Guatemala (MNN) — How would you respond if instead of building a worship center, your church wanted to install a playground?
This was exactly the predicament of the church members of at Los Olivos Church in Guatemala. But in the end, Los Olivos favored the playground over the worship center as an extension of its outward focus on the community of Sumpango.
So how did a playground trump a place to worship God? In a word: evangelism. Reach kids with the good news of Jesus, and their families will follow.
"In order to reach the children and youth, our church needed to have something attractive to them," says missionary Oscar Chiquitó, who is also project director at Los Olivos. "That's why we came up to the congregation and said, ‘OK, we need to build a playground for the children because we know if we have the playground, children will come.'"
The playground was installed in August by a team of 26 people from Kids Around the World, a children's ministry that builds playgrounds. Already, the structure has attracted kids from all over Sumpango, inviting the community to come to the church.
But that was just the start.
Reaching older kids means hosting sports. And in Guatemala, that means building a soccer field.
So on the terrace above the playground, the church is constructing an artificial-turf-over-concrete field. Built to withstand weather and negate the cost of maintaining natural grass, the field is one of only two outdoor soccer facilities in all of Sumpango. The other one is only hard-packed dirt.
Los Olivos is hoping to raise $20,000 for the turf from American partners soon. The church plans to use the field without turf until then.
The money for the field itself came from Los Olivos congregants. In a church where most people typically live on about $300 a month, $8,000 was raised for the field.
The Evangelical Free Church of America is coming alongside Los Olivos to raise the $20,000 for the turf. The ministry strongly supports Los Olivos' commitment to Gospel work in their community and has several churches that have partnered with Los Olivos on missions trips in the past.
So many are in desperate need of the Good News in Guatemala, and this church is finding creative ways to get it out there. To help Los Olivos with the costs for a soccer field, click here.
In the meantime, pray that God will continue to provide for the vision Los Olivos has. Pray that these projects really would serve as conduits to draw people to the church, and in turn, to Christ.