Thursday, August 14, 2008

Giddy about Guatemala!!!

Sadly, today marks the end of my Guatemala ’08 presentation (I could show you hundreds of photos, but I think the ones I’ve shown over the last week are fairly representative of much of what we experienced). Today I’d like to share a more personal story of Almolonga. Because it has always been my heart’s cry to see the nations of the world bow their knees before our Lord Jesus (my life verse is actually Psalm 2: 8), I have always hungered to make a personal pilgrimage to this place that boasts an amazing story of transformation. On my “Bucket List” this would rank quite highly. All the while we were in Quetzaltenango, I had no idea that we were roughly 20 minutes away from this city. It wasn’t until we were driving to Las Cumbres on the penultimate evening of our visit, that Claudia (our native Guatemalan, and Children’s Ministry pastor) began to tell us the story of this city we would be driving through. The story sounded remarkably familiar to me and so I mentioned that I was familiar with a similar story of a city called Almolonga. She smiled and calmly informed me that that was the very city we would be passing through.

I could have popped an artery! I was apoplectic with joy and, according to the rest of my team, became like a kid in a candy store with more choices than he knows what to do with. I had to take a photo. I had to walk around and ask questions. I had to touch the people. Frustratingly though, because we had to freshen up and return to Quetzaltenango for an appointment with a pastor, we couldn’t stop to sight-see. The next morning we were ready bright and early and headed back into Almolonga. Let me digress for a moment and mention that Guatemala has got to be the stray-dog-capital of the world! We lost count after around 700, and they all look hungry, lean, and mangy, running around in packs scavenging for food in every possible crevice they can find. Not so in Almolonga! The stray dogs were fat and happy, lounging around lazily as if they had also benefited from the prosperity that had hit the region. I was duly informed that they had. Everyone seems to smile in Almolonga, and 9 out of every 10 people are Christians (I’d hate to be the odd one).

Then Claudia suggested that we go take photos in front of the church that was started by the Evangelist whom God used to spark this amazing revival and transformation. Upon our arrival, we discovered that the church was open and so we ventured inside, only to run into two of their elders praying. They were in the middle of a 120 day fast!!! As we talked with them, Claudia said that they asked if we could pray for them. What??? Me, pray for them!?! I couldn’t do it, and asked if they would instead pray for us. Graciously they obliged, and proceeded to anoint each one of us with oil and passionately and fervently call out to Heaven on our behalf. Their wives joined them and you could hear their plaintiff cries as they prayed earnestly for God to touch our lives. I hunger to experience what God has done in Almolonga, in my adopted homeland of the USA. I have seen revivals come and go, but I have never witnessed a complete transformation of a city because of the touch of God. Imagine Orlando, FL, the entertainment capital of the world, without bars, brothels, or jails. Unimaginable you say. Well, that’s only because you don’t know the God I serve. Thank you Guatemala for reminding us of what is truly important.