“What Are We Going to Do?” When Little Becomes Much in Guatemala

Vision 195 Story from Guatemala

“What are we going to do for these people?” Pastor Antonio Alvarado’s teenage daughter looked at her father with a mix of determination and devastation. It was Sunday, the 3rdof June. Only a few hours earlier, ash and gas had spewed from the heart of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano, 10,000 metres into the air. It was an explosion powerful enough to be seen from space. The massive ash cloud then collapsed into a river of lava, ash, and volcanic gas racing down Fuego at speeds impossible to outrun, swallowing everything in its path.1BBC News, “Guatemala’s Fuego Volcano: How the Tragedy Unfolded,” BBC.com, June 5, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-44369461 (accessed July 16, 2018).

Mud and debris shut down roads and demolished bridges, leaving rescue teams to fight their way to those closest to the volcano. Most of the villagers had been taken by surprise: 110 had died . . . another 200 were missing . . . 13,000 had been displaced. The total number impacted? 1.7 million.2Kathryn Reid, “2018 Guatemala Volcano Eruption: Facts, FAQs, and How to Help,” World Vision.org, June 18, 2018, https://www.worldvision.org/disaster-relief-news-stories/guatemala-volcano-eruption-facts (accessed July 16, 2018).

Pastor Antonio, an avid listener of Insight for Living Ministries Spanish-language broadcast, Visión Para Vivir, lives in Escuintla, the city closest to the disaster. Fuego had erupted before, but never like this. As the devastation became apparent, his daughter moved the pastor to action. He called the leaders of his church, Iglesia Roca de Salvación (Rock of Salvation Church). An hour later, they were handing victims bottled water and bolillo bread filled with beans. The next day, 50 church members showed up, ready to do the same.

By Tuesday, the church had established the Roca de Salvación Shelter. Days later, Pastor Antonio summoned 15 likeminded churches to collaborate. Today, he directs the shelter while the other pastors provide pastoral care to the residents—35 people, 11 of them children, from 8 different families.

Because Pastor Antonio and many of the volunteers are listeners of Visión Para Vivir, Jorge Ponce, the director of our ministry office in Guatemala, visited Roca de Salvación to learn their story.

Upon opening the shelter, Pastor Antonio told the Lord: “This is Your business.” A week after the disaster, he preached Romans 14:8: “Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” “If we had not [opened the shelter],” Pastor Antonio told Jorge, “today I would be lamenting.” Instead, he is joyful, witnessing the service of the church and their faith in the one to whom they belong.

Roca de Salvación has only humble means, but God has provided abundantly . . . and through His grace, He is drawing the displaced to Himself. “Mercy is God’s business,” Pastor Antonio told Jorge excitedly. “In the midst of the impossible, God is the God of the possible.”

As Jorge says, when everything seems impossible, one thing ispossible—the choice to trust or fight with God. Roca de Salvación’s trust has given birth to new hope, not only within Fuego volcano’s victims but within us.

In the Scriptures, Barnabas was sent to visit persecuted Christians who had fled to Antioch. When he saw God’s abundant blessing, he was filled with joy and encouraged them to remain faithful (Acts 11:23). Jorge felt the same as he greeted the displaced families in Escuintla. “God saved their lives; now He is taking care of them through His church.”

Observing the Lord’s provision has renewed Jorge’s joy. And for all of us at Insight for Living Ministries, hearing of 16 churches working together—many taught by our broadcast—affirms what lies at the heart of Vision 195: a calling for believers worldwide to join hands and equip speakers of every language to know and live by God’s Truth.

The Lord has commanded each of His followers to be His hands and feet, teaching His Word and making disciples in every nation. We can trust the Lord to do the “impossible” with our humble gifts. The only question is, “What are we going to do?”

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1. BBC News, “Guatemala’s Fuego Volcano: How the Tragedy Unfolded,” BBC.com, June 5, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-44369461 (accessed July 16, 2018).
2. Kathryn Reid, “2018 Guatemala Volcano Eruption: Facts, FAQs, and How to Help,” World Vision.org, June 18, 2018, https://www.worldvision.org/disaster-relief-news-stories/guatemala-volcano-eruption-facts (accessed July 16, 2018).
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