Life and family translates into growth and change. But change brings challenge. The basic challenges faced at Fe Viva World Missions in rural Guatemala are the same root challenges faced in Canada. Our response, whether Guatemalan or Canadian, is rooted in the depth and quality of our relationships, first with Jesus Christ and then within our families.
How do we measure the quality of life for families in diverse communities in our world? The measurement is not based upon the economic state or level of development of a nation. Whatever the church allows in the communities they belong to is a measure of the health of that given community. Life is valuable and the family is the place where relationships are built and strengthened; where we have healthy families we will have healthy communities. It is a truth, however, that broken families, orphaned children, neglected widows, caring for disabled people, poverty and injustice, abortion (whether legal or illegal), abuse, alcoholism and prostitution are common challenges in both Guatemala and Canada.
They challenge our governments and families, but more important, they come to the church of the living God looking for solutions and wisdom. In Canada, we are proud to boast of government-run and funded healthcare and a social system that cares for the sick and vulnerable. In Guatemala, the church, through foreign missions, has built and still provides the majority of social and medical care without government support.
This is the case with Kim and Lynn Weiler, the founders of Fe Viva and Casa Esperanza Children’s Home, a home that rescues orphaned, abandoned, homeless and abused children. The government and the Guatemalan people welcome and commend their willingness to share God’s love and the financial resources to build and rebuild the family. This has been the case for decades where foreigners come and help build up the country. There has been growth and change in the church and there is a new ownership and responsibility growing for the works of service by the local believers. Recently, a local pastor shared, “When we (Guatemalans) begin to take care of our own children and widows, then our nation will change. We have sat back and watched our Canadian brothers do our job for far too long! It is time for us to walk in the love of God for our own people.”
There is fruit already growing up in Guatemala of local churches and pastors taking God at his word and being the hands and feet of Jesus, even if they don’t have the dinero like their Canadian counterparts. I recently attended a ground breaking walk-a-thon in Villa Nueva to raise funds and awareness for a new children’s home, Casa Alabbanza, that Fe Viva and partners are opening. The entire event was planned, funded and run by local churches. This was outward evidence of the Guatemalan church and hearts that are passionate to see transformation in their children, families and nation. They are providing a covering for their own in partnership with Canadian brothers.
We brought 25 children from Casa Esperanza Children’s Home to participate in the walk and to be living testimonies of the power of God to take a rejected orphan and make him an accepted son. One of our 15-year-old girls shared about how she had lived on the streets after running away at the age of 13. She became pregnant and gave birth to her unwanted son and the justice system became involved. She came to Casa Esperanza to live with her son. In the home, through the “Tias” and missionaries, she began to experience Jesus’s love for her. She explained how she surrendered her life to Jesus and how He has changed her life through the family ministry at Casa Esperanza. She now loves her son and is able to study and grow up in a loving environment. Tears were streaming down many cheeks in the crowd as she commissioned the people, “There are thousands of children just like me that are without hope and without God on our streets. It is our opportunity to love them and bring them into our family.” This was a message to the Guatemalan people to rise to the challenge.
Loving, knowing and seeing these children who have come out of hard, broken family situations is a privilege, because they are Jesus’s precious ones. It is a greater honour to serve them in the love of Christ without any strings attached and see them come to know the future and hope that God has for them. Families are being healed and lives are being transformed in Guatemala. The challenges of change and growth are being met by the church in Guatemala and they have risen in the power of the Holy Spirit in simplicity of faith. We can learn a lot by acknowledging their process of maturity of faith and by returning to the basics of our commission of the church in caring for the vulnerable and hurting in the name of the Lord.
For more information about Casa Esperanza, Casa Alabbanza and Fe Viva, please check out www.feviva.org.