- Throughout history Guatemala has been controlled by plantation owners making a healthy profit and then by military dictators hungry for power.
- Years of oppression and absolute poverty exploded in 1960 into 36 years of guerilla war. During this time human rights abuses were appalling with over 40,000 people ‘disappearing’, widespread torture and millions left without a home.
- A peace settlement in 1996 has brought an end to warfare but there remains a culture of violence.
- The richest 10% of the country own half the country’s wealth while 90% of the population live in poverty.
- A quarter of under-5s are malnourished or underweight.
- Christians played a significant part in seeing Guatemala acheive a peace deal in 1996. Pray that this short time of peace would continue.
- A quarter of the population are now committed Christians – pray that every community across the country would have a dyanmic evangelical church.
- As more and more people become Christians pray that churches will be able to help them deepen their faith in God and live out what they believe each day. Pray that each new generation will respond to God for themselves, rather than just turning up to church meetings ‘cos it’s the thing to do!
- Pray for children across Guatemala – most live in extreme poverty and thousands have been orphaned through war. There are over 5,000 street children in the capital. Pray also for Christians who are working with them.
- In the last 15 years over 100 cross-cultural missionaries have been sent out to different countries. Pray that more would be called and trained to serve God from Guatemala.
- Population 11.4 million
- Urbanites 40%
- Average income per person $1470. Which is 5% of the average US citizen.
- Official language: Spanish
- There are 42 languages spoken in Guatemala
- The whole Bible is available in 8 languages. The New Testament is available in 21 languages. Parts of the Bible are being translated in 30 languages.
- Christian 97.52%
- Non religious/other 1.90%
- Traditional ethnic 0.30%
- Baha’i 0.20%
- Buddhist 0.06%
- Chinese 0.02%
- Protestant 18.57%
- Independent 8.19%
- Anglican 0.02%
- Catholic 61.48%
- Marginal 2.15%
- Unaffiliated 7.11%
To learn more about the country of Guatemala visit the sources below for comprehensive information
The Mountains – Matasano & Pinalito
High in the mountains above Zacapa, the first seeds of Faith In Action came to fruit. The faith and vision that God gave to Michael and Rocky Beene purposed in them to share His love through patient toil and understanding. The love of God spread from the first small tent dwellings perched atop the mountain, through the surrounding village of Matasano, and into the lives of lost people in the immediate area. Word of lives saved from the medical care that was being given freely to people began to draw people in to hear the great news that Jesus Christ had saved them all. With much patience and hard work, relationships were forged, friendships were born, and often untrusting and sceptical people living in this small village began to accept the truth… God loves them!
Over the years, mission teams, from all over the world, began to bring aid to relieve the suffering caused by the lack of dental care, poor hygene, and the lack of nutrition. Amazing transformations began to happen n the lives of people in that village and not just those of the villagers, but those of the volunteers that came to help!
Today, the mission has spread across the valley to a new village called Pinalito. The missions influence encompass an area that several years ago would have been unimaginable. Many people from the surrounding villages all come to hear the Good News. The lives of the people in these villages have been changed forever. Once heavy chains of poverty and hopelessnes have been destroyed and a new generation of educated and hard-working people bring vision and tolerance to a wildly beautiful corner of the world.
When Michael and Rocky been first pitched their tent on the side of the mountain in the little village of Matasano, people said that they wouldn’t last very long. They said that they would become disheartened, fall ill, be intimidated to leave, or even worse, be killed outright. The villagers were savage, mistrustful, and understood only hardship as a way of life. Today, however, the mission has stood the test of time, forged life-long relationships with many of the very people who sought to do them harm.
We at Faith In Action invite you to explore further the awesome programs that you and others like you have helped make possible with generous donations of your lives, hard work, and finances. We want to share with you the good news that God has allowed us, through Faith In Action, to share hope with the hopeless and bring God’s salvation to the lost and forgotten of this world. Let the light shine on!
