Guatemala (MNN) — 2012 is a pivotal year for Buckner International as it celebrates 10 years of ministry to orphans and families in Guatemala.
Buckner started working in Guatemala in 2002 after identifying the huge need there.
Phil Brinkmeyer with Buckner says, “Guatemala has historically been one of the more difficult countries in the western hemisphere. They have social development indicators that are among the worst….infant mortality, chronic malnutrition, and illiteracy rates.”
More than half of Guatemala’s population is living below the poverty line, and only 40% of children make it past elementary school.
On top of all that, UNICEF averages that there are 370,000 orphans in Guatemala.
“There has been a long-term issue [in Guatemala] with children that have been abandoned, neglected, even abused,” says Brinkmeyer.
When Buckner first began in Guatemala, they worked with residencies for foster care and child transitional programs. They also brought in short-term mission teams to minister in orphanages.
Brinkmeyer says that more recently, however, Buckner expanded their focus. “Over the last few years, as our emphasis has really been pushed out into the community where we can do preventative services, it’s really stopped the cycle of abuse and poverty which has actually placed these children in institutions.”
Brinkmeyer goes on to say, “Our latest goal is to provide Community Transformation Centers which will actually interact and assess the needs of specific families from impoverished areas, provide them with social service networking that can support them, and help them gain their own self-sustainability.”
These Community Transformation Centers also provide vocational training, medical care, and short-term humanitarian aid. And above all, the Gospel message is integrated into their work.
“Because it’s a Christ-centered focus and there is spiritual emphasis that’s involved, we try to have a pastor or one of our staff who’s doing devotions. Then questions like, ‘Why are these people here? Why are they giving to us? Why are they caring for us?’ are answered,” says Brinkmeyer. “It’s by meeting the physical needs of the individual, they can actually be drawn closer to the Lord and through that the spiritual needs are met.”
Please pray for Buckner’s ongoing ministry in Guatemala and for their staff in the field. Pray that the light of Christ may shine through their work.