Thursday, March 7, 2019

If we can't come to the church, the church has come to us. . .

I think I may have written about the home church group meeting each Monday at Casa de Esperanza, but I want to share the impact it is having on the lives our the men who live in our home.

Last August (I think) Matt Smeltzer asked if the church he felt led to start could meet in our men's home.  While God has shifted the direction of Matt's ministry (Matt is now the chaplain at a homeless shelter in Rochester, NY), he used Matt intentionally to reach our guys.

None of the churches in San Pedro are accessible to wheelchairs, or they are down long dirt paths which the chairs can't handle. And, frankly, the experience of the men in the church we attended in Antigua left them less than engaged.  It was hard to know what to do, since transporting them to an accessible church seemed an overwhelming task.

Enter Matt.  Matt was the perfect candidate to reach our guys, since he had known Fidel and Moises for years through the Bethel/Hope Haven camp each November.  They knew and trusted him through their long time relationship.  So Matt was the catalyst.  And shortly after Matt planted the seed with us, God moved him back to the US.  Could it be possible that God brought him all they way to Guatemala just  for this?  Humbling thought.

Matt's departure, however, did not signal the end of the church.  As all good leaders do, he had brought others alongside him to lead.  Derrick and Brittany Burden, and their children Zack and Zoe, have been faithful in teaching and mentoring our guys since Matt's departure.

I have chosen not to be part of the home church on a regular basis, since the guys had heard the Good News from me more than enough times.  They needed to hear it from others, without my influence. (Two of them who had previously been highly engaged in the Catholic Church had told me they only did this to please the people caring for them.  I did not want this to happen in our home.)

Derrick "messing with" the guys.  They love him.

From my position as a somewhat outsider, I think I can more clearly see how the men are growing in their faith through the ministry of the Burden Family.  Each week they meet not only for praise and worship, but share Bible teaching in a discussion setting in which the guys can raise questions and express their thoughts.  This has made a huge impact on our men.  Furthermore, they follow the Acts model of sharing a meal and fellowship at each of their gatherings, and I think this has impacted the guys as much as the teaching.  They see Derrick, Brittany and their kids living out the gospel in front of them.  And they are blessed.

Once a month Pastor Harold Salvador comes from Chimaltenango to share with the guys and give them a connection with the larger church.  His regular ministry is a Camp Canan, where he works with young people in a retreat setting.  Again, this brings a much needed piece of the puzzle to the church, both with his skills and by the fact that he is a national Guatemalan pastor.

So Matt's legacy lives on, the Burdens bless us through their faithfulness, God brings other brothers and sisters to expand our horizons, and God is glorified.  Isn't that what church is all about.

For more insight into the home church movement, I encourage you to read Letters to the Church,  by Francis Chan.  No matter what size the community in which you worship, he has much to teach us.

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