by Ashley Kilgas & Teresa Ballinger
Have you ever been treated as a guest of honor amongst people you didn’t even know? Welcomed with a parade, fireworks, special dances, and kind words? Well two weeks ago, that is just how our mission team was warmly received by the people of San Josè Arenal and Caniche (rural villages located in Huehuetenango, Guatemala). Epikos has a beautiful partnership with both of these villages and an incredible ministry called Food for the Hungry (FH). As part of that relationship, we were part of a team that visited the villages last week.
“See their richness. Use your words to encourage and build up.” These are the words that Julio, the country director for FH Guatemala, urged us to remember and take to heart as we prepared to head into the villages for the week.
We were immersed in a culture that was foreign and seemingly full of contradictions. In a country where 50-80% of the population lives below the poverty line, you’d expect to see a lot of people who are hopeless and resigned. While this is true for some, others have found hope.
We as believers know that true hope and joy only comes through Christ. FH models this truth throughout every interaction they have with the villages and churches they partner with. Their mission is to “walk with churches, leaders, and families in overcoming all forms of human poverty by living in healthy relationship with God and His creation.” This is evident in the way they love and equip the people they work with to become self-sustainable in their education, nutrition, and livelihoods.
Epikos has the honor of joining in the work that God is doing through FH to build relationships with these people. That is the primary focus of our short-term trips. We listen to several community groups share what they are learning and the success they have been experiencing. We get to play and laugh and share in the joy of the children. We get to learn from local church leaders and gain new insights. We are able to fellowship, encourage, and spur on each other and our brothers and sisters from FH.
Christ is transforming these communities and we have the privilege and joy of being a part of it. We will never forget the generosity of the people we met and the things we learned in the short time we were able to spend with them. Not only is Christ bringing about transformation in these communities, but also in the lives of those who were sent.