabama. We were there for about an hour when Jonathan received a text from Brandon that he was still in Pittsburg as the plane had mechanical problems and they were forced off the plane. The Baltimore team arrived in Atlanta but missed their flight to Guatemala and now Brandon's flight was delayed two more times and he would not leave Pittsburg until 10:30 pm. The Baltimore could not get their bags that were checked so they had to purchase a shirt and catch the shuttle to a hotel for the evening. Brandon finally arrived after being in the Pittsburgh airport all day and checked into the hotel at around 2:30 am.
The following morning June 8, 2019, the team now all together and took the shuttle at 7 am to take off for Guatemala at 10:30 am. After some delay, we arrived in Guatemala for about an hour and a half late only to find that our checked bags were not there and would not arrive until the evening. Fortunately, God blessed us with a wonderful, humble and patient missionary friend, Anita who was waiting for us. After getting settled at her house and eating some lunch we traveled to a town called Villa Lobos where we have a feeding program. There we taught theology with questions and answers while Brandon did beatbox. It was a unique way to engage the children, teach theology, while having fun. Jonathan then shared the gospel and full counsel of God. After the children sang some songs the team assisted in serving food to all of the children. Once complete the team helped to clean up as the special church service would begin in less than an hour at 7 pm. At the church service, Alan and Brandon with the translation help from Jonathan shared the gospel breaking down Ephesians 2. Then Jonathan preached a sermon for 45 minutes on Ephesians 1 regarding the doctrine of adoption. After the sermon, an older gentleman said to Jonathan that he never heard a message like that and he will never forget it and we will be in his prayers. We left there and went back to the airport for our bags.
On June 9, 2019, we traveled to San Juan Sacatepequez in an indigenous community in the mountains. You have to drive down a dirt road, park and then carry all your supplies through trails, across a stream, and up the hill. There we preached a sermon at the church and shared the gospel with the children. We then feed all of the children and had fun with pinatas. Later we gave the family there the funds needed for their son Pedro to have brain drainage and surgery.
That evening after returning to Guatemala City we decided to attend an English speaking church called Union Church. This is a church mainly for missionaries to gather. It was a time to relax and just enjoy the fellowship and worship together. Jonathan has dear missionary friends Randy and Brenda who go there and it was also a good opportunity to see one another. The sermon was on Romans 1:18-34 and while in a time of prayer after communion Brenda came to Jonathan and asked him to come with her. Jonathan walked outside with her and there was a young twenty-something-year-old man. He is Guatemala but spoke English and preferred English. He lived in the United States the majority of his life and was deported to place he no longer knows very well. He said he never reads the Bible but today he did and he has a lot of questions. So he looked for a church and found us there. He longed for peace and answers and so Jonathan shared the full gospel with him. When he came to the part about how God bore the wrath that he deserved, Jonathan faught back the tears and when he looked at Andrew's face tears were streaming down from his eyes. Jonathan told him what it really means to believe and be a believer, explained repentance. He mentioned a quote by John MacArthur and the young man said I have heard of him and Paul Washer too. Jonathan continued to emphasize what true repentance is, the importance of the church in our sanctification and how to pray. Randy, our missionary friend looked over at Jonathan and said well I guess God is sovereign and Jonathan pointed to his shirt which had the word sovereign on it with the Charles Spurgeon quote saying that "The sovereignty of God is the pillow we can rest our head upon". It was God who leads us and Andrew to that church and we pray to see Andrew one day with us in glory.
On June 10, 2019, we connected with a wonderful driver named Israel aka Oki Doki (A nickname missionaries gave him years ago). He is an amazing man who not only drove us but passed out tracts every moment he had and helped us in praying for people and sharing the gospel. He drove us 4 hours to Chiquimula where we stayed in a hostel at a local church. We went to the trash dump where nearly 80 families live and work recycling bottles and cans. It was a heartbreaking place, not just for the conditions but for the mentality they had developed which prevented them from seeing this is not their only option. There we spent time with the people to get to know them and their stories, distributed donated clothing and Jonathan shared the gospel to the whole community with a street preacher microphone.
From there we went to the national hospital and Casa Abel. Casa Abel is a non-profit no connected to the hospital but was given a lot to build on the hospital's property. They provide shelter for the families of patients as they are not allowed to stay with them. Image your child in the hospital and you live far away and you can't stay by your child's side. Case Abel provides a place for those families. We entered the hospital and visited the women's section. It was not a clean place, stains were on the bed and the patients were not cared for, there was a sadness in the room. Jonathan shared the gospel with the women and later they prayed for each one. We then did the same thing for the men. While with the men, our driver Israel was in the hall with a man who was attacked with a machete. He was in bad condition and hard-hearted and did not want to speak. Israel gave him one of our Ray Comfort tracts and shared the gospel. After much time with him, the hardness went away and the man began to repent of his sins.
On June 11, 2019, we went to the local prison. After entering through the main wall, and security we walked over to a soccer field and called over a group of men. Jonathan connected his portable microphone and began to preach the gospel. We then walked inside the jail, there were hundreds of prisoners behind the bars and very few guards. We walked through the bars through the prisoners and to the back where there was a church. Brandon and Alan shared the gospel using Ephesians 2 and then Jonathan preached a sermon on 1 Samuel 8, a King in place of the King of Kings. It was a hard-hitting, gospel-driven, theological sermon with a call to repentance. Nelson stepped up and desired to be saved and many throughout the prison heard the gospel.
We then preached the gospel before the Police Department. They were hard-hearted but between Jonathan and Israel's message they heard the truth and we pray that God will regenerate their hearts. From there we went purchased paint to donate and returned to Casa Abel shelter and painted the shelter and gave them donated medications which they greatly needed. After all of that, we drove 45 minutes and did an hour radio show. Jonathan's dear friends Karen and Lizardo have a show they do each week. Normally it is on Wednesday but they moved it to Tuesday so that we can be interviewed. They interviewed the team, asking them their favorite moments on the mission as Jonathan translated. Later Jonathan shared a mini-sermon regarding the body of Christ and how we must be united, the need to trust in the sufficient Word of God and a call for true revival.
On June 12, 2019, we had breakfast with our friends and drive 5 hours from Chiquimula to Escuintla as Jonathan wanted to see the children he has known since they were children. They parked the bus, walked down the street and the children started running. It was wonderful to see them all, find out how they were doing, give them a little gift, give them gospel tracts and share the gospel. We then returned to Guatemala City, had a lovely time with friends and Anita who was wonderful during the whole mission and prepared to return home the next day.
This was a unique mission, this was gospel-centered in every way. We were lead by the Spirit and combined service with preaching the Word of God. Hundreds of people heard the gospel by a small group of believers who have been saved by grace. Many more heard the gospel through the radio and many more will hear as the message is passed on from person to person.
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)