Being here in Guatemala on Abogar International Ministries’ first ever Xposure Trip has been an amazing experience already! We started our trip with an amazing ministry, Paradise Bound, (http://www.paradisebound.org/) and were so blessed to love on the kids and see the ministry there!! The founder/director, Dan, is an amazing man with an amazing heart, and we were so blessed by his commitment to Christ, faithfulness to love and serve the children, and his great generosity and hospitality!
Yesterday we had the amazing experience of spending time with an ex-gang member turned preacher, Shorty, in one of the most dangerous slums in all of Latin America; La Limonada. I had the amazing privilege to preach to his home church. Our team also got the opportunity to do some home visitations with Shorty as well, and we prayed over several families! Its was great!
Today we spent all day in La Limonada at Tita’s school and ministry, Vidas Plenas (http://www.vidasplenas.org/). It was an awesome experience. We had the opportunity to do home visits with the ministry during the day, and these visitations were quite intense! We had the privilege to meet Wilson, a 14 year old who recently was shot four times in his leg. We prayed over him and his mom and family. I sensed such a sweet spirit on him, and am praying for God to use the gang activity, violence, and the bullets he took as an experience that leads him now into a new and better path; following and serving Jesus Christ!
I also met a young man, Christian, who is 23 years old. Four years ago, while he was hanging out with some gang members and trying to rob a bus, they were surrounded by cops and he took 3 bullets into the spine! He cant walk, but has such an awesome heart and testimony! I saw the love and light of Jesus in his eyes and countenance while he shared with us that God has led him onto a path of helping others to chose the ways of God!! Awesome!!
Wilson and Christian live in the same neighborhood… a neighborhood of immense violence, drug abuse, addictions, alcohol, prostitution, gang activity, murder, and abandoned children… one of the worst slums in all of Latin America! Wilson and Christian were not really given a fair shot at life, a fair chance to be contributing participants of society. It took bullets to bring these two to their knees before God! Pray for them that God will hold, heal, guide, and protect them.
These are honestly common and weekly stories from the slum areas of La Limonada… a small, less than 1 square mile area, holding more than 60,000 people. How many more bullets must be shed before people realize their need for Jesus… for the presence and Spirit of God in their lives? We need to make a difference! We need to boldly step into these places, in sacrifice and surrender for the will and heart of God, and be bearers of His truth, love, and light to a place so full of lies, hate, and darkness!! If you try saving your life you will lose it, but if you lose your life for the sake of the Gospel and for God you gain eternal life! These children never hear, “Good job!” “Well done!” “I am so proud of you!” “I love you!” or any other positive encouragement or feedback. They are precious, beautiful children with life circumstances stacked against them, with no one to defend, advocate for, protect, or provide for them.
Rather than just responding to Wilson and Christian’s stories, we need to become proactive and work to make slums to become less and less, and for discipleship, love, and life-long relationships more and more! These precious children never asked for their life circumstances, and given the right opportunity they each have a potential to change the world! Let’s help put an end to bullets, and start sharing more intentionally the love, light, and truth of Jesus Christ to the many many millions of children around the world who need home, education, family, and stability! We cannot just say its too big of a job, because honestly each child’s life changed, impacted, or moved is effectively making a change in the world!! Let’s be world-changers!!