One of the greatest joys of working in Guatemala was reconnecting with our dear friends John and Rita Pappa of Teams Commissioned For Christ International. We first met John and Rita over 30 years ago when we were brand new Christians, trying to rebuild a life together. With generous hearts they welcomed, loved, nurtured and discipled us. The Lord used this wonderful couple to lay the foundation that He has built upon all these years. As you can tell, we love the Pappa’s. They have been serving in Guatemala for the last 18 years with amazing zeal and passion. To actually work together all these years later was a blessing that words cannot capture.
Guatemala is a beautiful yet rugged country. The crime rate causes the need for continual vigilance. John and Rita do have some stories to tell! But our work with them was far out of the City and up in the mountains. We were at elevations of around 8000 feet. The Pappa’s work with the indigenous mountain people of Mayan descent. We were invited to teach village pastors on the topic: The Father Heart of God. Due to the culture, training and a number of factors the idea of a personal, intimate and loving relationship with our Father is a very foreign thought to the pastors and village churches. The result causes a gospel that is pretty dry, heavy on legalism and with little depth or maturity. Our goal was that the pastors would not only learn something new – but experience something new! And for the pastors to take their new insights and experiences to their village churches. We believe that indeed the Lord opened a number of hearts to know and experience the Lord in a new way. The first stop was in the village of Joyobaj. We spent two days teaching 18 pastors and church leaders. The nights were spent sleeping on the church floor, there were no showers and one “toilet” for all of us. But the joy of spending time with these wonderful and humble servants far outweighed any discomfort. It was a privilege to learn from one another.
We also ministered in Nabaj, situated in the mountains 8,200 feet above sea level. There were many similarities between these beautiful mountain people and the Hill Tribe people of Thailand. In many ways it felt familiar. As in Thailand they even use the three wheel motor cycle taxi known as Tuk Tuk’s. Also, the indigenous women wear tribal clothing and men and women sit on opposite sides of the church.
Pastors, representing 16 different churches attended the conference, traveling by motorcycles and buses, sometimes for hours. In the final photo you see Edgar, our amazing 14 year old translator. Edgar was a great sport and in the photo he is tied to me in a demonstration of the heart embittering effect of carrying “unforgiveness”.
The Lord genuinely blessed our time with the pastors. We believe that the Holy Spirit opened their eyes to see the Heart of the Father like never before. We also believe, because of the feedback we received, that many pastors were able to forgive those who had wounded their souls. We believe that a number were set free from bitterness that was poisoning their hearts and casting a shadow over their lives and ministry. Our hearts were deeply moved when the Presbyter, responsible for the pastors who were attending, said “what you have heard is truth, it is good, take this message to your churches!”
Only the Lord knows what actually occurs in the heart of a person. We believe He was faithful to reveal Himself to the heart of His servants.