Monday, December 12, 2022

Children's Ministry Around the World - Guatemala

As we continue to look at Children's Ministry and the lives of children from around the world, today we "journey" to Latin America again with a "stop" in Guatemala.

Guatemala is known for its history as one of the locations for the Mayan civilization, so it is not surprising to picture ancient stone pyramids when you think of Guatemala. However; this country of almost 16 million people in Central America is not just about its ancient history. In the present, according to World Population Review, Guatemala is a “young” country as 37.4% of the people are children under 15 years old with an additional 22.2% of the population between the ages of 15 and 24. This means almost two thirds of the people in the country of Guatemala are under the ages of 24, making it a very “young” country.
According to Compassion; “There is a great deal of freedom regarding religion in Guatemala; the majority of the population is Catholic, but 40 percent is Protestant.” They also say there are, shocking levels of violence due to poverty, gang activity and drug cartels from Mexico which are real problems for the country and the church. says; Guatemala ranks third worst in the world in child nutrition and has become a leading participant in human trafficking.  In both rural areas and cities, thousands of children are victimized through abuse, forced labor and absolute neglect.” They say; “over 31% of the children in Guatemala never start school and less than one-third of children will complete nine years of school.”
Ministry to children in Guatemala is challenging – 2% of Guatemalans are unreached (OperationWorld). According to Open Doors Orphanages, there are more than 370,000 orphans in Guatemala, but they are closed to adoption so, these children end up in orphanages or on the streets. Since adoption is closed to people outside of Guatemala; the only people who can adopt are Guatemalans, which means helping churches in Guatemala develop a heart for the many orphans in their country is another challenge facing the church. Churches are also dealing with the violence which remains after the “end” of a war which lasted for thirty years. Even though peace accords were signed, Guatemala is still ruled by force whether it is from the military, gangs or drug cartels. Violence is a very real part of the lives of people in Guatemala. Rural churches are small and since poverty is high, there are not funds to pay full-time children’s ministers. However; ministry to street children in the large cities, orphanages and ministry which provide Bible clubs, camps, food, shelter, medical care and other outreaches for poor rural communities are reaching children and families.
As you think about Guatemala, please pray for –
  • The safety of children – so many are exposed to violence, exploitation and despair.
  • God to draw believers to Him while they serve in places where violence has developed a stronghold.
  • Laborers to go and help nationals learn to serve children.
  • Children to see the hope available to them from God and be willing to believe the despair they experience every day does not have to be all they know.
  • The Guatemalan church to develop a heart for orphans and accept the challenge to adopt so children have families.
  • The Guatemalan church to be a light to their communities!
Guatemala is a country with a very old history and very “young” challenges. They need to know God loves them! While you may not be able to travel to Guatemala to serve the church, you can pray and, “When a believing person prays, great things happen.” (James 5:16 NCV) Let’s pray and trust God for great things in Guatemala! 

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