Good news for progress in Guatemala

By January 19, 2016

Guatemala (MNN/FH) — The term “good news” can encapsulate a multitude of ideas, including the restoration of a distant, hard to reach village.

(Photo courtesy of Food for the Hungry)

(Photo courtesy of Food for the Hungry)

The Guatemalan community Antiguo Xonca split years ago because of rivaling debates and groups that didn’t agree. Among the break up, leaders were also separated. What the disagreeing groups and leaders saw as just was actually a roadblock to developing and thriving. They couldn’t progress without leaning on each other and learning from one another.

Yet, progress didn’t sit in the backseat forever.

Food for the Hungry (FH) started training local leaders from both sides of the community, emphasizing the desperate need for unity to build a strong foundation in Christ and for the benefit of their people. FH suggested having goals to work on together.

The lack of clean water in the Nebaj region, where Antiguo Xoca is located, has always been quite obvious. The rural part is far from any city, and public water isn’t potable, much less drinkable. Seeing this as the greatest need for both parts of the community, the FH community facilitator suggested leaders set their major goal on accessing clean drinking water and that they form a “water committee.”

Each side chose leaders to work toward the goal. As time passed, agreements were made, and people began seeing eye to eye.

FH’s Rachel Stephens recently went on a trip to visit the community. She reported that Felix, one of the leaders, shared how their two disagreeing communities unified and had accomplished impressive goals over the years.

“Now I want to tell you the good news of what has happened in our community.”

  • Every household now has access to clean water. Health increased significantly as a result.
  • Mothers and children no longer spend hours each day hiking to get water. With the extra time, children are able to focus more time on schoolwork, which has helped learning improve. On top of that, children now have time to play and be kids. Mothers have time to better care for children and some have even started up small businesses such as household gardens.
  • Most of all, relationships have been restored. People from either side of the divide are now working alongside one another, reuniting the community and building up a brighter future.

After hearing the words of Felix, Stephens reflected on what the term “good news” meant.

In that hot, crowded, dusty community room, Felix’s words gave me a deep realization. THIS is the good news that Jesus preached and called us to! Individuals and communities restored from division, fighting,and brokenness; poor and oppressed communities thriving, restored to health, experiencing transformation and full of hope. This is the good news for you and me, the good news we experience and are called to facilitate in our daily lives and work.

Pray that these once-divided communities will continue growing together and reaping what they’ve sewn. Also pray for countries that are divided to come together and settle on ways to work together.

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