Antioch and Carson Churches work in GuatemalaPacific Union Recorder, February, 2008
They came by bus, by van, by taxi, by pickup truck, by motorcycle, and by foot. For the 13 nights between June 27 and July 16, 2007, around 1,000 people used any means they could to attend the evangelistic series held in Jalapa, Guatemala, by the Antioch church, from the Northern California Conference, and the Carson Spanish church, from the Southern California Conference.
“The people loved to hear of Jesus’ second coming and received the message with joy,” said Roxi Cendejas, a member of the Antioch church. The theme of the meetings was “Paz En La Tormenta” (“Peace in the Storm”). Pastor Ron Cook, from the Antioch church, spoke most evenings. But three of Antioch’s lay members, Scott Hubbard, Dr. Bob Cluff and Guillermo Ambriz, also preached at various times through the trip. Other church members assisted in various ways such as leading song service, translating, praying and holding a Vacation Bible School.
Dr. Bob Cluff and Dr. Danny Castanaza treat people in need of medical care. The VBS drew 200 children a night. Many of the mission team members commented on how much they loved working with the children. The church members took Bibles to give to the children, and the VBS team was excited to see how enthralled the children were with their new Bibles. “As soon as they opened up their Bibles,” said Hubbard, “they would sit and read and read and read their Bibles as if their Bibles were a treasure—which they are!”
Another church member, Diane Scotto, said, “It was a privilege to go. I can’t wait to return.” While the nights were filled with preaching, the days were filled with meeting the needs of the local community. Cluff and Dr. Danny Castanaza led out in medical clinics during the day. One family was so impressed by the care that the doctors showed them that they said, “We promise you, next time you return to Guatemala, we will be attending your church.”
By the end of the meetings 53 people had been baptized, but the mission team did not see the baptisms as the culmination of their trip. Team leaders say these baptisms are just the beginning of a ministry by the Antioch and Carson churches for the people of Guatemala.
One way they plan to continue their work in Guatemala is by purchasing some land to establish a permanent medical clinic and school. Cook noted that in the Jalapa region there are 80,000 Mayans with little or no access to medical care or education.
The mission team visited a local village a few days before they went home, in search of land to purchase for the clinic and school. A few young girls gathered around their van as the mission team was about to leave. They said, “We are sorry we weren’t able to attend the evangelistic meetings in Jalapa.
We really wanted to attend, but Jalapa is too far away. When are you coming back to help us in our village?”
The mission team plans to return to Guatemala in the near future to expand the work of God in many villages. “The needs are great but so is the hunger for God’s word. Truly, the fields are white for harvest in this part of the world,” said Cook.