The Mordecai Project Newsletter
Report from Guatemala / November 2008
Last Thursday I flew to Guatemala and joined six others for several days of ministry in El Rosario—a town in eastern Guatemala that I have visited three other times. This trip was sponsored by my good friend Myra Goldfarb—an anointed Puerto Rican minister who preached in my first women’s conference in Guatemala. Also joining us were Roque and Maggie Santiago, a pastoral couple from Harrisburg, Pa.; Billy and Lisette, Puerto Rican youth leaders from the Orlando area; and my friend Danny Morgan, a youth pastor from Baltimore. We made a great team and enjoyed incredible unity (an a lot of laughter) the entire trip.
** On Friday Billy and Lisette led a youth conference near El Rosario with about 250 kids. Danny, Roque and I went to preach in a village called Saspan with Pastor Oto Morales, the man I have worked closely with since my first visit to Guatemala in 2003. He and his wife, Ilma, pastor the Church of New Vision in the town of El Rosario. In the past I have helped Pastor Oto develop his ministry, and my home church helped build him a youth center.
** We told Pastor Oto it was okay for him to squeeze every drop of energy out of us. Saspan is an isolated town on top of a mountain, and the people are very poor. Pastor Oto planted a church there about three years ago and it has grown to about 70 members. Danny, Roque and I were able to pray and prophesy over these precious people and I brought a simple message to them about praising God in tough times.
** The Friday night celebration service was thrilling because it was held in the youth center that my home church helped build in 2003. We lost a lot of sweat (and maybe some blood) when we dug the foundations of that building in the hard, rocky soil five years ago. It was so great to see the fruit of our labor. Today the center is used to attract the young people of El Rosario —and the church now has a large number of youth.
** On Saturday night we hosted our main event—a family conference in an arena in the city of Gualan, 15 miles east of El Rosario. We had about 700 people there from many churches. Pastor Roque and I preached, Billy and Lisette led worship and Danny shared the testimony of how his mother prayed for him when he was a wayward teenager. It was a great encouragement to many parents there.
** My message that night was addressed to the men who had been mistreating and neglecting their wives. Pastor Roque faithfully served as my translator whenever I spoke. I had arranged to do a special demonstration during the sermon and it made an unforgettable impact on the people. I asked a woman to walk down the long center aisle of the arena carrying a heavy load of firewood on her head. This is how many of the poor women in the rural villages gather wood. They carry unbelievably heavy loads while their strong-backed husbands refuse to help. It is one of the most blatant examples of gender prejudice in this part of Guatemala.
** When the woman came to the front of the stage I took the wood from her and threw it on the floor. The bundle made a loud crash and I just stood for a few moments in silence. Then I picked the wood up again and threw it on the floor. I did this three times to make sure everyone in that place got the message. Some women were already crying before I opened my Bible to preach from Ephesians 5. When I finished I asked the woman’s husband to come to the front, and he knelt in front of her and washed her feet. I told the crowd that this is God’s pattern—godly husbands treat their wives like Christ loves the church.
** Giving a message like this in Guatemala is not easy. The men of this area are called “hombres duros”—“tough guys.” When I am in situations like this I cannot help but say to myself, “Lee, why are you doing this?!? Are you trying to get yourself killed?” It seems ridiculous in the natural because the machismo spirit is so deeply ingrained in the men’s hearts. However I know the Lord wants to deliver them from this cultural bondage. Myra Goldfarb told me later that when I was speaking she could feel the Word of God shattering the hardness of their hearts. Even though they did not seem to flinch at that point, the conviction was heavy.
** At the end of the message I called the married couples to come to the altar and they all cooperated. For almost an hour our team laid hands on these couples and asked for healing and renewal in every marriage. Many tough men were crying. Some of the women were so overcome by the pain of abuse and neglect that they collapsed, but we prayed over every couple and urged the men to put their arms around their wives. We saw an awesome victory that night!
** The victory intensified the next day during the Sunday morning service at Iglesia Nueva Vision. Pastor Oto had invited several government leaders to the meeting, including the general of Guatemala’s rural army and the governor of the state of Zacapa. I preached a message called “You Need the Oil”—about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Even though this is a Pentecostal church many of the people have not yet been filled with the Holy Spirit. At the end of the service things begin to resemble the house of Cornelius in Acts 10. More than three-fourths of the church came to the altar—including the Army general! The Holy Spirit was poured out in fullness and we had an explosive time of ministry.
** That night Roque took things one step further in the closing message and reminded the people that when the Holy Spirit’s power comes, He opens doors for ministry. More people were baptized in the Spirit that night and a powerful spirit of joy was released on the people—even on those who had been struggling with heaviness and condemnation.
** It is impossible to tell everything that happened on this trip. Myra, Maggie and Lisette had several powerful meetings with the women. We were able to offer deep personal ministry to Pastor Oto and his wife, as well as to their daughters. Billy and Lisette encouraged so many of the youth. Danny worked hard praying over people at the altars. And our hearts were broken as we saw the great poverty in El Rosario and Saspan. We poured ourselves out, but God was faithful to minister to us as well.
** As we were traveling to the airport on Monday I was praying about whether I was to come back to Guatemala. The Lord began to stir my heart about a town near El Rosario that I have visited called Chiquimula. I shared this with Pastor Oto and we are now discussing the possibilities of doing a women’s conference in that city. There are many poor women there who carry heavy loads of wood on their heads—and a crushing burden of abuse. I know my work in Guatemala is not finished yet.
Posted by Lee Grady on November 26, 2008 12:35 AM