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  • Writer's picturetimothy martiny

Imagine a Church that Serves

Imagine a Church that reads the Bible prays, and finally, imagine a church that serves!

This has recently been the theme at our local church in Guatemala. What would the church look like if the people who attended it not only accepted Christ's teachings but were intentional about living them out? What could this city, this country, and the world look like?

We have been blessed to be part of "Casa de Libertad," or the House of Freedom church, in Guatemala for the past six years. It is a young church, planted 10 years ago, and its vision is to be a church that plants churches and a body of believers that gives glory to God through lives transformed by Jesus into lives transformed for Jesus.

For several years, the church has held a "Dia por Guatemala," where most members serve at a rural school or orphanage, do physical repairs, and bring needed supplies. It has been wonderful to see everyone's united effort. However, at the end of the day, many people left, having only a relationship with the wall they painted.

This year, the focus was on working as smaller groups that would serve at multiple locations, such as orphanages, schools in the slums, drug rehab centers, hospitals, churches in rural towns, etc., meeting physical needs but, most importantly, building relationships with the people they served. The hope was that this day would be a catalyst for regular, long-term service that would encourage people to see missions as a one-day-a-year outreach and a lifestyle.

We were blessed to have two Bible study homegroups from our church choose to serve at our community center in the slums, where we have worked for the past five years. Over 100 children are enrolled in our afternoon program, which includes Bible classes, prayer, typing and computer classes, tutoring, and a safe place where they can come and learn in the afternoons.

We provided the outline for the VBS, and they took the lead in not only the planning and preparation but also the execution and running of the program.

On March 4th, over 20 volunteers showed up and served 110 children and 50 parents.

The day consisted of worship and praise songs, a Bible lesson on God as the good shepherd, activities, and crafts related to the class, and finally, school supplies and backpacks donated, through a miracle, by the First Lady of Guatemala.

The worship was beautiful, the classes were excellent, and the volunteers did a fantastic job engaging with the children. But for me, the best part of it was the prayer room we setup next door. We invited the parents to come in, have coffee, and talk with us about their lives; members of our church shared messages from God's word and prayed for them.

Three women were in one of the groups I worked with. While all the ladies needed prayer for a job, they mostly just wanted to thank God for the opportunity we had given their children to learn in our afternoon program. The thanks and appreciation from each and every parent were so very touching. Our pastor came in and led worship. It was so beautiful to see the body of Christ worshiping and praising God together in unity. One man approached my wife and said he had thought it would just be an activity for the children. Still, he was so grateful for what we did for him, taking the time to pray for them, chat with them, and let them know that we cared. It truly was an example of Psalms 133:1 "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!"

The outreach had an impact not just on the people we served but also on those who served. There is something about getting out of your comfort zone and serving others that gives perspective on your own life. One of the volunteers commented to me on how much he needed this and how serving, praying, and worshiping helped him realign his perspective with what really mattered. Another told me that he couldn't wait until next month to visit again.

1 Peter 4:10-11. "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

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