Faith in Action goes into communities that have no church and have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. Forgotten by the outside world, these villages are isolated with no basic infrastructure. Having no access to electricity, running water, or usable roads, the people living in these remote places are full of fear and hopelessness. We come to dwell among them and tell them of a God that loves them. Only acts of kindness and touching their needs turn their ears to listen. As we pray and ask God how we can penetrate closed remote cultures that are stagnant and under developed, He begins to give us ideas on how to touch their needs and gain their confidence. Sometimes it takes years to gain the people’s trust and win their hearts but that is Faith In Action’s call…to dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Michael and Rocky’s first church planting adventure in Guatemala
When we first arrived in the village of Matasano we lived in a tent that we pitched on the side of the mountain. Michael would get up at sunrise every morning and take his chain saw up the hill to cut down pine trees to build the first mission. At night the clouds would come in completely covered us in swirling mists. For months we toiled to make a livable home base for Faith In Action.
As Faith In Action began to take root, we began to think about what it must be like for the villagers. What did they think of us? How were we, (these crazy people who might as well be from another planet), going to be accepted? Well, at first, the people were very scared that we were going to eat their children or make soap out of them! They feared and mistrusted us. They believed in their hearts that we were going to destroy them and their way of life. However, little by little, God’s love and tenderness broke down the obstacles and insecurity that the people of Matasano felt towards the ministry. In addition to preaching the gospel, God gave us the foresight and ability to begin meeting some of the basic needs in the village. God showed us that because the vast majority of people in the mountains were completely illiterate, the only gospel they would ever read was our lives. And thus began the first church ministry in Matasano.
“Education is one of the most important things that we can invest in. We know the change education brings will alter the destiny of the villagers and give them hope for a brighter tomorrow.” – Michael Beene
From humble beginnings come great things
When Faith In Action started working in the highland villages there were only 5 children going to school. The state-sponsored teacher organizing the classes was more interested in drinking alcohol on the rare occasions he even showed up, than teaching the children. After several drunken visits to the village school, the teacher reported back to the Ministry of Education that there was no interest in education anywhere in the region. He told the counsel to close the school down!
Michael and Rocky, on behalf of Faith In Action, asked the Ministry of Education not to give up trying to educate the children in the mountains. They asked the counsel for one more chance to teach the local children. Mike and Rocky were even willing to provide a full-time teacher (including paying salary). The Ministry of Education agreed to allow Faith In Action to sponsor the school and bring in a private teacher for the remainder of the school year.
By the end of the first school year Faith In Action had 35 children attending a new school located on the mission in Matasano. The following year, the Ministry of Education decided to help pay the salary for one teacher. Faith In Action would continue to pay the salary for a second teacher that had come to the mission because of the increasing demand. Our once little school has now grown to over 125 children, however, that is still only ¼ of the children from the community. The results are in and the response is conclusive, there is a huge desire for education in the mountains of Guatemala.
The River – Rio Dulce River Tributaries
Rio Dulce or “The Sweet River” runs along the South East coast of Guatemala and eventually empties into the salty seas of the Caribbean. Dozens of smaller rivers and tributaries flow down from the higher elevations throughout Guatemala and feed into this large body of water. We have a passion to reach the many villages that are located far from civilization up these tributaries, often cut off for centuries from the outside world.
Fourteen years ago, in the raging heat of summer, the Beene family and a close group of adventurous missionaries chartered a boat to take them up a remote tributary of the Rio Dulce. Unsure of what would be found, the team traveled three hours up river, across swamps, and through jungle to find the remote village of Castillo Creek. The village was being decimated by Cholera and water-borne illnesses. 5 people per week were dying. “Through basic education, we were able to show the people how to purify their water and make a rehydration drink by just adding sugar and salt. said Michael. Amazingly, through the grace of God, no more deaths occured in the village due to these illnesses after our first visit.
Language poses a particular challenge in this village. The men speak basic Spanish but the women and children are completely dependent on translations by the men. Because of the inability of the people in this village to commute to civilization the common language is a Mayan dialect that has changed little for a thousand years.
Years later we still are ministering in the village of Castillo Creek. God has brought up village leaders who have constructed a church and are looking forward to beginning a functional school in the near future.