Guatemala (MNN) — Global Aid Network (GAiN) has quite a task upon them in Guatemala this week.
"We're going to feed about 5,000 children this week along with their parents and teachers," says Steve Watson who is currently in Guatemala with GAiN.
No particular catastrophe occurred to thrust these children to hunger. But most of Guatemala is poor, and their children are hungry. Hunger is a daily reality for many, and GAiN, says Watson, is barely scratching the surface of the problem this week.
Still recovering from a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996, Guatemala is a country in desperate need. As a developing country, Guatemala is among the 10 poorest countries in Latin America, with approximately 29% of the population living below the poverty line.
Many people in this developing nation are struggling to provide for their families, and many children go without adequate food, shelter, and education.
GAiN has been working in Guatemala for years and has made some significant headway. Malnutrition rates are going down in the regions where GAiN has had a long-term presence. The ministry has been able to move away from handing out food for stabilization, to teaching people to plant and to harvest in some areas.
This week, however, GAiN is in a brand new area in northern Guatemala, and the needs are astronomical.
"Malnutrition is still a huge need, food, clean water, shoes, school supplies," lists Watson. This week a team of 13 Americans and 8 nationals is entering schools to respond to as many of these needs as they can.
Kids are coming from all over for meals. Watson says one group of students arrived at their principal's home one day this week at 4 a.m., eager to begin their three-mile walk for a meal.
"They're hungry," Watson points out, "not only for food, but for the Gospel."
The children, teachers, and parents are certainly hearing about Christ this week. Watson says the team is praying that people will be responsive to the Gospel–if not now, then later on in the partnership. In other areas of Guatemala, GAiN has watched transformation take place.
"In the last few years we've been working here, they've planted several hundred churches just through working in the schools. Teachers are becoming believers. They're starting house churche,s and then they're asking us, ‘Please come back and help us.'"
Pray that this new ministry opportunity will be the beginning of the end for malnutrition and other physical needs. Pray also that it will be the door the Gospel will come through.