by Team Leader, Rick Fulton
Bring In • Build Up • Branch Out
This is the Vision Statement of Grace Community Church.
One evening this week in Guatemala, talking with Hanna from Bethel Ministries and Pastor Juanito Macario, God showed me how He has implemented this B3 mission here, in Guatemala.
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus said, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations…”
Many of us going on a mission trip know we will be blessing to the people we serve. We, and our missionary friends will share the Gospel through word and deed with them as well. However, we as mission trippers aren’t guarenteed the opportunity to see the Holy Spirit take this and run with it! One aspect of what I love about the mission of Bethel is that they work through a network of Guatemalan pastors around the country. These pastors find the great need and tell Bethel. They then are in these areas and are able to provide followup and discipleship to the families.
Rewind to 2014 for some backstory.
I was on my 3rd trip with Bethel ministries in Guatemala. Just like in the past trips we built a home for a widow and her kids. Her name was Etelvina. She was a quiet, strong woman with a great smile, but you could see she had lived through pain. The story was similar to others we had worked with. Etelvina was humble and very appreciative of our help and she gave all the Glory to Dios, God!
Fast forward to the January 2015 men’s trip.
We dropped in to followup with Etelvina and her kids. Etelvina and the kids were doing well.She seemed more confident, steady and had more of a strength about her. It made us happy to see that the home we had built may have helped her get a step up in her life. Then, while visiting, we heard her backstory, her real back story.
It was a tragic life filled with a husband who severely beat her and generally made life miserable. Etelvina shared with us that someday, if God would deliver her from her horrible marriage, she would live every day to serve Him. We were happy to hear this, but honestly, we took it with a grain of salt, or maybe a dose of cold reality.
We moved on to our next home visit where we delivered a food bag and built a stove for Isabelle and her sons. Chris Moony of Bethel proceeded to show the contents of the food bag. She was very appreciative of the items, however, when he gave her a new Bible she grabbed it, clutched it and held it to her heart tightly. It was like it was the last life vest on a sinking ship! It was a striking visual!
She then proceeded to tell us how she had stepped away from her faith, but she was so thankful for her neighbor who had recently reached out to her and brought her back to the Lord. Then she said “I am so thankful for my friend, Etelvina!” Our hearts soared! Etelvina was honoring her promise! We saw the fruit she had worked tirelessly to cultivate!
That evening we attended Juanito’s church, and we saw Etelvina again. She was a part of a dramatization at the front of the church. She had such confidence and strength and showed an obvious resilience.
We were thrilled to see she not only had witnessed to her neighbor, but she was also now very active in Juan’s church! When back in Tecpan in 2015. She continued to be active in the church.
Fast forward one last time to the July 2017 trip.
Last night I was talking with pastor Juanito and asking him about his church. I asked about many of the families that we have helped and have have gotten to know over the past seven trips, many of which are attending his church. He said his church is getting more and more filled! “Many are these families.”
We attended church on Sunday. Juanito was right, many were in church. It warmed my heart so to receive giant hugs from the families who past teams I have been on have helped. I received hugs from Isabelle, Berta and her sons, and Etelvina! As I hugged from them, I let them know that they are often on my mind and heart and that I pray for them and their children. It is so very good to see them in the church!
This week we are building three homes for families that Juan has recommended to Bethel. I know Juan comes across these families often through a recommendation, or referral, but he told me that the three families we are helping this week were all families who Etelvina had found! She has made it a mission, especially on Mondays, to search out those in need.
She, who once received, was Brought In to the kingdom, she is now Building others up in their faith and Branching Out to find more people who belong to His kingdom! She is making disciples! Imagine the potential snowball effect if the Holy Spirit would grab these families and they would Bring In, Build Up and Branch Out like Etelvina!
When we see fruit like this, it shows God’s hand in fulfilling the scriptures. We are but instruments in His hand.
Dios te Bendiga