Guatemala (MNN) – How do you share the love of Christ with children coming from abusive families, poverty, and gang violence? That is the challenge for AMG International in Guatemala.
A History of Struggle
These problems are not new. Guatemala is a country plagued by turmoil. For 36 years a civil war dominated the country, claiming the lives of over 200,000 people. And even the peace accords of 1996 could not repair the deep divisions that had grown between its people.
Tasos Ioannidis of AMG International in Guatemala explains, “There is an aftermath that affects society even today and it remains a very violent place. Guatemala City has one of highest murder rates in the world. So those are challenges. A lot of the kids with whom we work, not only come out of poverty, but come out of abusive situations with unstable families in Guatemala City.”
But he and the AMG team believe that these kids and families can have hope. He continues, “To deal with that of course we do work in partnership with local churches. We seek to provide the basic things that the children need from food and clothing and an education so that they will have the tools to grow. But we also partner with several other ministries that allow us to address everything from discipleship to sports.”
With the help of their partners, AMG seeks to see kids reach young adulthood with the confidence, compassion, and the life skills they need to be successful. The organization provides for these things in a variety of ways, but all of them start with strengthening kids’ foundations– their families. Rather than just supporting children, AMG works to help restore whole families and bring them to saving faith in Christ.
They offer parents the tools they need to earn an income so they can help bring their family out of poverty. Counselors work with the whole family to guide them through painful situations in healthy ways.
Ioannidis says, “Our goal is to see both the kids and families to have their relationship with Christ restored, to see themselves as image bearers of Christ. To see that they have value, to understand that they are loved. That God loves them and other people love them. And to just instead of feeling shame and going through all the experiences they are going through every day, to gain a different perspective and value as image bearers of Christ.”
God is moving through their work. AMG International first came to Guatemala in 1976 after an earthquake rocked Guatemala City. Now, 42 years later they are still partnering with local churches. They have partnerships throughout the country providing resources to centers combatting child abuse, at schools, and with local churches.
More than 8,000 children are in projects with AMG International. Through those ministries, they are able to work with children who come out of extreme poverty and provide them with access to education, nutrition, and medical care.
Pray, Give, Go
Ioannidis praises God for the way that the Guatemalan Church is growing. But he urges Christians to get involved with the work there.
“We need a lot more sponsors than we have right now. There are more children that are brought to us that we can help and we greatly need new sponsors. Our sponsorship program costs $32 a month and that allows us to invest in the life of the child and it makes a difference for their entire future, both on this Earth and for eternity. So we do ask people to be praying for the ministry and to invest in the lives through child sponsorship and also there is an opportunity to participate through short-term mission trips.”
Ioannidis continues to explain that short-term teams are really helpful for general practical ministry things like construction, but also useful if they have special skills. Often they will use medical professionals to help with short-term work.
The work is there. The people are hungry for Christ and the need is great. Consider today how you can get involved with AMG International in Guatemala. Stay tuned this week for a testimony of a student about to leave for a trip to Guatemala.
If you want to get involved by supporting a child or family, click here.
To learn more about how you can serve in Guatemala with AMG on a short-term trip, click here.
(Header photo courtesy of AMG International)